Protect Chicago Intellectual Property Now To Avoid Business Litigation Later
The question of who owns the right to Chicago intellectual property can become central in certain business disputes, such as the one happening right now between the legal team at Facebook and lawyers for a wood pellet salesman claiming half ownership of the social networking giant.
Our Chicago intellectual property attorneys know how important it is to have these elements settled when a business is in its infancy. It can be tricky because ideas aren't tangible. Unlike an actual piece of property, proving ownership of intellectual property can mean using a host of creative, forensic techniques.
While witnesses are key in many business litigation cases, in some situations, the heart of the issue is what was said or promised between the two disputing parties. A he-said-she-said type of situation is going to require a different legal approach.
The tack taken by Facebook is to discredit the plaintiff and his evidence by alleging that much of his "proof" has been doctored or simply made up. They have even gone so far as to call his lawsuit a "fraudulent shakedown."
Part of what does give some credibility to the wood pellet salesman was that he did meet and work with Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg while the latter was still a student at Harvard. The plaintiff claims that during that time, around 2003, he signed a contract with Zuckerberg that entitles him to 50 percent of "The Face Book."
The salesman said he had forgotten about the contract for a number of years, but later discovered it as he was looking for documents in his files amid allegations of sales fraud - (the latter of which doesn't help the credibility of his claim).
However, Zuckerberg's team says forensic experts have proven that the ink on that contract is less than two years old. What's more, it appears the salesman put the document out in the sun, to give it the distinct appearance of age.
Other e-mail records produced by the salesman were reportedly time stamped in an earlier year than it actually was after his computer clock was reset, the Facebook attorneys have alleged.
While Zuckerberg did end up agreeing to a multi-million dollar settlement with two other Harvard students who claimed he heisted their social networking idea, the claim by the salesman appears a bit far-fetched, especially in light of the evidence that appears to have been tampered with.
Facebook has asked the court to dismiss the claims, but the court has yet to rule on that motion.
While the vast majority of individuals aren't going to have half of a $5 billion business on the line, it's important to remember that Facebook wasn't always this lucrative. The fact that it has made so much money is what has made it a prime target for these types of lawsuits.
The whole situation illustrates why it is so important to protect intellectual property. When you leave your car on the curb, you lock it up, right? Your ideas - which have the potential to be exponentially more valuable - should be no different.
Jeremy A. Gibson & Associates is a law firm dedicated to business litigation in Chicago and elsewhere in Illinois. Call 877-452-4529 for a free consultation.