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Howard Zaharoff Highlights 2016 Copyright Legislative and Regulatory Developments 02/16/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Intellectual Property.
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HGZ Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846618xB1386)While many are reflecting on the key copyright cases of 2016, Howard Zaharoff states the necessity of noting the important copyright legislative and regulatory developments that also took place. In his most recent article, Howard discusses developments by the House Judiciary Committee, the Small Copyright Claims Tribunal, and the new procedure for registering designated agents under the DMCA, among others.

For an overview on these and other copyright legislative and regulatory developments, read the full article.

MBBP’s 2016 M&A Year in Review 02/14/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Deal News, Internet and E-Commerce, M&A, Manufacturing, Retail & Service, Public Companies.
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The MBBP M&A team has extensive experience guiding clients through the complexities of M&A transactions in diverse markets. Over the last decade, we have represented hundreds of publicly-traded and privately-held companies in transactions, both buyers and sellers, valued from several million dollars up to hundreds of millions of dollars. For a sampling of our 2016 transactions, visit our M&A blog.

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MBBP’s Shannon Zollo and Josh French Discuss Quickly Enacting Trump Administration Policies in BBJ Article 02/10/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate.
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M0846567   Josh French

In an article in the Boston Business Journal, Corporate partner Shannon Zollo and corporate senior attorney Josh French discuss the importance for the Trump administration to act quickly in enacting new policies that were promised during Trump’s campaign. The potential legislation, including protectionist trade policies, corporate tax reform, increased infrastructure spending, and immigration reform, has left businesses feeling uncertain about how to move forward with their business strategies. Zollo and French argue that the Trump administration must act quickly to enact legislation in order to foster a more certain business environment.

For further detail, read the full article.

Mary Beth Kerrigan Was Encore Panelist at CLE Webinar on Venture Backed M&A 02/10/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, M&A, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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M0846587Back by popular demand, corporate partner Mary Beth Kerrigan spoke on an encore panel of this year’s ABA Business Law Annual Meeting, titled “Venture Backed M&A: Special Considerations”.  Mary Beth and her fellow panelists discussed complex issues that commonly arise in acquisitions of venture-backed companies, including complicated waterfalls, the blurring of management incentives with purchase price, and much more.

Congratulations to Mary Beth on another job well done!

To learn more about the conference, visit the ABA’s event page.

MBBP Held Series A Venture Capital Financing Event at Cambridge Innovation Center on 2/2/2017 02/06/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Events, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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MBBP’s corporate partner Scott Bleier moderated our VC group’s event, “Series A Venture Capital Financing: A Review of 2016 and a Look Forward to M08465002017″ at the Cambridge Innovation Center on Thursday, February 2nd. Scott led our panel of VC and angel investors through a series of critical questions regarding raising capital. Additionally, the presentation included a review of 2016 Series A financing activity and preferred stock terms, and a forecast of financing activity for 2017.

Make sure you’re on the invite for the next Venture Capital event! Read more on our VCs and Startups blog or sign up for VC Alerts.

 

MBBP Trademark Client FusionStorm Earns Ultra-Exclusive Dell EMC Titanium Black Honor 02/01/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Computer Software & Hardware.
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MBBP’s trademark client FusionStorm has truly earned its stripes over the past six years fusionstorm-logoafter receiving more than a dozen Partner of the Year vendor awards, and recently having been handpicked as one of the partners to join the extremely exclusive Dell EMC Titanium Black program. This program gives FusionStorm access to a broad range of exclusive benefits aimed at driving sales growth, and also provides the company with the ability to meet, confer, and brief with Dell’s top technologists and Dell EMC CEO Michael Dell. FusionStorm’s CEO of five years, Dan Serpico, has attributed the company’s success to its ability to adapt to how the environment and market each shift, to maintain the company’s strong relationships with vendors and customers, and to lead the company through shifts in the industry.

The company’s entrepreneurial sales approach and technical expertise have served to build the company’s culture, and in turn, its ability to deliver its service product. Serpico attributes the company’s great success to FusionStorm’s employees and their innovative ideas, as listening and paying attention to the workers is another segment of FusionStorm’s culture. The company works incredibly hard to remain ahead of competitors in order to predict shifts and remain relevant within the industry. With the company’s recent and incredible success, Serpico emphasizes the importance of continuous innovation, and the company pays very close attention to the future of the industry, and how FusionStorm will remain a part of it. Congratulations to FusionStorm!

For more information, read the full article.

Dr. Kaushik Chowdhury Named as a Recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers 01/31/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Life Sciences.
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Michael J Cavaretta (MJC)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton, PC congratulates Dr. Kaushik Chowdhury, Director of Northeastern University’s Next Generation Networks and Systems (GENESYS) Lab, on recently being named as a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers (PECASE) – the highest honor given by the US government to science and engineering professionals.

This summer, MBBP Partner Mike Cavaretta served as Business Mentor to Dr. Chowdhury’s team as part of the National Science Foundation’s I-Corps™ program, which offers select participants from US academic laboratories the opportunity to participate in a special, accelerated version of Stanford University’s Lean LaunchPad course. As part of this intensive program, Mike worked closely with Dr. Chowdhury and his I-Corps™ team to help move ground-breaking Radio Frequency (RF) Energy Harvesting technology developed at Dr. Chowdhury’s GENESYS Lab out of the lab and into the market.

Congratulations to Dr. Chowdhury!

MBBP’s Joshua Watson quoted in Bloomberg article discussing private equity tax and financial reform in the Trump era 01/30/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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Corporate partner Joshua H. Watson was quoted in a Bloomberg article discussing possible changes to the private equity industry during Donald Trump’s presidency. The article details the top three priorities for the private equity industry as Trump takes office: carried interest, interest deductibility, and changing Dodd-Frank registration requirements. jhw-headshot-photo-2016-m0966396xb1386

Regarding Dodd-Frank requirements, Josh notes that if the reform act passed by Obama’s administration is rolled-back, particularly in regards to registration requirements for private equity firms, there could be bipartisan political support for exempting more small firms from registering. Specifically, Josh states that “if small to mid-sized managers are able to spend less of their resources on compliance, they will have more resources available for making and managing investments.”

For further detail, read the full article or contact Josh directly.

Revised HSR Thresholds 2017 01/27/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Corporate, M&A.
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On January 19, 2017, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued its annual press release announcing revised jurisdictional thresholds for 2017 in connection with reportable jmc-headshot-photo-2015-m0846508xb1386transactions under the Hart-Scott-Rodino Antitrust Improvements Act of 1976 (HSR Act). These new HSR thresholds will go into effect 30 days after they are published in the Federal Register, which is expected to happen in late February.

For more information about the revised thresholds, read the full post written by corporate attorney Jonathan M. Calla on our M&A Today blog.

MBBP Trademark Client Visible Measures On How to Launch a Super Bowl Campaign 01/27/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News.
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With Super Bowl LI only a week and change away, it is important for brands and new-logo-as-of-2015-01-08-vmclogo_260x80-2advertisers to know how to connect with their audiences by creating a powerful and impressionable advertising campaign. MBBP’s trademark client Visible Measures, the leader in social video attention measurement and activation, has this down to a science with their Super Bowl Attention Playbook. The Super Bowl grosses one of the highest viewer ratings in the country all year, with more than 110 million viewers in the United States alone; therefore, it is of the utmost importance that brands and advertisers are aware of the best ways to create a hit campaign, and Visible Measures provides the Golden Ticket.

Visible Measures examined previous advertising trends surrounding past Super Bowls, and has created an advertising “playbook” on the key techniques to create a successful campaign. This includes: going beyond Facebook to Youtube, where 3x as much viewing occurs; knowing the prime times during the game to execute a campaign for maximum views; and more. Visible Measures is a company fueled by data that has successfully assisted many advertisers and brands in their endeavor to spread their message, and we can’t wait to see what they have in store for us on February 5th. Go Visible Measures and go Patriots!

For more information, check out the full article.

MBBP Client MindChild Medical, Inc. Receives FDA Clearance of Fetal Heart Monitor 01/26/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Medical Devices.
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MindChild Medical, Inc., a client of MBBP, has received FDA clearance for its Pre-Marketing Notification (510(k)) for its MERIDIAN™ M110 non-invasive fetal heart monitor. The FDA clearance will enable MindChild to enter the U.S. market with MERIDIAN™.

MindChild’s MERIDIAN™ M110 Fetal Monitoring System is an intrapartum fetal monitor that externally measures and displays fetal heart rate, maternal heart rate, and uterine contractions.

MindChild was founded in 2008 and is a privately funded medical device company. To learn more about the MERIDIAN™ device and MindChild, read the full press release.

Congratulations to MindChild on this achievement!

MBBP’s Client Officeworks, and CEO Mark Loughlin, Expanding Into New York City 01/24/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Manufacturing, Retail & Service.
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MBBP’s client Officeworks, an office furniture dealership and consulting firm based in Boston, is expanding into the New York City office furniture market with current CEO Mark Loughlin and newly hired Principal David Quinn at the helm. Loughlin purchased the company in 2010, and sales began to skyrocket with growth being 10x what it had previously been within five years. Loughlin attributes the company’s success to exceptional customer service and a dynamic working environment that is conducive to new ideas and innovation.

By placing the utmost importance on the employees, Loughlin believes that the company is laying a strong foundation upon which to continue to grow. With Officeworks being one of two authorized dealers of Teknion furniture within the New York City market, this will give the company an edge as they settle into their new environment. However, being that Officeworks was named Teknion Dealer of the Year due to its dominating success and astounding sales growth, it would seem they have had their edge for quite some time, and will continue to prove it in the Big Apple. Congratulations to Officeworks!

For more information, read the full article.

Czarnecki and Chalvire Elevated Within the Firm 01/18/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate.
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We are pleased to announce that Dave Czarnecki and Stan Chalvire have been elevated to Member.

Dave joined the Firm in 2006 and was promoted to Senior Attorney in 2011. Dave is exceptionally proficient in guiding both buyers and sellers through a wide range of corporate transactions, including mergers and acquisitions, private equity transactions, venture capital financings, and joint ventures. Primarily a member of the firm’s corporate group, Dave also has a background in taxation and finance, and consequently brings an uncommon perspective to transactional matters.

Stan joined the Firm in 2009 as an Associate and was promoted to Senior Attorney in 2013. Stan is a Registered Patent Attorney, specializing in the licensing of intellectual property and related counseling.  Stan advises clients in developing and implementing strategies to protect their intellectual property and advises clients with respect to a variety of related strategic collaborations, with a particular focus on clients in the life sciences industry. Prior to beginning his legal career Stan practiced as a Registered Pharmacist in both clinical and retail settings.

Congratulations to both!

Please feel free to contact Dave or Stan directly.

MBBP’s Tim Manning Published in Article Discussing the Perspective of Unsecured Creditors of a Borrower 01/17/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Corporate.
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Tim Manning of our Corporate Practice group recently published an article in TSL (The Secured Lender) Express, which is published by the Commercial Finance Association.tpm-headshot-photo-2016-m0944287xb1386 The article examines the risks to a senior secured lender that fails to take into account how its actions towards a distressed borrower are viewed by the unsecured creditors of such borrower.

For more information, read the full article or contact Tim.

MBBP client, Whitehead Institute, featured in New York Times article discussing Genomic research 01/12/2017

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Life Sciences.
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whitehead-institute-client-logo-sm-m0055040xb1386The Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research, a client of MBBP, is featured in a New York Times article about progressive research on topologically associating domains (TADs) in DNA.

As the article explains, TADs are a newly discovered design feature of the genome that partition different groups of genes into neighborhoods. If these partitions are broken, various diseases may occur.

By conducting research on TADs, scientists hope to gain a more in depth understanding of how gene expression is controlled. Dr. Richard Young of the Whitehead Institute and his team are involved in TADs research and are continuing to push the boundaries of knowledge about genetic neighborhoods.

For more information, read the full article.

Contours of Copyright #4: No Protection for Game Play 12/21/2016

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Games & Interactive Entertainment, Intellectual Property.
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The battle between an Ancient Chinese themed game, and a Wild-West game, reminds us that rules of game play are generally not protectable by copyright, but certain expressive game aspects may be.HGZ Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846618xB1386)

Discussion: The plaintiff in DaVinci Editrice v. ZiKo Games (S.D. Tex. 2016) published Bang!, a role-playing card game with Wild-West themes that became a world-wide success. Bang! players are assigned one of four roles – Sheriff, Deputy, Outlaw or Renegade – each with its own “winning condition” (e.g., the Sheriff wins by outliving the Outlaws and Renegades).  Each player also gets assigned a card evoking a familiar Wild-West character (e.g., Calamity Janet) with its own unique ability and 1-to-5 “life points.” Players also draw “weapon cards” (enabling them to reduce competitors’ life points) and “mount cards” (enabling them to gain distance from competitors, making them harder to attack).

One defendant, Yoka Games, based in China, produced the card game Legends of the Three Kingdoms, distributed in the U.S. by the other defendant, ZiKo Games, LLC. Despite the different setting (Ancient China) and accompanying different artwork, the four roles in LOTK – Monarch, Minister, Rebel and Turncoat – had the same abilities, functions, goals and winning conditions as the comparable roles in Bang!; players were subject to nearly identical rules of play; players drew Chinese hero cards with similar abilities and life points as the Bang! character cards; and similar action cards were used.

Notwithstanding procedural wrangling over the lay vs. expert status of a witness and arguments about the significance of various similarities, this was an easy summary judgment for the Court:  “Bang!’s characters, roles, and interactions are not substantially similar to those in LOTK. The aspects of the roles, characters, and interactions that are similar are not expressive, and aspects that are expressive are not substantially similar. ZiKo and Yoka are entitled to summary judgment of noninfringement.”

An Interlude for Copyright Aficionados:  The Court’s reasoning begins with the black letter principle that copyright protects expression, not ideas. Therefore, “Copyright does not protect game rules because they fall within the section 102(b) exceptions for an ‘idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation’.”

On the other hand, the Court acknowledges that “courts have found expressive elements copyrightable, including game labels, design of game boards, playing cards and graphical works.” The present dispute focuses on the roles and characters and their interactions, which are very similar in both games. Thus, the key issue is: Are the characters’ similar interactions “unprotectable game play,” as the defendants argue, or “protectable expressive content,” as the plaintiffs argue?

The Court begins by distinguishing two types of games: (1) those like books and movies, which have a progression of events (plot) and developed characters (who interact following a script) “that make the game expressive” (e.g., The Legend of Zelda), and (2) those like NBA games, which consist of “loosely prescribed progression” (“teams trade offensive possessions over four quarters”) between players with assigned roles (guard, forward, center) but without predetermined interactions, which are therefore neither expressive nor copyrightable.

Bang!, says the Court, “has no specific plot or detailed information about the characters that tells us what these characters will do or how they will interact with other characters.” Rather, like basketball, Bang! has created a number of roles, defined their alignment with and opposition to other roles, and created rules for their interaction, but has not created a scripted or detailed performance for each game.  Thus, Bang! is more basketball than novel, and its character interactions are not protected by copyright.

The Court also addresses character copyright and explains why LOTK wasn’t infringing, despite the near-identity of the 4 main roles (excluding their look and labels). The answer lies in the “distinctiveness” requirement: To earn copyright protection, characters cannot be stock, generic or indistinct, but must embody enough original expression to attain copyrightability. However, “Bang! has no specific plot or detailed information about the characters… LOTK’s alignment of roles tracks Bang!’s, which in turn was drawn from the general alignment of stock characters in ‘spaghetti Westerns.’”

The Court also considers and rejects the plaintiff’s argument that, even if the characters themselves are not copyrighted, their special abilities may be: “The Bang! characters’ abilities are largely drawn from stock-character abilities. Like a punch or kick in a karate game, Bang! characters’ abilities are common in games in which the object is to kill the other players.” Moreover: “Even if the Bang! characters’ abilities were not stock, they are still not expressive because they are essentially rules of game play.”

A similar conclusion applies to the plaintiff’s key claim, namely, that the Bang! characters’ interactions via the game rules are themselves subject to copyright. But that argument fails here for the same reason it failed at the higher level of character copyright: “Bang! characters do not have delineated personalities, temperaments, back stories, or other features typical of characters in movies and books that contribute to making those characters’ interactions protected.”

Conclusion: The Court was mindful that game rules are generally not copyrightable, a principle that anchored its holding in favor of the defendants. However, the Court did recognize at least three game elements that could potentially give rise to copyrights:

  1. expressive graphics or other original visual elements;
  2. a relatively fixed progression of themes, dialog, mood, setting and character; or
  3. well-delineated characters themselves.

Still, if a character (whether in a novel, film or videogame) is not sufficiently distinct to be copyrightable – which may be because it is a “stock” character defined only by generic traits, or because it is a positional player guided only by rules of play – then its interactions with other characters will not be copyrightable, unless these interactions are at least partly fixed or scripted.

In short, despite displaying some of the artistry of its namesake, DaVinci’s characters (and their traits and interactions) were too stock and generic to be copyrightable … and thus its suit failed to produce more bucks for its Bang!.

For more information on this topic, please contact Howard Zaharoff.

MBBP’s Howard Zaharoff Will Be a Panelist in Boston Bar’s 17th Annual Intellectual Property Year in Review 12/19/2016

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Events, Intellectual Property, MBBP news.
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MBBP’s Howard Zaharoff will be a panelist at this year’s Boston Bar Association Intellectual Property Year in Review, one of Boston’s premier annual IP events. Howard will be discussing some of the most important copyright developments of the HGZ Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846618xB1386)past year, with his co-presenter, Attorney Lucy Lovrien.

This annual panel has been organized for intellectual property specialists to discuss the latest developments with practitioners in the field. Howard and his fellow panelists will discuss patents, copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets, and the event will close with a networking opportunity for all attendees.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, January 26th, 2017 from 3:00 PM to 6:00 PM at the Boston Marriott Long Wharf. See the event details for more information.

MBBP Welcomes New Attorneys to the Team 12/08/2016

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, MBBP news.
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Morse, Barnes-Brown, and Pendleton has welcomed three new attorneys: Joshua H. Watson, William R. Schmidt II, and Kelly L. Hinkel.

Josh and Kelly have become members of the Corporate Practice group, while Bill has joined the Patent Practice group. Josh is an experienced private funds attorney and has joined the Corporate Practice group’s Private Investment Funds & Advisers (PIFA) team. Bill is a registered patent attorney whose practice focuses on patent prosecution, opinions, and related counseling. Kelly’s practice includes advising companies on financings, corporate governance, and entity formation.

Details can be found in the formal announcement.

Copyright Alert: New Copyright Office Electronic System to Register Designated Agents Under the DMCA 12/02/2016

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Intellectual Property.
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ip-news-jpeg-m0118331xb1386Effective December 1, 2016, the US Copyright Office rolled out a new electronic system for the online registration of designated agents under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (“DMCA”). Consequently, all online service providers who want the benefit of the safe harbor against copyright infringement claims are required to register under the new electronic system or, if they’re already registered under the old paper system, to submit fresh designations under the electronic system by December 31, 2017. Thus, agents who previously filed hardcopies of their DMCA agent designations must now do so again online, within the next 13 months, in order to keep the benefits of the safe harbor.

To learn more about the DMCA and necessary compliance, read the full alert.

MBBP’s Client Abpro Collaborating with MedImmune on Medical Advancement 12/01/2016

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Corporate, Life Sciences, Medical Devices.
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MBBP’s client Abpro, a pioneer in the field of industrial biochemistry, has recently entered into a Collaboration Agreement with MedImmune, the global biologics research and development arm of AstraZeneca. The collaboration will advance the development of a preclinical, novel bispecific antibody targeting angiopoietin-2 and vascular endothelial growth factor (Ang2-VEGF). Abpro will contribute its strong scientific, technical and clinical expertise to this partnership, along with its core technology platform, DiversImmuneTM, which will be utilized to further develop the bispecific antibody. Ian Chan, CEO and co-founder of Abpro, has expressed the Company’s enthusiasm towards collaborating with MedImmune, as the two businesses work together to advance these innovative therapeutics into the clinic.

For more information, read the full article.

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