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Matal v. Tam: The Supreme Court Rejects the Prohibition on Disparaging Trademarks 06/22/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Intellectual Property.
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Sean D. Detweiler (SDD)By: Sean Detweiler and Bianca Sena

On Monday June 19, 2017, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Trademark Office’s denial of registration for “disparaging” trademarks under Section 2(a) of the Lanham Act violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and is therefore unconstitutional. The case, Matal v. Tam (previously known as Lee v. Tam) concerned the federal trademark registration of “The Slants,” an all Asian-American rock band. The Court affirmed the Federal Circuit’s decision that Section 2(a) constituted viewpoint-based discrimination because it necessarily required a subjective value judgment on whether something is “disparaging.” The decision upended a portion of statute that has been in place since 1946. The decision will likely impact a parallel trademark case, Pro Football Inc. (a.k.a., the Redskins case), which involves the same disparagement clause section of the Lanham Act and cancellation of the Redskins trademark registrations.

For further detail, read “Matal v. Tam: The Supreme Court Rejects the Prohibition on Disparaging Trademarks”. For more information on trademarks, please contact Sean Detweiler.

The Risks of Using Finders and Unregistered Brokers 06/21/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Financial Services.
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JHW Headshot Photo 2016 (M0990045xB1386)Private fund managers often use placement agents, finders, and other intermediaries to help raise capital for their investment funds. Using an intermediary that has failed to register as a broker-dealer, however, is fraught with risk. In his article “The Risks of Using Finders and Unregistered Brokers“, private funds attorney Josh Watson cautions against using unregistered brokers and describes how to determine when an intermediary should be registered.

Read the full article on our website. For more information, please contact Josh Watson or a member of our PIFA practice.

Registration Exemptions for Investment Advisers 06/08/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Financial Services, MBBP news, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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JHW Headshot Photo 2016 (M0990045xB1386)When may an investment adviser avoid registering with the Securities and Exchange Commission? Private funds attorney Josh Watson answers this question in his article “Registration Exemptions for Investment Advisers” that summarizes the requirements of two registration exemptions that are available to managers of private investment funds.

To learn about the two registration exemptions read the full article on our website. For more information, please contact Josh Watson or a member of our PIFA practice.

Chip Wry Discusses Choosing a Business Structure in Inc. Magazine Article 06/07/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Taxation.
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M0846619Inc. Magazine’s article “10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Business Structure” offers a primer on choosing a company’s business form. Tax attorney Chip Wry notes that “choosing a business entity is like looking into the crystal ball of your company’s future”. The article covers some of the differences between S corp, C corp, B corp and LLC and what those differences can mean for the future of a company.

For more information, please read the full article or contact Chip Wry.

Encore Event! Strategic Alliances: Pot of Gold or Pretty Poison? – Life Sciences Series, June 28 06/05/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Events, Life Sciences, MBBP news.
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JMH Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846571xB1386)Due to overwhelming demand for our April 28 “Strategic Alliances: Pot of Gold or Pretty Poison?” event, we will be holding another round on Wednesday, June 28 at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC). Moderated by corporate attorney John Hession, a panel of business development experts will explore various research and collaboration structures, from options to license to comprehensive collaboration partnerships. The panel will discuss various licensing vehicles, the importance of concise fields of use descriptions, sample economics, and conventional transaction structures.

Space is limited! View our event page for more information and to register for the event.

Howard Zaharoff Co-Chairing 2017 MCLE Annual IP Law Conference 05/11/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Events, Intellectual Property.
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HGZ Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846618xB1386)As in previous years, intellectual property attorney Howard Zaharoff will co-chair MCLE’s 20th Annual Intellectual Property Law Conference 2017. The conference will cover various intellectual property topics, including IP litigation, protecting designs, IP issues in software, and the Defense of Trade Secrets Act.

The conference will be held on June 20th, both in-person and available via live webcast.

Lisa Warren Moderating Panel at Northeastern University School of Law 2017 Women in the Law Conference 05/08/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Events, Intellectual Property.
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LMW Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846622xB1386)Don’t miss Lisa Warren next Friday, May 19 at the Northeastern University School of Law (NUSL) 2017 Women in the Law Conference. Lisa will moderate the panel “Unlocking the Mysteries of the ‘New Girl’ Network“, where panelists will discuss how women’s networks can spark ideas, recharge your career, build client relationships, and lead to meaningful connections with others in the public and private sectors. Attorney General Maura Healey will be the keynote speaker at the conference.

View the event page for registration information and the full conference agenda.

Shann Kerner Joins MBBP as Intellectual Property Partner 05/03/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Intellectual Property, Life Sciences, MBBP news.
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SLK Headshot Photo 2017 (M1062434xB1386)We are pleased to announce the addition of Intellectual Property Member Shann Kerner.

Shann has substantial experience advising emerging, mid-sized and public companies in the biotechnology, pharmaceutical and medical device fields, counseling them on the creation, leveraging and protection of IP, with a view towards strengthening the business strategy of her clients.

A versatile and seasoned member of the Intellectual Property department, Shann concentrates her practice on IP counseling, particularly on patent portfolio procurement and management and IP due diligence in connection with venture capital, mergers and acquisitions, IPOs, and internal audits. Shann also focuses on analyses regarding patentability, freedom-to-operate, inventorship, derivation, validity and competitive subject matter landscape.

We invite you to contact Shann directly.

Tales from the Trenches: Reflections on Successful Exits – Venture Capital Event, May 18 04/28/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Events, MBBP news, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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M0846500Our Venture Capital team will be hosting a panel event, Tales from the Trenches: Reflections on Successful Exits, on Thursday May 18 at the Cambridge Innovation Center (CIC). Moderated by corporate partner Scott Bleier, a panel of entrepreneurs will share stories about how they built and eventually sold their companies to large strategic acquirers.

Space is limited! View our VCs and Startups blog for more information, including how to register.

MBBP’s Life Sciences Vector Newsletter, Spring 2017 04/20/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Intellectual Property, Life Sciences, MBBP news, New Resources.
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Our Life Sciences team has published the Spring 2017 edition of its newsletter, Vector. Below you will find brief descriptions of the news and articles included in the publication. Read the full newsletter for more information.

DAVID CZARNECKI AND STANLEY CHALVIRE ELEVATED WITHIN THE FIRM

We are pleased to announce that David Czarnecki and Stanley Chalvire have been elevated to Member. Dave is exceptionally proficient in guiding both buyers and sellers through a wide range of corporate transactions. Stan is a Registered Patent Attorney, specializing in the licensing of intellectual property and related counseling.

AMANDA PHILLIPS NAMED 2017 UP & COMING LAWYER

Litigation associate Amanda Phillips has been named a 2017 Up & Coming Lawyer by Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly. The recognition is awarded to a select number of attorneys who have been practicing for fewer than 10 years but whose professional achievements are noteworthy and whose service to the community is also significant.

CORPORATE ATTORNEY MICHAEL JABBAWY JOINS FIRM AS PARTNER

Michael’s practice is focused primarily in the areas of emerging and growth technology companies, venture capital, M&A transactions, and corporate governance. As a member of the Corporate Department, Michael advises technology and other emerging companies through each stage of growth. Prior to joining MBBP, Michael was a member of the Technology Companies group at Goodwin Procter LLP.

RECENT LIFE SCIENCES TRANSACTIONS

MBBP represented several clients in life sciences transactions, including iSpecimen, Orionis Biosciences, First Light Biosciences, and Manus Biosynthesis. The transactions ranged from convertible debt to equity investments. Learn more on page 2.

FREEDOM TO OPERATE: PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE

Launching a new product or service can be fraught with uncertainty and involve large expenditures of limited resources. An FTO opinion can reduce uncertainty and provide some insurance against loss from an unfavorable finding of infringement of another’s patent. An FTO opinion makes a determination whether a product or service infringes issued patents. In other words, the opinion indicates whether or not there is “freedom to operate” the product or service within the patent landscape. Often, FTO opinions also identify patent applications that, if later issued as patents, may be problematic. Read the full article on page 2.

THE PATENT PROCESS: GET ON THE FAST TRACK

One of the biggest frustrations for patent applicants is the incredibly slow pace at which an application proceeds from filing to receipt of a substantive examination report to allowance. On average it takes 15.7 months for a patent application to receive even a first substantive examination report, though there is significant variability across technology areas. The Patent Office has recognized this problem and implemented several initiatives which attempt to address the problem from different angles. Two programs in particular have gained traction: the Patent Prosecution Highway (PPH) and Track One Prioritized Examination. Continue reading for more information about these programs.

OWNERSHIP OF ARISING INVENTIONS IN JOINT DEVELOPMENT AGREEMENTS

Collaboration remains a valuable means of fostering innovation and advancing scientific, clinical and commercial objectives. Towards that end, two or more parties contemplating a collaboration often consider entering into a Joint Development Agreement, where they define, among other things, their respective contributions and responsibilities towards their common objectives. These types of collaborations require a careful and thorough consideration of the disposition of intellectual property rights that may arise as a result of each party’s performance of its responsibilities under such collaborations. Read more starting on page 3.

GUEST COLUMN:
FOR SKILLED IMMIGRATION TO THE U.S., THE TIMES, THEY MAY BE CHANGING

The last year of the Obama Administration saw an increased activism by President Obama in the area of skilled immigration. Through Executive Orders and regulations, the President made a number of important changes including providing Employment Authorization for spouses on H-4 visas, increasing the period of post-graduate employment authorization for foreign students in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), increasing the number of academic fields included in STEM and formalizing a grace period for foreign nationals on H-1B visas that find themselves between jobs. Read the full article beginning on page 5.

Faith Kasparian Comments on Privacy & Data Security Implications of Burger King’s New Google-Triggering Ad 04/14/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Intellectual Property, Privacy and Data Security.
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FDK Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846572xB1386)Intellectual property attorney Faith Kasparian comments on the potential privacy and data security repercussions of Burger King’s new ad in Bloomberg’s article, “Burger King’s Google-Triggering Ad Invites Complaints, Scrutiny“. The article discusses Burger King’s recent ad controversy, after it prompted consumers’ Google Home devices to respond to the prompt “OK, Google. What is the Whopper burger?”.

Faith notes that:

It’s unreasonable for Google not to have appropriate mechanisms in place so that the device couldn’t be activated by a third party.

She also states that the FTC could have a claim against Google for the ad since consumers did not receive proper disclosures, and that Google could also take legal action against Burger King for “inappropriately leveraging that device”.

For more information on the legal implications of the ad, read Bloomberg’s article.

MBBP Corporate Attorneys Represent Mosse & Mosse Associates in Acquisition of Certain Assets by Risk Strategies Company 04/12/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Client News, Corporate, Deal News, MBBP news.
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A team of Morse Barnes Brown Pendleton attorneys, led by Joe Marrow, Dave Czarnecki, Kelly Hinkel and corporate paralegal Yongha Lee, recently represented our client Mosse & Mosse Associates, LLC in a sale of certain assets to Risk Strategies Company. Mosse & Mosse provides its client base with both employee benefits and retirement plan consulting services. Risk Strategies Company, a privately-held, rapidly-growing national insurance brokerage and risk management firm, has expanded its employee benefits practice and expertise through the Mosse & Mosse acquisition. The sale of assets did not include Mosse & Mosse’s benefits business related to municipalities and educational institutions, and MBBP will continue to represent Mosse & Mosse in that on-going enterprise.

Why You Should Spend Dollars on Patent, Trademark Protection 04/11/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Intellectual Property.
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Sean D. Detweiler (SDD)In the article, “Why You Should Spend Dollars on Patent, Trademark Protection“, published on CFO.com, patent and trademark attorney Sean Detweiler discusses why it is important for companies to protect the thoughts they pay for through patent and trademark protection. According to Sean, failure to protect this information could lead to loss of company value and a narrowing of opportunities.

Most often, patents are the best form of protection for innovations implemented in your products or services. But if you take your time in pursuing them they may no longer be available to you.

For more information, read the full article on cfo.com or feel free to contact Sean directly.

Strategic Alliances: Pot of Gold or Pretty Poison? – Life Sciences Series Panel 4 Event, April 28 04/11/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Events, Licensing & Strategic Alliances, Life Sciences, MBBP news.
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JMH Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846571xB1386)Our Life Sciences Series Panel 4 event, Strategic Alliances: Pot of Gold or Pretty Poison?, will be held on Friday, April 28 from 7:30-10am in our Waltham office. Moderated by corporate attorney John Hession, a panel of business development experts from Big Pharma and Small Biotech explore various research and collaboration structures, from options to license to comprehensive collaboration partnerships. We will discuss various licensing vehicles, the importance of concise fields of use descriptions, sample economics, and conventional transaction structures.

View our event page for more information and to register for the event.

Firing Executives for Cause: Recent Case Offers Lessons 04/06/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Employment.
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M0846523In employment and labor attorney Scott Connolly‘s new article “Firing Executives for Cause: Recent Case Offers Lessons“, Scott discusses how the outcome of Eric Balles v. Babcock Power, Inc. offers contract drafting lessons for corporate and employment attorneys who represent executives and companies. Much can turn on whether an executive is fired “for Cause”.  If Cause exists, an executive’s employment contract almost always provides that the executive shall receive no severance benefits – typically post-termination salary and health continuation and, less commonly, accelerated vesting of stock.  In addition, stock agreements may provide that, when Cause exists, an executive’s stock is subject to repurchase by the Company at a minimal price.

Because the stakes are so high, employment lawyers tend to fight the hardest during contract negotiations on termination and severance provisions and the definitions of Cause and “Good Reason” (the corollary that allows executives to leave, but still receive severance benefits).

To continue reading about firing executives for Cause, read the full article.

Early-Stage Life Science Financing: Event Recap 04/05/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Life Sciences, MBBP news.
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By: Erin Bryan

On Thursday, March 30th, MBBP kicked off an Innovations in Life Sciences event at the Cambridge Innovation Center by hosting a panel entitled “Money and Molecules: Early-Stage Life Science Financing“. The panel included Jeffrey Arnold, President & CEO of Arnold Strategies, LLC; Timothy Sullivan, Partner at Aju IB Investment; John Tagliamonte who serves on the Advisory Board of Cocoon Biotech; Caleb Winder, Managing Director of Excel Venture Management; and MBBP’s own John Hession as moderator.JMH Headshot Photo 2015 (M0846571xB1386)

The panel provided a discussion on financing strategies for young life science companies, ranging from how to get in the door with investors to what will make your company attractive for financing. It may be surprising to many, but the entire panel echoed the fact that the financing process will take longer than is generally expected. If available, it is recommended to seek grant and other non-dilutive funding in addition to any equity financing.

The panelists identified a number of factors that they consider when a company is seeking financing, including how well the company has examined the market, identified a regulatory and a reimbursement path, understood the economics of the customer, and filed for patent protection. Additional considerations include how well the company will fit with the portfolio strategy of the investor, and how complete the management team is. Many investors will also be looking to see where in the pipeline the company’s research currently is. In general, investors want to see that the company has at least reached the molecule stage and has some small animal data supporting its research, although exceptions may always be made depending on the strength of the management team, the marketing opportunity, and the science.

These were merely a few of the interesting points discussed by the panel. Save the date for our next life sciences panel “Strategic Alliances: Pot of Gold or Pretty Poison?” (the 4th in the Life Sciences Series), which will be hosted at MBBP’s Waltham office on Friday, April 28. The panel will discuss strategic alliances between big pharma and small biotech.

List Mania: Top IP Developments of 2016 04/04/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Computer Software & Hardware, Intellectual Property, Internet and E-Commerce, Privacy and Data Security, Telecommunications & Networking.
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wrs-headshot-photo-2016-m0980966xb1386While you may have been distracted by a tumultuous 2016, at MBBP we have been monitoring developments in intellectual property. We are happy to present, in no particular order, our list of the top IP developments of 2016, plus an Honorable Mention for 2017.

In the full article on our website, “List Mania: Top IP Developments of 2016“, Bill Schmidt covers the following developments:

  1. Patent Infringement Plaintiffs Get a “Halo”: Halo Electronics, Inc. v. Pulse Electronics, Inc. and Stryker Corp. v. Zimmer, Inc.
  2. A Light at the End of the Tunnel for Software Patents?: Enfish v. Microsoft Corp.
  3. High Octane Fee Shifting: Octane Fitness, LLC v. Icon health & Fitness, Inc.
  4. Limits on “Common Sense”: Arendi S.A.R.L. v. Apple
  5. Shhh… It’s a Secret: Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016
  6. Designs, Damages, and Dinner Plates: Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co.
  7. Personal Information Expressway: EU-US Privacy Shield Framework
  8. In Defense of Abbott and Costello: TCA Television Corp. v. McCollum
  9. Thanks, but No Thanks: UK votes to exit the European Union
  10. Honorable Mention for 2017: CRISPR/Cas9

Boston University Senior Business Lecturer Greg Stoller Shares Top Four Asian Business Trends 03/22/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Corporate.
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Greg Stoller, a friend of the firm and a senior lecturer at BU’s Questrom School of Business, recently returned from a visit to Asia, which included visits to 10 firms in Shanghai and Hong Kong. Among the insights he gained:

Many of the firms are ditching long-term strategic planning in favor of speed and agility, in order to obtain short-term profits and keep competitors at bay.”

In his article “Four Asian Business Trends Happening in Real Time” Greg shares the top 4 trends he experienced in the way business is conducted in China and its neighbors.

Patent and Trademark Attorney Sean Detweiler Discusses Possible Risks from Using Low-Cost Trademark Registration Services in New Article 03/21/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Intellectual Property.
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Sean D. Detweiler (SDD)In the past 5 or so years, there have been a number of online, low-cost, entrants into the trademark registration space. Companies like The Trademark Company, TTC Business Solutions, and others, promote low-cost trademark registration services. However, questions have surfaced as to whether such services are operating ethically.

Sean Detweiler discusses recent charges brought against low-cost trademark registration companies by the USPTO and the potential risks from using one of these services. He states that:

It is true that the counseling and advice will likely cost more than going it on your own, or using one of these low-cost services that claim an attorney is involved. However, there is clearly a substantial risk in skipping the advice and counseling that experienced trademark attorneys offer, and either filing trademark applications pro se (as an individual, on your own) or using some of the low-cost online trademark registration providers, such as The Trademark Company.

Read the full article, “Recent Developments Should Have Trademark Owners Thinking Twice About Using Low-Cost Registration Services” for more information.

Dave Czarnecki Xconomy article: “Tax Reform and Choice of Business Entity” 03/16/2017

Posted by Morse Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Taxation.
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M0846543In his new article for Xconomy, “Tax Reform and Choice of Business Entity“, corporate and tax partner Dave Czarnecki discusses how the decision of choice of entity for an entrepreneur’s business has both tax and non-tax implications. The decision is especially important given the impending White House tax reform plan, which could include a reduction in corporate tax rates.

Dave poses the question:

“If the anticipated changes are adopted, should entrepreneurs be more willing to organize their business as a C-Corporation, rather than an entity that is taxed on a pass-through basis?”

Dave discusses this question and potential tax reform and the implications for businesses in the Xconomy article.

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