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Last Update: Tuesday June 15, 2021

Key Idea: Value Your Intellectual property

Attorney Mark Litvack says you should not be cavalier about your intellectual assets.  More...

Key Question:


Most small business owners don't think about the value of their brand, their logo, their customer list or even their unique products and services. For example, Eric Rose builds homes, but not just any home. His homes are called smart houses because they are wired to "talk" to the owner. While there are plenty of builders around the country who build smart houses, Eric has a unique approach. We argue that his techniques, which are all stored on a server in his office, could easily be stolen by a disgruntled employee, a competitor or even a customer. The programming he developed to make his houses "smart" is intellectual property.

The people we interviewed for this episode all gave us their definition of intellectual property. George Borkowski said it is, "Intangible creativity. It's either ideas or it's manifestations of ideas, often concepts. It is not something you can see, feel or touch usually. You can see the expression of it often but the thing itself is often almost invisible and I think that's one of the problems sometimes people have understanding it." He went on to say, "Fundamentally it really is the creative impulse or creative idea that's manifested somehow and once it's manifested, the challenge to protecting it becomes important."

Mark Litvack said, "People often say intellectual property is the driving force of this country. Be it software, imovies, games, or music. It is really your creative thought process. Something that you own because you have taken ideas and either put them to words, music, art. It's not like real property or personal property. It's not a chair; it's not my house. I can share it with the world."

Steve Weinstein said, "Intellectual property is either copyrighted material or works of art that people determine that they own and they want to license it or permit people to use it under certain conditions."

Think about it

Can you define and articulate the intellectual property your company owns? If not, should you find a mentor or intellectual property attorney to help you define it?

Clip from: Protect Your Intellectual Property (IP)

Silicon Valley, Los Angeles and Seattle: Economies grow when money is transacted for something of value. Theft kills economies and IP theft is a real pandemic.

Lying, cheating and stealing has been going on forever. But now, the other IP (Internet Protocol) has made it so easy to steal, our children and all sorts of decent-loving-gentle people think nothing about "borrowing, using, enjoying" and otherwise ripping off somebody's creative work.

In this episode of the show we visit with the lawyers who argued down Grokster in the U.S. Supreme Court. We visit with a small business owner who is being ripped off, a composer who is figuring it out, and technologists who are waging the war to protect our intellectual assets.

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Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp

Mark D. Litvack, Parrtner

11355 W. Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90064

Office: 310.312.4000

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Value Your Intellectual property

HATTIE: (Voiceover while we see Daniel Walker playing the piano in his Santa Monica studio.) What you hear is thought translated. It is real. It has value. To learn how we small business owners can protect our intellectual property in this digital world, we talked with composer Daniel Walker and publisher Bob Tarcea. We went to MacroVision in Silicon Valley and to Microsoft in Redmond and to the law firm of Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp in Los Angeles.

GEORGE BORKOWSKI: Intellectual property is essentially intangible creativity.

MARK LITVACK: Be it software, be it movies, be it games, music, it drives this economy.

GEORGE: Fundamentally it really is a creative impulse or a creative idea that's manifested somehow and once it's manifested then as you identify, the challenge of protecting it is what becomes important.

MAGGIE SANCHEZ: It's huge. Software piracy in particular -- about 35% of software installed on PCs worldwide is pirated.

DANIEL WALKER: But the way that I protect myself is I don't put enough of it on there to be of use to anyone.

GEORGE: It's a real place with real problems. Similar problems to the ones you have in the physical world.

BOB TARCEA: And if you get into litigation the numbers are staggering.

STEVE WEINSTEIN: Everybody is facing large problems right now. All of the industries are under siege.

MARK: The copyright idea is in the constitution. We took the idea originally from England but the framers of the constitution early on recognized the importance of copyright. It's a right given to Congress. They understood to encourage people to create intellectual property you have to protect that property.

HATTIE: (Voiceover) And in the digital world, it is almost impossible. Millions of small business owners are delivering goods and services via DVD or the web which makes us vulnerable to thieves. Mark Litvack came to Mitchell, Silberberg and Knupp from the Motion Picture Association.

MARK: In the old days, talking about tapes, it took two hours to make a pirate copy of a tape because it was taped in. real time. So you would hook up a machine and you would go two hours. Today in the digital world I can stamp out thousands and thousands of identical originals to a movie, to software, to a game and flood a market, pirate wise, before a legitimate market can even develop.

In 1998 at the MPA we had a raid in Hong Kong of 24 million discs. The scope of that--in this country we'd pick up a couple of hundred thousand pirate tapes a year. 24 million disks in one raid was astronomical. It showed us how far ahead the pirates were getting in their ability to replicate millions of discs so quickly, so cheaply. This was something we were going to have to deal with.

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