Software License Agreements I – Scope of the License

We’ll be looking at the typical items addressed in a business to business software license agreement (as compared to an end user license agreement).  The purpose of a software license between two companies are generally for the licensor, who has valuable software, to set forth how that software may be used by a licensee and the compensation and other items applicable to the licensee’s use.  Read more

Is your Trademark License Agreement really a Franchise Agreement? In New York the answer is “Yes”

Most companies licensing the use of their trademarks would not think that a simple license agreement, which provides nothing more than use of the trademark in exchange for a fee, would for legal purposes be treated as a franchise agreement.  But if the trademark licensor is in New York then what it thought was a simple trademark license agreement relationship is likely really a franchise arrangement. Read more

Trademark Consent Agreements

When filing a trademark application, if the USPTO Examining Attorney issues an initial refusal because he or she finds that there is a substantial likelihood of confusion with a pre-existing mark, this can be an issue with respect to getting the application registered.  One way around this is to enter into a Consent Agreement with the holder of the pre-existing filed trademark. Read more

Clickwrap License Cases: Patterson v. Compuserve

Compuserve v. Patterson, 89 F.3d 1257 (6th Cir. 1996).

Patterson, a resident of Texas (a lawyer and software programmer), sold his own software to third parties over Compuserve’s system, pursuant to the terms of a clickwrap agreement (where he had to type “I Agree” into various sections of the agreement).

Compuserve began to sell its own software that was similar to Patterson’s and Patterson demanded Compuserve pay him $100,000 as a settlement.  Compuserve then filed a declaratory judgment action in Federal court in Ohio.

Patterson moved to dismiss the action due to alleged lack of personal jurisdiction, claiming he never visited, did business in, or consented to suit in Ohio.

The Sixth Circuit found that making Patterson subject to suit in Ohio due to his acceptance of the clickwrap agreement, a Shareware Registration Agreement, did not violate the due process clause of the United States Constitution.

The Court reasoned that Patterson personally availed himself to do business with Compuserve, and made money doing so, and could therefore have reasonably expected he’d have to defend himself in Ohio due to the terms of the agreement.

Clickwrap and Browsewrap Agreements Kickoff

I’ve been involved in drafting numerous versions of online agreements, including privacy policies, service agreements, pricing policies, various other policies and last but not least both browsewrap and clickwrap agreements.  I’ve done a quick post on case law with respect to browsewrap and clickwrap agreements in the past, and was recently asked to speak for a webinar entitled Drafting Clickwrap and Browsewrap Agreements: Advanced Strategies for Enforceable Online Contracts held by Strafford.  If you’d like to listen to the webinar email me or contact them.

I feel that more and more contracting is going to be done over the Internet in the future and I am going to start a series of blog posts on drafting these types of browsewrap and clickwrap agreements as well as case law in the area, which serves to let corporate lawyers know how they have to draft the agreement, and have the users accept it. Read more

The Basics of Copyright Protection

Copyright protection was first introduced in way back in 1790, and it has changed a lot over the years.  Despite substantial revisions today’s copyright laws still protect owners of original works, however, it is now applied to many different types of works  (i.e. websites, source code, etc) than existed hundreds of years ago.  Luckily the creators of the copyright protection drafted it so that an original espression in any “fixed medium” is protected.  This allows the law to evolve as does technology. Read more

Hack-a-thon Agreements

I hit on the Hack-a-thon craze in an earlier post. The IP that is created by the hackers in these programs has to be owned by someone, although there are still times where everyone walks away not knowing what everyone’s rights are.  If nothing is ever signed by all participants and the hackathon sponsor, its unclear who owns what.

There are a couple different options.  The sponsor may want to own everything, or may want to at least have a perpetual paid up license to use the IP created.  The hackers should get some rights as well, but its been hard to delineate what and how it should be handled.

A friend of mine and a fellow startup lawyer, Dave Capuccilli of The Capucilli Firm has been working on a solution to this dilemma. Check out his latest iteration to a Hack-a-thon Collaboration Agreement, courtesy of Docracy.  Its a great way to ensure all hackers and the sponsor get a fair shot at using the IP created.

I currently represent a few companies that were born at Hack-a-thons and Startup Labs (a similar idea but slightly different format/program), and if they had an agreement like this signed before they came to me it would have made things much smoother.