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By J.D. Houvener
Patent Attorney and Founder

All right, David, let’s get to our guests. What do you think? 

I cyber-stalked him ever so slightly earlier. 

Awesome. Okeke, welcome to our show. I’m excited. 

Thank you for having me again. 

Yeah, you’re most welcome. So, this is good. I know we talked about this yesterday. The joke probably never gets old for you. You are AI. And we even learned your middle name is IP, for goodness sakes. So give us a little bit of background. Who you are, sir, and then we’ll jump in with some questions.

Sure. My name is Afam I Okeke. I am an Intellectual Property and Technology attorney at my firm at A.I. Okeke Legal  PLLC out in Houston. I handle clients from all over the world, from startups to established companies, dealing with a variety of issues, including technology law, AI, ML, metaverse, NFTs, blockchain, cryptocurrency—you name it. From there, I also handle issues related to data privacy and cybersecurity. I have my MBA and also my CIPP US license. So, I am always advising startups as well. Thank you, Brad. 

That was a lot of stuff, action-packed. Let’s just take the last thing you said. That’s a mouthful of acronyms. Maybe that CIPP—

Certified Information Privacy Professional. Okay, so with that certification, I just learned a variety of data privacy laws, and I am a pro on protecting various clients on data privacy issues. 

All right, let’s start there. I mean, you know, for a startup, let’s say, you know, kind of running one of our classic kind of inventors that’s got a new product, a physical product they want to bring to market. Are there any real issues, you know, that maybe I’m unaware of and maybe the entrepreneur just getting started selling a product online that maybe is unaware that you’ve been consulting them about?

Yes, there’s a variety of issues. Obviously, data privacy, and depending on the business, IP could come into play. As most businesses today, in 2023, over 50 percent of companies utilize artificial intelligence. In the future, over 70 percent of people are going to utilize artificial intelligence. So, data privacy and intellectual property are definitely going to be a primary concern for most businesses when starting out. 

So, first to keep in mind is entity formation. Some states have their own data privacy laws, and if you’re dealing with international data transfers, it’s important to be compliant with GDPR. That’s the EU version of the data privacy governance, similar to the CCPA in California, which most states are adopting. Those are the two primary issues. As far as IP is concerned, we have copyrights, trademarks, and patents. 

Copyright gives you the exclusive right to distribute and reproduce certain original works. Patents give you the ability to have a sort of a monopoly, not really a monopoly, on a particular technical invention. Trademarks give you the right to the slogan, the brand name. All those considerations are something that someone who’s starting their business should keep in mind because whenever you are starting a business, you may infringe on one of those different intellectual property rights.

Absolutely, and David’s dog agrees vehemently. But like data, right? You know, data privacy things that I’m thinking of for me like alarm bells go off when I start thinking about keeping credit cards or credit card numbers or maybe, you know, really sensitive data, maybe collecting a W-2 or a tax return maybe. But what if it’s just name, email, phone? I mean, you know, do you have to get some extra level of encryption or if you use a regular CRM, are you going to be okay?

No. That’s a good question. 

Okay, he says you’re not going to be okay. JD, sorry, man. 

All right, with cyber attackers now, internally, you have to be right 100 percent of the time. But for a cyber attacker, they only have to be right once. So that’s why internal protection, data privacy protections, are important. With your privacy policies and making sure that data governance is moving accordingly, like everyone is doing their job as they’re supposed to, and everyone knows their roles, that’s important. So whenever you’re collecting data like credit card numbers, W-2s with Social Security numbers on them, it’s important to keep those under multi-factor authentication and lock and key because if it’s just easy to access it through just one password, then the client’s or customer’s information is not protected, and you increase the risk of a potential cyber breach.

As legal professionals and technology professionals, we’re trying to advise people on that. But it’s also super critical for the attorneys who are listening that you’re not immune to this at all, right? You need to be taking care of this stuff as well. And I’m sure it’s true in a lot of jurisdictions, but it’s very specifically true in Washington that the ethics rules have been modified in recent years to require you as an attorney to understand your technology. You can’t go, “Gosh, I don’t know anything more fancy than a fax machine,” and wave your hands at it and say, “I’m an attorney. I don’t do that.” It’s not an option anymore. So I’m sure it’s true in other industries, but it’s definitely true in the law. This isn’t an option. 

Got it.Yes. 

So maybe bringing that around to the customer, right? Someone might be listening, you can rest assured, but for the most part, when you reach out and work with an attorney, assuming they’re following their ethics rules, they’re going to be under a higher level of scrutiny in terms of their diligence and effort to maintain that technology, maintain the data at a higher level than if you go to, let’s say, a non-law firm. In many cases, I believe LegalZoom still operates not like a law firm or maybe some of these other efforts.

You’ve got a really good point, and I’m jumping in and interrupting you, but any of these online resources that you look at, there’s value there. There’s quality information. There’s nothing really wrong with them. But please scroll to the bottom of the web page, click on the policy link, and read the part where it says there’s no legal advice. I don’t care what they call the website. Scroll to the bottom, click on that. They are not providing legal advice. So if you need legal advice, and you do, please find an attorney that will work for you and get what you can out of those other websites. I’m not saying not to do that, but I’m saying recognize that they explicitly say they are not providing legal advice. 

Yes, love it. All that information may not be pertinent to your particular issues. It’s important to have an attorney

It is.

About the Author
J.D. Houvener is a Registered USPTO Patent Attorney who has a strong interest in helping entrepreneurs and businesses thrive. J.D. leverages his technical background in engineering and experience in the aerospace industry to provide businesses with a unique perspective on their patent needs. He works with clients who are serious about investing in their intellectual assets and provides counsel on how to capitalize their patents in the market. If you have any questions regarding this article or patents in general, consider contacting J.D. at