Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Technology Law: A Wild Fun Ride

By Jim Verdonik

I'm an attorney with Ward and Smith PA.  I also write a column about business and law for American Business Journals, have authored multiple books and teach an eLearning course for entrepreneurs.  You can reach me at or  Or you can check out my eLearning course at or or purchase my books

I've been a technology lawyer for a long time.
But I still get a thrill when a client tells me about a new technology they are working on.

It's like having a window into the future.
What's a dream today, becomes cutting edge technology tomorrow and becomes a part of our everyday lives the following week.  Then the next month its obsolete and something new replaces it.

OK, it really doesn't happen that fast. 
Those "overnight successes" you read about in business publications often take years or even a decade to turn a dream into a commercial product.  The media may like stories about overnight successes, but there's a lot of pain and suffering in the process.  Some dreams never become reality.  But that's what makes it really interesting to be part of the process. 

Most tech companies are like a murder mystery.  We don't know the outcome of the story until it's over.  Sometimes the hero dies on the last page.  It makes the successes that much more exciting.  That's why I never really got into James Bond movies despite all the special effects.  You know that whatever happens, James Bond doesn't die.  They need him in the sequel.
Let's start exploring why technology clients are so great to work with by looking at this video that explains the connection between tech clients and Swiss Cheese:

One of the benefits of working with young businesses is that I've had many opportunities to learn and expand my experience.  When problems need to be solved, are there any boundaries between law and business?  What good is legal advice, if it doesn't make business sense?  This video explains how my clients taught me how to help them and how I share that experience with others:

I've been lucky to be able to work in a wide range of science and technology based businesses.  Industries I have experience in include:
-           Information technology, including telecommunications and semiconductors, software, internet, social media and computer games.
·        Health related, including biotech and drug development and medical devices.
·        Crossover industries that combine information technology and health services, including clinical trials and electronic medical records.
·        Energy related industries including natural gas technology, biomass and solar

Let's explore some of my deals in these industries.
But first a question: What do Harrison Ford and I have in common?

Biotechnology.  I'll answer that question in this video clip about a biotechnology drug license deal I did.  Hollywood later made a movie (called Extraordinary Measures) about developing and bringing that drug (Myozyme) to market.  I don't remember seeing either Harrison Ford or Brendan Frasier in the labs or negotiating rooms, but they both starred in the movie.  I wouldn't call it a great movie, but I recommend that people who work in health related businesses show it to their children.  It helps children understand the work mom and dad do developing drugs and medical devices and the effects their work has on people's health.

I like health industry projects.  The end result of a ten-year research and development project helps lots of people.
Video Games.  On the lighter side, my work in the Video Game Industry was just a whole lot of fun. I worked for a client who did joint ventures with authors Tom Clancy and Michael Crichton to create computer games based on their novels.  In these deals we had to allocate income streams based on book rights, movie rights, TV rights, computer game rights and endorsements and spin-off product rights.  In this video I explain how to deal with Hollywood and the publishing industry:

International Deals.  The market for technology and science based industries is worldwide.  Even relatively small companies negotiate international partnering deals.  So you get a lot of experience in cross border transactions.  In this video I explain how that worked for a client who licenses technology to the natural gas industry.  I also tell a story about three of my clients who bump into one another in a hotel lobby in China.  That tells you how small a place the world is getting.
Ultimately, working with young technology and science and based companies taught me that I can be successful only if my clients succeed.  This video explains how we work together to achieve that:

That's the end of our journey together exploring what it's like to be a technology lawyer.

It's difficult to predict the future, but one thing is certain: The next new technology is just around the corner.
If you would like to learn more about technology or other issues important to your success, you can reach me at or  Or you can check out my eLearning course at or or purchase my books at


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