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Archive for the ‘Legal / I.P.’ Category

Cyber & Network Security: “I See Said The Blind Man…”

October 31st, 2012 Comments off

After joining my latest company, I’ve found myself exposed to a group of brilliant individuals who have a laser focused fascination for cyber security and every subtlety tied to it. For those that know my background, the natural question is how did I get pulled into this one? After my tours of duty with Quiksilver & DC Shoes, Schneider Electric, Pacific Sunwear, and investment banking, the security industry is a bit out of my realm. But then again, I wasn’t brought in for my security expertise, but for my ability to drive financial performance and create a foundation for the rest of this group to prosper.

However, it has been eye opening experience working with this group. Although all the companies I’ve worked with had extensive IT departments, as well as a focus on “network security”, this is a whole different level. Literally, on my first day with this team, I took immediate actions to tighten down my own personal information after reading a few articles that were forwarded to me. One article in particular discussed a journalist who literally had his identity wiped clean, including family pictures kept online, after his accounts were hacked. Unbelievable.

The more noticeable hindsight to me as I was discussing other companies with our team is that I don’t recall EVER receiving an email where the file was password protected. Now keep in mind that I’ve worked for a number of different public companies, as well as equity research at an investment bank, and I have NEVER received a password encrypted file. Maybe a password so I couldn’t alter the structure, but not to actually open the file. Even in my own previous approach, my idea of “locking things down” was to send any forecast or financial info out in PDF so it couldn’t be modified. I’m pretty much chuckling at that approach now in comparison to what the daily MO is here.

What is even more interesting is the approach that most corporate IT departments are taking with regards to internet access, the opening of unfamiliar links, the lack of ongoing security training, and the relative absence of putting any significant effort into this area. Most companies may not offer that much for a targeted attack, but the subsequent cost and loss of productivity is an entirely different matter. I know I’m looking forward to the continued immersion & learning about this industry. For myself, the obvious phrase that came to mind was “I see said the blind man…”, but I think I’m still relatively blind on the security front.

Thanks for reading…

Jeffrey Ishmael

Have You Defined Your Legal Strategy?

August 28th, 2009 Comments off

            If there’s one thing a CFO hates, it’s surprises. Whether on the revenue, expense, or legal front, we do everything we can on a daily basis to mitigate or eliminate this risk. One of the biggest areas for risk, based on the potential cost impact, are lengthy and costly legal battles. I’ve had to deal with these in detail at the last two companies I’ve been with, from both the Plaintiff and Defendant sides of the table. It’s not only costly, but a complete distraction from running your everyday business.

            I’m not going to spend any time discussing past situations since this would only provide an insight into strategies or my preferred approach. I won’t make it that easy for others. What I have been able to see in past actions is that there are suits that have a definitive merit and the other party needs to cease their actions, or there are those that are more opportunistic and the other party sees the easy buck. The latter are those that are completely infuriating. However, regardless of the legitimacy, you need to ask if your company is taking the necessary steps to mitigate the risk and proactively manage your IP portfolio and integrate your legal team (whether internal or external) into business development on a regular basis. Until you take this step, you’re primarily going to be working in a reactionary state. If you work proactively, then at least when the surprises happen you’re much more prepared to deal with it.

            If we’re to assume the role as the “Regulator of Risk”, then incorporating your legal team in your business development is really no different than paying an annual insurance policy. While there are insurance policies for corporate IP matters, these are reactionary and will not offer you assistance in avoiding unnecessary skirmishes. It’s too exhausting a topic to start covering major points, but where do you stand on….

§  Ensuring your corporate name & logo is protected across major global markets?

§  Ensuring that employees are not utilizing unauthorized software internally or externally?

§  Ensuring that brand or model names are not infringing?

§  Ensuring that your brand or model names have been appropriate registered, even if only used for a single season?

§  Ensuring that specific technologies or software has specific protocols for use and/or distribution?

§  Ensuring that there are protocols in place to assess the creative sources of new product launches?

            Again, these points don’t even scratch the surface, but unless you take a proactive approach to this area you might very well find yourself in a costly legal battle. Cover your bases, keep the communication constant, constantly involve yourself in all areas of the business, and you’ll have a higher knowledge and confidence level when these “surprises” hit.

 

Thanks for Reading. . . .

 

Jeffrey Ishmael