Chinh Pham, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Emerging Technology Practice, was featured in a TechCrunch article as part of a series covering start-up lawyers who founders love to work with. In this piece, Chinh shares his insights about start-ups and discusses his beginnings in the legal profession. To read the article, click here.
2018 was a year of transformation for the blockchain industry. While the market continued to see technological advancements in smart contracts, platform functionality, scalability and security, regulators took a firmer rein in pursuing those seeking to exploit the uninitiated or those engaged in outright fraud. In this issue of Greenberg Traurig’s Blockchain & Cryptocurrency Newsletter, we discuss some of the key enforcement actions and proceedings during 2018 that have shaped the regulatory environment in the United States and the continuing uncertainty over the classification of digital assets as securities.
In this issue:
1 – Disrupting the Disruptors: 2018 – The Year in Review
2 – Noteworthy Federal Securities Cases During 2018
- Securities and Exchange Commission v. Blockvest, LLC et al.: SEC’s Request for Preliminary Injunction Denied
- In the Matter of TokenLot, LLC et al.: SEC Order Against Unregistered Broker-Dealer
- In the Matter of Crypto Asset Management, LP: SEC Order Against Unregistered Hedge Fund
- In re Tomahawk Exploration: SEC Deems Token Airdrop as Sale of Securities
3 – 2018 State Regulatory Overview
- NASAA’s Operation Cryptosweep
- Initial Coin Offering (ICO) Enforcement Actions by States
4 – Traps for the Unwary: Federal Income Tax
5 – FinCEN Update
Click here to read the full GT Newsletter.
The Massachusetts Noncompetition Agreement Act, M.G.L. c. 149, § 24L, has been the law of the Commonwealth for almost four months. The statute only applies to agreements entered into between employers and certain employees and independent contractors on or after Oct. 1, 2018, so the law’s ramifications are still largely yet to be determined. Nevertheless, even in the short time the law has been operative, its implications for emerging technology and start-up companies have been significant.
To read the full GT Alert, click here.
Greenberg Traurig LLP’s Boston Intellectual Property (IP) Group congratulates four of its clients – Cruzar Medsystems, Inc., Kaleidoscope, Platelet BioGenesis, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute – for being honored with the 2018 Boston Patent Law Association (BPLA) Invented Here! award for their patented innovations. Their innovations are among only 12 patents that were selected from numerous nominations.
To read the full press release, click here.
With the legendary success of technology giants born on campus, and the possibility that today’s college student could be tomorrow’s tech mogul, the academic world recognizes that it can be a catalyst in helping student entrepreneurs achieve commercial success.
The past decade has seen a rapid rise in academic incubators designed to help student entrepreneurs launch their ventures and grow. Academic incubators position universities as progressive places, attracting students to real-world learning environments rather than conventional classroom settings. These incubators can also help schools attract top faculty and researchers and forge lasting connections between industry and academia. It’s no wonder that academic incubators are now a vital part of the higher education landscape.
Some incubators are located in a dedicated physical space on campus, offering an ecosystem that can provide consistent, in-person training, support, and networking opportunities. There are many notable examples of successful on-campus incubators, from Harvard iLab to Northeastern University’s IDEA to The Garage at Northwestern University. Others are expanding their reach, setting up off-site/remote facilities or operating on a virtual basis, to further support and help their student or alumni entrepreneurs connect to the local technology and investment communities.
Academic Incubators Go Off-Campus to Expand and Compete
The latest upward trend has universities setting up remote academic incubators, which are usually located in cities with vibrant local tech communities and strong ecosystems for start-ups. By bringing the academic incubator into these entrepreneurial hubs, the universities can connect students to like-minded entrepreneurs, so they can learn best practices, have access to funding opportunities, and advance their business ventures. In some instances, these remote academic incubators enable students to link their ventures with the growing number of private accelerators/incubators, such as Y Combinator, Dog Patch, MassChallenge, etc.
In 2017, Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) opened a new innovation and collaboration space in Boston’s Seaport District as a way to apply the university’s innovation strategy to Boston’s thriving innovation center. The prominent new location is about 40 miles from WPI’s main campus in Worcester, placing the school amidst some of the nation’s leading innovators and technology companies with whom WPI is looking to create helpful and strategic partnerships around curricular and research opportunities.
For North Carolina State University student entrepreneurs interested in downtown Raleigh, the school’s Office of Technology Commercialization and New Ventures offers the use of HQ Raleigh, a co-working space available to select companies that have in place an active option or license agreement. Home to over 70 start-ups, HQ Raleigh is designed to provide an environment that empowers, fosters, and cultivates companies that produce long-term job growth and positive social impact. The location affords start-ups access to the extended Raleigh and Triangle innovation and entrepreneur ecosystem, which includes professional service providers, mentors, serial entrepreneurs, and investors.
By providing new off-campus opportunities to student entrepreneurs, schools like WPI and NC State not only support the interests of student entrepreneurs but also create goodwill between the school and the broader innovation community. This can be a winning proposition for all, especially if the student venture strikes gold by developing the “next big thing.”
Universities Help Entrepreneurs Take the Plunge Via Immersion Programs
Schools are also providing immersion programs where students can thrive in an entrepreneurial environment and connect to key tech community influencers. This strategy can help with recruiting and raise the visibility of the school within the tech community.
For instance, Northwestern University students are privy to a rich offering of co-curricular programming as part of the Kellogg Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative and The Garage at Northwestern, the university’s start-up incubator in Evanston. The growing popularity of these joint programs has coincided with an increase in the number of students recruiting into companies on the West Coast. Leveraging Northwestern’s San Francisco campus, which opened in the spring of 2016, Kellogg began piloting an experiential learning program during the 2017 winter quarter. Through this program, Northwestern is helping students acclimate to the fast-paced tech world of Silicon Valley and capitalize on all that the region has to offer.
Remote Incubators Create a Community of Service Providers
Schools with incubators in remote locations can provide their students with access to an influential network; they can also connect students to local alumni groups as well as to the school’s network of service providers in that area. Service providers, such as business consultants, accountants, and lawyers, provide value-added services to academic incubators by holding office hours, hosting educational workshops, and providing student mentorship, which not only strengthens the relationship with the school but also provides a pipeline of potential new clients to the service providers.
Whether on- or off-campus, academic incubators foster strategic partnerships among students, academic institutions, and private industry. Today’s university students eager to start their own venture can benefit from the incubator model. These academic incubators provide the community, resources, and environment that can make success possible.
After years of collaboration, the National Cybersecurity Center of Excellence (NCCoE) at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has published a cybersecurity guide for electronic health record (EHR) applications on mobile devices (see “Securing Electronic Health Records on Mobile Devices,” SP 1800-1, published July 27, 2018). Even if your organization has prioritized mobile application cybersecurity, it is worth comparing the guide recommendations to your current mobile application cybersecurity posture to identify any potential gaps.
Global Securities Shareholder Barbara A. Jones, who currently serves as co-chair Greenberg Traurig’s Blockchain Task Force, has been profiled in Authority Magazine as one of the women experts who work in the Blockchain industry. In the piece, Barbara discuss a bit about her career background and current projects as related to Blockchain as well as her thoughts on the Blockchain and cryptocurrency industries. To read the article, click here.
Navigating IP Ownership Issues that May Otherwise Delay, Devalue, or Derail Funding and Exits
Many emerging tech companies focus only on the defensive nature of intellectual property – namely, deterring competitors from stealing technological innovations or copying creative branding. While these protections are important, it can be understandably difficult to justify the associated costs when you are still in the process of commercializing a product or service. So why not worry about IP later? Because in doing so, you may miss out on the opportunity to leverage an asset known to increase company valuation, attract funding, and position your company for the next level or potential exit.
Everybody is talking about blockchain as a disrupter in the banking and finance industries, but this emerging technology also has potential application for intellectual property (IP) protection. Blockchain creates the potential for an “open, distributed ledger” that permits the secure transfer and recordation of information and data, including digital assets, without the need for middlemen. Once recorded, the data in any given “block” cannot be changed retroactively, except in certain circumstances involving the modification of all subsequent blocks and the consent of a network majority. These features make blockchain interesting for digital currencies. Additionally, blockchain presents other benefits for trademark, copyright and patent protection, as well as IP licensing. Below are a few uses that are currently being explored.
David J. Dykeman authored an article titled “5 Tips to Protect Your Medtech Startup’s Innovations.” The article was published in Medical Design & Outsourcing as well as MassDevice.