Posts by Chambliss Startup Group

Cybersecurity 101 for Startups

Posted by on Jan 30, 2018 in Cybersecurity

Every business, including startups, has data to protect. So, it’s not really a matter of if, but when an organization will experience cyber and data privacy threats. This post will provide tips on how to proactively protect data related to employees, customers, vendors, operations, and intellectual property. From creating password strategies to setting up incident response plans, there are many things organizations can do to potentially save a ton of stress, cash, and even reputation. Prepare: Designate a person or team to handle information security and preparedness. A designated internal team member may be an executive or someone in legal, HR, or marketing. Someone designated outside the company may be an attorney, public relations representative, or an insurance contact. Make a plan to address cyber incidents. Prevent: Train your employees regularly. Most breaches result from human error. Hacks can be caused by phishing, ransomware, identity theft, and email compromise. Use strong passwords. Change them regularly and don’t share them with anyone. Password tip: a strong, smart password is private, unique, and is changed every 90 days. A good rule of thumb is to create an acronym from a sentence. Use symbols for some of the letters and include both upper and lowercase letters. For instance, you can use capital letters for proper nouns. Be sure it includes numbers, too. Example: I<32soSicfBR! / I love two scoops of Snickers ice cream from Baskin Robbins! Some password security tools we recommend include multi-factor authentication (2FA), biometric authentication (finger print, voice print, facial recognition), and password managers. Avoid public Wi-Fi. Use only secure internet connections for business matters. Protect computers by using firewalls, updating software, installing antivirus and antimalware, encrypting sensitive information, and regularly backing up files. Work with trusted business partners and know how to contact them. Dispose of data and media safely and securely. Respond: Mobilize your entire team, both internal and external. Examples of internal team members include information security officer, executive-level officer, in-house legal, marketing, and human resources. External examples include outside counsel, public relations, and insurance. Stop the breach – determine the cause of the breach and take necessary steps to stop it. IT professionals and/or forensic experts may get involved at this point. Notify all appropriate parties including affected customers, insurers, and law enforcement. Make any and all appropriate reparations including discounts, damages, free credit freezes, and credit monitoring. Seek any and all appropriate remediation. Hopefully this provides a solid foundation for where to start with cybersecurity. Threats and solutions are constantly changing, and it’s important to remain up-to-date with all operating system,  antivirus, and antimalware updates. While there are many things that can be done to hardware and software to protect information, perhaps the most important action to take is educating and training employees and service vendors who access company data. Remember, human error is almost always the cause for a breach. Brief Case Study Following Target’s 2013 holiday season hack of over 41 million credit and debit card accounts, Target was required to employ “an executive or officer with appropriate background or experience in information security” to implement and maintain its information security program through implementing a new IS program, changing network system policies, executing data encryption guidelines, and ensuring vendor compliance. If you have any questions regarding cybersecurity for your startup, please reach out to Paul, Andrew, or another member of our...

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Intellectual Property Law Series: Common Trademark Pitfalls Even the Pros Make

Posted by on Dec 4, 2017 in Intellectual Property

We’ve all heard of trademarks. But, what exactly do they do? And how do you select your trademarks, protect them, and then properly use them in commerce? As we discussed in the previous article, trademarks identify original sources for products and services and ideally help distinguish one source’s goods and services from another source’s goods and services. Trademarks can come in a variety of forms, including logos, taglines, product or service names, colors, scents, etc. As many of you already know, selecting a trademark is not always an easy task. And, properly using your trademark in commerce requires diligence. Avoiding the mistakes below can help you protect your trademarks, wallet, brand, and reputation. 7 Tips to Avoid Common Trademark Pitfalls: 1. Select a distinctive mark. In order for you to distinguish your goods and services from others, your trademark must be distinctive, i.e. not confusingly similar to another’s mark for similar goods or services. If your trademark confuses consumers as to the source of origin of your goods or services, you run the risk of losing your mark and even a lawsuit for infringement. So, make sure your mark is distinctive before you begin to use it in commerce. Trademarks can be: Arbitrary (Apple for computers, Kodak for cameras) or Suggestive (Microsoft for microprocessor software)   However, trademark protection is not afforded to marks that are: Descriptive (Smartphone for smart phones) or Generic (Escalator, Realtor, Dumpster) 2. Conduct a search to see if any others are using your mark or something confusingly similar. Even if your mark is not identical to another’s mark, you could still be at risk. We recommend searching through online search engines like Google and reviewing the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) database records. Not all trademarks are registered with the USPTO, but you still need to be cautious of using marks similar to others that already exist. Run the search before registering your trademark or using it in commerce. Example of Confusingly Similar Names but Vastly Different Products 3. Register your mark with the USPTO. Trademark registration gives you the exclusive right to use your mark in all 50 states for the covered goods/services, except for prior users. The registration process can be started based on the intent to use the mark in commerce, even if you haven’t used it yet. After five years of continued use in commerce, a registered mark can become incontestable, meaning that others cannot contest the validity of your mark. 4. Properly mark your trademark. Remember this difference: a common law trademark (a mark that is not registered with the USPTO) is marked with ™, and a mark that is registered with the USPTO is marked with ®. Use the ™ symbol before you file your trademark application with the USPTO and during the pendency of the federal trademark application. Upon receiving a federal registration, switch the ™ symbols to ® symbols. 5. Use your trademark as a proper adjective. The proper adjective describes the generic name of goods or services to which it applies. For example, we stocked up on Q-tips® cotton swabs and Little Debbie® snack cakes. Incorrect: Little Debbie® represents a third of the snack cake market. Correct: Little Debbie® snack cakes represent a third of the snack cake market. The risk of using your mark as a noun instead of an adjective is total loss of your trademark rights. If your mark is used as a noun and becomes a generic term for the goods or services with which it is used, you will lose your exclusive rights to the term and your competitors will be able to...

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Intellectual Property Law Series: Do Trademarks Matter? Yes.

Posted by on Nov 9, 2017 in Intellectual Property

Companies have many assets to protect, such as cash, equipment, inventory, furniture, etc. But, one asset that is often overlooked is intellectual property (IP), such as trademarks, patents, copyrights, and trade secrets. In today’s global economy, it is critical for business owners, executives, inventors, authors, and marketing professionals to identify their IP, take the steps necessary to protect it, and enforce their rights when appropriate. Our team presents this first article of a series that will provide you important reminders and tips for protecting your IP. This first one specifically covers IP assets protected under trademark principles, including the following: Trademarks – identify goods or products Service marks – identify service provided for the benefit of another Trade dress – identifies packaging and product configurations Trade names – identify names under which businesses operate A trademark identifies which person or company is the original source of a product or service and distinguishes it from those made or provided by competitors. Trademarks can take the form of names (Gillette®), brands (Johnson & Johnson’s “Band Aid®”), designs and symbols (Starbuck’s twin-tailed mermaid logo), and slogans (Walmart’s “Save Money. Live Better.”). A service mark identifies a service provided for the benefit of another, such as Unum insurance. Trademarks consisting of color, sound, packaging, and scents are commonly referred to as trade dress like the shape of a Coca-Cola glass bottle and the colors of 7-Eleven’s logo. A trade name is the name under which businesses operate and is usually different from their legal name. When managing your IP, the first step is to always identify your assets. The second step is to protect them. And, not protecting your IP could result in the loss of money (lawsuits, license fees, and settlements), time (fighting to protect your rights), credibility, and even your brand or company identity. The following articles in this series will address mistakes to avoid when managing your trademarks and copyrights. If you have questions about identifying, protecting, or enforcing your IP, please contact us. Interested in learning more about Paul and the Chambliss IP practice? Click to watch Paul’s video in our “UNLEASHED” video...

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Top 10 Takeaways from “Little Town, Layered Ecosystem: A Case Study of Chattanooga”

Posted by on Apr 14, 2016 in Update!

Our Chambliss Startup Group thrives on supporting entrepreneurs and not just with legal counsel. Our team believes in the entrepreneurial movement happening in Chattanooga, and we’re making a point to be a part of it, whether it’s by offering networking opportunities, developing a sense of community, or being a resource. But we’re not the only ones. There are a handful of solid supporters that have played a key role in this movement, and people are noticing. For example, this billion-dollar private, nonpartisan foundation recently put us on their map. The Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation recently released the report “Little Town, Layered Ecosystem: A Case Study of Chattanooga,” which details the entrepreneurial support system in our hometown. The Kauffman Foundation is based in Kansas City, Missouri. The report is just one part of the Kauffman Foundation Research Series on City, Metro, and Regional Entrepreneurship. Other cities featured include Kansas City, St. Louis, and Indianapolis. If you haven’t read the report, it’s definitely worth taking a look. For those of you crunched for time, here are our top 10 takeaways: TOP 10 TAKEAWAYS FROM “LITTLE TOWN, LAYERED ECOSYSTEM: A CASE STUDY OF CHATTANOOGA”   1. The Chattanooga entrepreneurial ecosystem has 3 layers: philanthropic foundations direct entrepreneurship support organizations organizations in the public sector, including Mayor Berke’s office 2. Gig – the big spark. The Gig – Chattanooga’s (first in the nation) one-gigabit fiber internet service provided by EPB – got things moving and shaking among city leaders, entrepreneurs, and support organizations.   “Now everybody says, ‘We have to stay first, we have to do something’…”   3. Two local foundations are major players in not just the entrepreneurial ecosystem, but also in Chattanooga’s general development: Lyndhurst Foundation and Benwood Foundation.   4. The 5 main entrepreneurial support organizations are: The CO.LAB Us! Chambliss Startup Group Lamp Post Group LAUNCH Launch Tennessee 5. Let’s not forget EPB.   “Since the launch of the Gig, EPB estimates that ninety-one companies have been founded in Chattanooga, with approximately $50 million in venture capital provided from six firms.”   6. Where’s the best place in the ecosystem? The Innovation District. Shout out to the Enterprise Center located in the Edney Building at the heart of the district.  7. Mayor Berke played a huge role in bringing the right people together.    He not only exercises “his support through his official powers,” but he is also one of the biggest “cheerleaders” for the entrepreneurial community.   8. It doesn’t hurt that Chattanooga is an “attractive and affordable place to live.” Entrepreneurs migrating to our town enjoy it! 9. Chattanooga is just one example of how local assets can be utilized for the “betterment of a city ecosystem.”   “There are untapped and perhaps unexpected sources of entrepreneurship in every place.”   10. If you’re still not getting the ecosystem concept, a picture’s worth a thousand words.   This is just a tiny snapshot of the report, and we encourage you to take a look. It’s inspiring to see all the different organizations, firms, entities, individuals, and believers involved in making our hometown entrepreneurial ecosystem work for the betterment of the...

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Chambliss Startup Group Sponsors “Will This Float” Pitch Event

Posted by on Dec 9, 2015 in Crowdfunding and Fund Raising

The Company Lab (CO.LAB), based in Chattanoooga, TN, will host “Will This Float?” at the Revelry Room on Thursday, December 10, 2015 from 6:00pm to 10:00 pm. “Will This Float?” is an annual business competition where startups and entrepreneurs have the chance to pitch their ideas to judges and the Chattanooga community for the chance to win cash prizes. The overall winner will take $1,000 home and a $500 voucher from Forum Sherpas. Two other finalists will receive $250 each. Our Chambliss Startup Group is pleased to offer 10 hours of free business services to the three winners. For more information about the event, please check out the Times Free Press and Nooga.com articles or visit the “Will This Float?” event page. Also, you can read about the overall winner Undaground here. *Purchase event tickets...

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