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Is Patent Law Overdue for a Change?

The patent system that was established in America back at the end of the 19th century has many notches in its belt. Under it, the cotton gin was patented as well as countless software designs. Some might argue that this is testament to its broad, flexible, and enduring nature.

However, others would say hogwash. An overwhelming number of patent filings today are software and tech related, the sorts of "patentable" material that was not in existence during the nascent years of this nation's founding. As it is, a single body of patent law presides over all sectors of patentable subject matter. Some are saying that the system is a bit long in the tooth, and costing companies time and money.

Feel like you're reinventing the wheel every time you draft a contract? Do you wish you could get more done with the work you already have? You're not alone. For plenty of in-house lawyers, writing and rewriting legal agreements becomes a bit of Sisyphean task after a while; the mountain is the same, the rock is pretty similar, and only a few of the key terms have changed, like whether the rock rolls back down on your left or your right.

Even if you're using automated document and contract software, you still might not be making full use of the valuable data and information you already have. But you could be. Thomson Reuters, FindLaw's parent company, recently unveiled Contract Express 6.0, which brings new capabilities to your document automation software, allowing you to get even more out of your docs.

Cyber Defamation and What You Can Do About It

Cyber defamation has been the tech tort that has dogged companies and individuals for almost a decade now. Who knew that the anonymity of the Internet would lead to some people to venture off into a character murdering campaign?

We all pay a price for the ability to be able to reach literally millions of people almost instantly. But what are some of the legal considerations a company must think about when addressing this pervasive problem we call cyber defamation?

When it comes to patents and intellectual property, the techies down in Silicon Valley often repeat a familiar mantra: patents are anticompetitive, anti-innovation, just plain bad. But that simplistic outlook was challenged, a bit, in a recent talk by Ted Ullyot, former general counsel for Facebook.

In a presentation entitled "Innovation, Disruption and Intellectual Property: A View From Silicon Valley," Ullyot told students and professors at Marquette Law School that the relationship between technological innovation and intellectual property law was slightly more complicated than typical dogma allows.

Contract Management for In-House: Let Technology Do the Heavy Lifting

If you're an in-house lawyer -- particularly for a large company -- you'll know the pain of endless juggling of contracts. It is estimated that the average Fortune 1000 company maintains between 20,000 to 40,000 active contracts. Yikes.

Smaller companies of course deal with contract numbers that are much smaller, but it would be wrong to say that in-house lawyers' lives in those companies are much easier. How does an in-house for a small company deal with it all?

Attorneys have been cloud-cautious for awhile, worried about potential breaches of confidential data and other legal considerations. But that hasn't stopped them from jump onboard -- and they lag well behind businesses generally.

But it's not just law firms who should think carefully about their cloud usage. According to a recent survey, 88 percent of businesses with over 100 employees have to comply with some regulatory standards when using the cloud. But don't worry, a few corporate policies can help make cloud usage and regulatory compliance easier.

You check your work email on your phone, have a copy of your weekly schedule on your personal tablet, and access company docs from both your work and home PCs. Welcome to the age of BYOD: bring your own device.

BYOD policies -- be they official or informal -- allow employees to bring their personally-owned tech devices to the workplace and use them to access privileged information. And with BYOD comes plenty of risk. Here's how corporate counsel can help protect against them.

Apple's General Counsel Will Try to Convince Congress in Encryption Debate

Encryption-Opera continues as Apple's General Counsel announces plans to take the encryption debate to Capitol Hill by testifying before the House Judiciary Committee. Apple's General Counsel, Bruce Sewell, plans to reiterate the arguments that Tim Cook has already made to the American public and its customers: We object.

We've taken a look at the text of the opening remarks that Sewell will delivery to the HJC tomorrow. It's mostly stuff that you've already seen. But the implications for this situation can't be overstated, not only for individuals' phones, but potentially for company networks, too.

Survey: Law Departments Are Warming up to the Cloud

Like it or not, the cloud is coming and it looks like its here to stay. According to a survey-slash-white-paper by AriKaplan Advisors, law firms and in-house legal departments are slowly but surely adopting more cloud based computing into their business models. Now at least 84 percent of respondents are open to the cloud.

This seems to be a significant jump from previous numbers that generally placed firm openness to the cloud at around 68 percent.

Tech Companies Are Outraged Over U.K.'s Spying Bill

If you're lucky enough to be on one of the in-house counsel teams of Facebook, Google, Apple another giant tech company, then you've already heard about the U.K.'s proposed Investigatory Powers Bill. Your companies are not happy.

But what are some of the concerns that are getting tech firms so upset?