Practice Areas

Software/Technology Licensing

You’ve stayed up for 48 hours straight sometimes over the last few months or years to finish the perfect code on the new program.  All that Red Bull goes down a little easier when suddenly there is interest from the outside world in what you’ve created.  Do you want to sell the program outright, or just let other people use it?  Is the software delivered on CD or accessed through the cloud? These are the kinds of questions we can help you think about, and we’ll put together a solid, clear agreement that protects you in the best way possible and maximizes the deal for you, whether you are licensing in or out, or selling or buying.

Good written agreements create comfortable relationships between customers and vendors, and help you prioritize your company’s needs and establish consistent business practices.  Agreements on the front-end can save you thousands of dollars later in attorney’s fees, court costs, lost work time, heartbreak and headaches.  That is true even for our clients who aren’t hardcore coders, so we draft and negotiate licenses for hardware and other technology, as well as service agreements for web designers, marketers, and consultants.  Our attorneys have over a decade of experience drafting and negotiating contracts for clients across industries – major auto part manufacturers, small equine and livestock companies, individual investors, and retail establishments.  We have gotten out our red pens, rewritten provisions, and had debates with opposing counsel over telecommunication agreements, patent licenses, source code escrow agreements, and software support-and-maintenance schedules.  (Seriously, it’s one of Tara’s favorite things to do.  She’s not kidding).

Litigation

If you’re successful enough, then chances are someone is going to think you’re worth suing. And chances are you have developed something valuable enough to be worth protecting. While good licensing and intellectual-property practices will head off most disputes before they arise, legal disputes are inevitable. When disputes do arise, you can count on our experience in federal and Tennessee courts and before arbitration panels. We’ll use our extensive knowledge of legal procedure to present you with a range of options and discuss which option best suits your immediate needs.

But you can count on more than that. You can count on us to keep you apprised of your options and the status of your litigation, and to explain the hows and whys. Probably no other field of law is more opaque to the non-lawyer than litigation or “civil procedure,” and it is easy to become frustrated with the process. The “Rules” are as they are for a reason, sometimes even for a good reason, and we’ll make sure you understand what’s going on and why. And we’ll explain your options and the costs (both monetary and otherwise).

Litigation is stressful enough, even without feeling like it’s out of your control. We’ll make sure you have the information you need to stay in control.

Trademark Prosecution/Brand Protection

Sometimes it can feel like a startup by any other name just wouldn’t be the same.  If that’s true for you, then it’s important to think about trademark protection early on.  Trademarks are what signifies your brand to your customers and let’s them know that their products and services are coming from a trusted source – your company.   Your brand should reflect your business identity, but also be able to get maximize protection under trademark law to keep your competitors from treading on your company’s goodwill. We also shepherd brand names through the entire trademark application and registration process, and help you keep watch on the marketplace to stop infringement before it becomes a huge expense and hassle.  We also maintain a network of reliable trademark counsel across the globe for brands that are expanding internationally, so our clients can be protected wherever their business goes.

Copyright Registration and Licensing

Before you license out your software, or agree to that book deal or put the best picture you took all year up on Google +, remember that all of these are assets that can (and often should) be protected. Much of what you produce is protected under copyright law from the moment of creation – we work with you to identify those assets that can and should be registered with the Copyright Office, and we help you with the strategies and the documents to allow you to exploit the full value of those works.  Knowing what your company’s intellectual property assets are, including its copyrights, can go a long way in helping to put a value on the company, and can often make that value much higher than you might have thought.

Internet Law

Cyberspace is not a safe haven from regular “terrestrial” laws, but it does create unique issues that need to be carefully trod around.  We can help guide you through the minefields – we will work with you to craft web site terms of use that give you protection in case of copyright infringement from user-generated content.  We will advise you on the best ways to keep your file-sharing site safely moored in the safe harbor of immunity under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.  When cybersquatters get in the way, we will help clear them out quickly and efficiently.

As we move into a system of commerce that increasingly trades personal data instead of money, new questions are arising all the time about what can be done without data without running afoul of privacy laws.  Mobile apps and geolocation devices raise their own unique issues.  We keep up with the changing state of the law and advise our clients constantly on how to stay ahead of the curve without sacrificing good business opportunities.

Entertainment Law

For all the innovation and technological advancements happening in Nashville, this is still Music City, and there are still men and women putting pen to paper to spill their hearts into the next songwriting project and other people standing up to a microphone in a bar on lower Broadway to sing those songs with all their might.  It is probably not earth shattering news to say that that way of life is increasingly harder to maintain.  We understand the business – we’ve spent years managing publishing catalogs and drafting record deals, management agreements, and festival production contracts.  We’ve drafted and negotiated synchronization, mechanical, and performance licenses, and helped companies who are finding new ways to represent artists through joint ventures, sponsorships, branded entertainment, and multi-media outreach.

We know how music money flows, so not only can we help creative clients make a living, but we have valuable insight for the incredible tech companies in town forging legitimate and promising business models around exposing, delivering, and administrating music online.

Rick and Tara are experienced lawyers who have set out to serve clients in a new way. Rick's roots reach back to his Silicon Valley home, where he first developed his litigation-oriented practice before moving to Nashville in 2004. Tara got her start in the music publishing business in Nashville in 1998 and has used that experience to form the basis of her transactional law practice since graduating from law school in 2004.
Call us -- we want to make your next business or creative project a success!
615.734.1188 (Rick)
615.734.1122 (Tara)

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