John B.


Lawrence E. Laubscher, Jr.


Ian D. Titley

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John Farmer's Column  

John wears two hats – columnist and lawyer. He writes a monthly column, Leading-Edge Law, for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on breaking legal issues in the e-commerce, intellectual property and high-tech fields. He’s been writing columns since 1998.
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Patenting 101 – Steps, Costs and Other Tips

Monday, March 19th, 2012

I’ve been getting a heightened level of calls in recent months from first-time independent inventors interesting in patenting, so perhaps the economy is getting better. If you’ve been thinking about patenting, here’s the 101 on cost and process: Searching First Usually you do patent searching first and then apply for a patent if the search Read the full article…

Don’t Open a Musical Pandora’s Box at Your Business

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

I love Pandora, the online build-your-own station music service. Indeed, I wonder if I’m the only guy on the planet who has J. S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” and Steely Dan’s “Any World” on the same station. What if I have such confidence in my obviously sublime Read the full article…

Act Fast to Protect Yourself from the New Domain Names

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The process just launched for what could be hundreds of new generic top-level domain names (“gTLD’s”). If you want to protect your business from cybersquatting and opportunity loss in those domain names, you need to get moving now. A top-level domain name refers to the part of the domain name after the last dot, such Read the full article…

Police Your Trademarks or They Will Crumble

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Here’s a question for business owners: If you spent a fortune to build a new headquarters for your business, should you save money by not maintaining and securing the property? Would it be better to let the building be looted and crumble? Of course not, yet business owners commonly choose such false savings when it Read the full article…

Does the Employer or Employee Own the Twitter Account?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Do your employees use Twitter to promote your company or its products or services? If so, think about how to keep control over those Twitter accounts if tweeting employees depart. In case you don’t know how Twitter works, if you have a Twitter account, you can post messages of up to 140 characters. Anyone can Read the full article…

Consider the Total Legal and Management Effort Required to Move to the Cloud

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Many businesses are eager to move all or part of their business computing systems into the cloud. Before taking the leap, give thought to the total cost and legal issues associated with such a move. What constitutes cloud computing is fiercely debated, but I define cloud computing as using software and/or data storage that is Read the full article…

Ten Things about the New Patent Law

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The President recently signed legislation that makes big changes to patent law. Here’s a list of ten (hopefully) interesting things about it: 1. The new law is 150 pages long and is vague in many parts. It will take about a decade of judicial interpretation to make this law as clear as our old patent Read the full article…

Will the New Domain Names Matter to Businesses?

Monday, August 22nd, 2011

Will the new domain names be a big deal, a big headache or just a big yawn? In case you haven’t heard, the organization that oversees the administration and development of all Internet domain names – the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers – recently announced final plans to process applications to launch new Read the full article…

The Patent and Trademark Office Desperately Needs Financial Independence

Monday, July 25th, 2011

It’s effectively a Ponzi scheme. It depends on a large stream of payments from new customers to fund serving those who have already paid in full. It has a huge unfunded liability in the form of future commitments for which the government has no backing assets. An economic downturn is calamitous because new-customer payments drop Read the full article…

Online Content Aggregators Win Important Case Against Content Creators

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2011

A recent federal appellate court decision will impact the struggle between those who produce online content and those who aggregate or repackage that content. Unless and until Congress intervenes, the aggregators and repackagers are in a dominant position. This case concerned a financial news aggregation service called Fly’s business is to obtain the just-released Read the full article…