Author Archive


What is a copyright?

Copyright law protects original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated. Broken down, an author must have the following three requirements for a valid copyright: Original (independently created by the author); Be in a physical form (no matter how briefly ...


Trademarks: An Overview

Trademarks can be a word, phrase, design, symbol, or a combination of them.  The purpose of a trademark is to accurately identify the origin of goods or services. Shapes can only be trademarked if they are distinctive. Process of obtaining a ...


Patents: An Overview

Patents cover new, non-obvious, and useful inventions, such as machines, devices, chemical compositions, and manufacturing processes. The right to exclude is given to the inventor who first files with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Patents are the most defined and formal type of intellectual property. Unlike trademarks and copyrights, which are protected even if ...


Intellectual Property 101

"Intellectual Property" or "IP" refers to creations of the mind.  Many governments, including the United States in the US Constitution, have made a policy decision to give the inventor/author/creator a limited monopoly on certain types of intellectual property.  This monopoly and its limitations attempt to serve two, competing purposes. Encourage and reward creators.  As a society, we want to encourage ...


What to expect when you mediate a case

As I was talking to a colleague about my mediation practice, it occurred to me that there were a number of people who may not know what to expect when they arrive at mediation. Typically, mediations follow a predictable path: The Mediator Begins the Opening Session. The mediation process starts with an opening session. After the parties arrive and make themselves comfortable, ...


Preparing for Mediation

I recently had the pleasure of helping an injured woman and a business bring an end to their lawsuit. At first glance, it did not appear as though the parties were interested in settling the case. The woman felt angry that the business had never acknowledged her complaints. The business feared that the woman exaggerated her claim. Yet, ...


Integrity in the Legal profession

Last night, I attended a reception for the alumni of my former firm, Fulbright & Jaworski. As I looked around the room, I was flooded with warm feelings for my former colleagues. Fulbright recruited me when I was at the University of Texas law school. From the time I agreed to accept my position there to the ...


Ability to choose defense counsel

Last week, I spoke on the topic of “What Every Business Lawyer Needs to Know about Insurance.” One of the most frequent questions for lawyers who represent businesses is whether the insured has the ability to choose counsel. By way of background, many insurance policies require the insurance carrier to pay for the cost to defend claims that may be ...


Volunteer Board Member

My younger brother, a writing professor at Columbia University, called me in a panic earlier this week. He serves on the board of his building’s homeowners’ association on a volunteer basis. He told me that someone did not like a decision the board had made, and had threatened to sue the board members personally. I have handled several lawsuits on behalf ...