Making Technology Law Simple

About Us

Hi, my name is Michael Lightfoot and Internet Law Services is my law firm. We are business, technology lawyers.

We work with technology business owners searching for ways to protect the underlying intellectual property of their business
Want to get their technology to market, generating revenues, faster…

Our clients are inventors, developers, investors, consultants, management and other technology professionals.

We leverage a network of professionals to assist with client projects and initiatives. If the project is expansive and requires resources, we have them available. If the project requires a solution better provided elsewhere, we will tell you and refer you. We only take on work where we know we can add significant value.

But Who Are We Really?

We really enjoy technology. We enjoy the fast-paced, constant changing environment the technology industry provides and the new opportunities for businesses and law.

In our 20+ years of law practice, we have never been bored, as the technology has changed from machines the size of office buildings, to powerful devices we today carry around and call “smartphones”.

We enjoy creating law to meet the demands of the emerging technology marketplaces.

There are constantly new cases arising in the state courts and in the Federal courts at an almost exponential pace, trying to keep up with the new technologies like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, operating systems from Google, Apple, Microsoft, and manufacturers like Motorola, and Samsung to name just a few.

We are on the “bleeding edge” of security threats to our clients, and are working with our staff to develop “tools” to fight the ever-growing security issues that are paramount to doing business in cyberspace.

We enjoy listening to inventors and developers discussing their ideas for new technologies and new businesses. We enjoy helping our clients avoid technology theft and make money.

We recognize the “realistic marketplace” realities (viruses, hackers, crackers, network intercepts) and the vulnerabilities of diverse networks (the weakest link).

We also recognize that a company like Napster raised public funding for an idea that most in the intellectual property law community saw as illegal from the beginning.

But from those beginnings has now emerged a vibrant online audio market (Pandora, Slacker, Apple Live Streaming, etc.), and has changed the face of the video market as well. So too were the lessons of downloading learned by movie services (Pirate Bay, NetFlix, Amazon, etc.), creating two cultures, one demanding protection of their intellectual property created in a movie, and the other attempting to get that intellectual property for free.

We recognize that the law is slow to react to new technology issues, creating opportunities and challenges for our clients.

We are educated in real world technologies (we see new technology and business models every day) and we have extensive experience with both big and small client technology issues. Lawyer for lawyer we have more experience in business, technology law than virtually any other attorney in a firm anywhere in the world.

We understand the “jargon” of the technology industry and you don’t have to sit for an hour attempting to teach us the difference between source code and Morris code (as you have to do with “associates” at many high-priced firms). We are fast learners.

We love exciting people, innovators, inventors and business executives trying to grow a business from startup to real revenues, to expansive growth.

We help our clients take ideas from simple thoughts to products, to market, to success, to sales revenues!

We work as your business attorney and enjoy creating corporate structures for protection of stock and royalty preservation.

We enjoy relationships with our clients.

We understand our client’s business (sometimes even own stock or royalties in the business) and enjoy the challenges of new technology businesses.

We are more AGGRESSIVE than most attorneys you will find, as we recognize from our experience that the Internet is the “Wild West” and you need a “hired gun” to fight for you and your company.

Michael Lightfoot is President of Internet Law Services, and is in his 10th year of owning his own business. He brings his clients over twenty years of diversified business, technology, and law experience.

We are trusted and honest, which is critical in the Internet world. We have a verifiable law license and stellar references from Fortune 500 companies to startups throughout the US.

We are on the Board of Governors of the Northwest Suburban Bar Association (NWSBA) and Chairman of the Web/IT Committee for the Bar Association (www.NWSBA.org). We are also a member of the Illinois State Bar Association.

Mr. Lightfoot was on the Committee that created the legal self-help center (LSHC) for indigent citizens in the 3rd District of Cook County Circuit Court.

We pride ourselves on providing out-of-the-box thinking, creating unique models for technology.

How Did We Get Started?

Although today, the firm consists of several members, the founder, Michael Lightfoot, began tinkering with software at a very early age. He enjoyed the business aspects of technology (i.e. software, satellites, networks, security, etc.). Mr. Lightfoot recognized the business value of technology and as a businessman, recognized that law would be a big part of the coming technology trend.

Mr. Lightfoot graduated from Northern Illinois College of Law, and is a former Assistant State Attorney in Illinois (second largest County in Illinois) and handled both criminal (misdemeanors and white collar crime) and civil matters for the office. Mr. Lightfoot was Chief of the Records Division when he left to join the private business sector.

Because Mr. Lightfoot understood business, law and technology, he was valuable to business executives needing to understand the legal implications arising from the convergence of business and technology.

Mr. Lightfoot worked as an attorney for Allstate Insurance Company in data security, MIS and Systems.

Mr. Lightfoot worked for First National Bank of Chicago, negotiating and implementing US and international technology contracts for such devices as the cash station, commodities trading floor, and telephony/network systems.

Mr. Lightfoot was the attorney for Motorola Research and Development for 11 years, taking the dynamic technology products created by Motorola’s research labs and implemented them into Motorola divisions worldwide, or licensing the technology to universities or third-party licensees.

Mr. Lightfoot negotiated and acquired over $1 billion in third-party technologies for Motorola operations worldwide. Mr. Lightfoot also worked closely with the Motorola New Enterprises Group and Strategy Group creating new and unique companies inside and outside of Motorola.

Mr. Lightfoot has been in private practice for the last 10 years, with offices in suburban Chicago.

Give Michael Lightfoot a call today at 847-934-0604 or e-mail him (Contact Page) to discuss your opportunity or challenge.

Our Approach

Our clients generally have an issue that they would like to talk about. Or they just want someone to talk too related to their challenge or opportunity.

Before getting started, we usually have an initial discussion with the prospective client at no charge. During this discussion, we determine if there would be any conflict representing the client and if we would be able to assist in answering your questions and solving your problems

We sit down with the client and we listen. We are excited by technology and we are quick learners that work to understand your technology, the stage of development of the technology, and the goals of the business owners.

We provide counsel on various models (business and technical) that may apply, to analyze and solve your challenge, or take advantage of the opportunity.

Many of our clients stay for years. We get to know our client’s businesses deeply, as well as understand their company’s (and personal) goals and objectives.

We become a trusted advisor to the business. One with experience, knowledge and having no personal agenda in the company, we can provide unbiased advice.

Our clients generally come from the United States, Canada, EU and India.

They are looking for someone to talk to. They have a question or challenge related to their technology business. We work with clients worldwide by phone, email, video conference, SMS and other communications modes (no joking about smoke signals from Lightfoot – lol :-).

Once we have determined together (both the client and our firm) that we will represent the client, then we identify with the client the scope and goals for the matter. We send an Engagement Letter and the client signs it and sends it back (with an agreed retainer) and we then begin the work.

We also will give an estimate of the cost to the client. Sometimes, such as with litigation, estimated costs are very difficult to determine, but most projects can be broken down into a “document”, or “license agreement” or other type of deliverable and we can set a cost for those deliverables.

Protecting your ideas and generating revenue are not optional. Protecting your ideas is critical to generating your revenue stream and keeping competitors from taking your ideas and creating their own products.

Laws and regulations seem to materialize almost as quickly as the technology.

New technologies present new opportunities and risks. Understanding intellectual property issues in technology patents, ownership rights, confidentiality and non-compete agreements is paramount to avoiding disaster in a proprietary rights dispute that could cost your company millions in royalty costs or damages.

It is this rapidly changing legal climate that we have chosen as our profession. We have chosen to operate in this arena because we want to support entrepreneurs (and people that help grow those companies) to safely develop products, market products and enjoy the fruits of their labor.

What is it Like to Work with Us?

When you work with us, you can expect to legally protect your intellectual property (knowledge, ideas, source code, etc.), and safely accelerate getting your product to market and generating revenue.

We will assist you to identify your intellectual property (IP). We will work to understand the current status of your rights in that intellectual property and provide protection strategies for securing that intellectual property and the revenues derived from that IP.

We will consult with the founders, investors, management and technologists to clarify corporate ownership of the IP. We will also assist to structure the company from initial organizational work through implementation of an exit strategy, such as sale of the company, initial public offering, or merger.

We assist clients with employee issues, license review, business models, pricing strategies, contracts review, privacy policies and security issues, to name a few of our offerings.

We provide a legal, technology and business framework. We use this framework for “preparing” business planning documents, venture funding and business model development for the business(s).

Sometimes there will be disagreements between investors and management, or between management and technologists. These disputes can become quite damaging to a business very quickly. We work with senior management and the Board to clearly and regularly work with all levels of management, technologists and staff to identify and handle issues as they arise, rather than after they explode.

Periodically, a client will need to litigate to defend or protect itself. Litigation arises from intellectual property issues, employee issues, investor issues, or any one of a myriad of other issues a company could be facing through its normal operations. We work with the client to develop a litigation strategy, prepare for litigation (and particularly E-Discovery Rule 34 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure) and either litigate the case ourselves, or work with trial counsel in the local jurisdiction to negotiate a settlement or handle jury trial activities.

Working together we are able to identify, protect and leverage the ideas, knowledge and intellectual property created by your company. One aspect of our service is the identification of the intellectual property that we will be protecting and what is the best way to protect that idea, knowledge and/or process.

We review the ownership of the company’s technology (IP), especially when it’s software, to be sure that if consultants or programmers were used to design or program the software, that all of the “releases” necessary to allow the company to license the technology to their customers, are in legal order.

We make sure that the company ownership is clear and the stock, financial, business, marketing, and sales activities are properly secured.

We work with the company as they hire consultants (sometimes anywhere in the world) developers or programmers and make sure that the Professional Services Agreements are properly drafted and enforceable, understanding the realities of state court vs. federal court and the nuances of international business.

We work with the company in hiring employees and being sure that we cover state and federal employment rules that apply to virtually every business.

We work with companies to retain their staff with earn out agreements, employment contracts, employee policies (more important now with Facebook, Twitter, texting, etc.), as well as Stock Option plans.

We assist our clients with the ongoing operations of the business, understanding their business from a long-term relationship perspective, and assist our clients as they grow and prosper.

We understand the technology language and business models and are able to quickly come up to speed on issues and provide timely and relevant options to those challenges.

And alas, as our clients determine it is time to merge their business with another company, sell their business, or prepare to go public, we work with the business owners, Board of Directors, management and/or advisors to help formulate the best available options for the exit strategy.

Founding a technology business is challenging, but there are professional resources ready and willing to assist YOU in achieving success.Creating a new technology or software is a lot easier than trying to find an attorney to protect that technology. Finding an attorney who will talk to you, understand what you’re saying in your particular technology area, and not delay, is even more difficult.

You have your challenge in trying to compile code, install your technology, support your users and all the things it takes to run a successful technology company. You feel you don’t have time to “waste” on protecting your technology at this stage of your company’s growth. You know you should, but other activities continue to take priority.

You question whether it’s even worth protecting your technology, because who would want it? Yet you “sell” your technology to customers and your technology provides benefit. That’s why someone would want to steal it!

Then there are the issues of employees, consultants, suppliers, contracts, and all the other non-technology issues that arise when you work to create a company. Whether they be business, technical, financial, legal, marketing or sales they all take work and the company will not survive unless there is someone taking care of each of these major areas.

Working with our firm will allow you to handle all of your business legal matters in one place, with experienced, excited professionals who enjoy technology, understand your issues and are prepared to serve you.

Please use the technology and contact us so we can solve your business legal problem.

The key steps to protecting your intellectual property include: Identification of your intellectual property. This includes the various types of intellectual property you have created (i.e. patentable materials, trade secrets, copyrights, trademarks, etc.)

Next is the application of the proper protection methods best applicable to the intellectual property. This could be filing for a patent on certain products or processes, affixing copyright notices of ownership to your materials, marking documents as “Confidential” or “Trade Secret” or other notices; or obtaining a trademark for marks you may have used with the company for years, but had never bothered to protect.

One key to operating the company and protecting the company from legal issues includes having employee policies and enforcing them!

Another key is addressing issues as they arise rather than letting them boil and then trying to work your way out, months after the original incident occurred.

Your Right to Privacy and Other Constitutional Liberties

As Benjamin Franklin once said:

“Anyone who trades liberty for security deserves neither liberty nor security”

In today’s post-9/11 world, it is clear that there are security risks. These risks emanate from many avenues, including terrorists, corporate espionage, spyware, viruses, and the traditional money, power or sex which drives criminals everywhere.

In the United States, we have certain “inalienable rights”. Those rights are identified in the Constitution and its various Bill of Rights amendments. One of the freedoms we take most for granted in the United States particularly, is our right to privacy.

In the US our right to privacy is fundamentally based upon the notion of the “reasonable expectation of privacy”. As this world changes more rapidly, our basis for the reasonable expectation of privacy is shifting from our homes to our data. When you ship information to the cloud, do you still have a reasonable expectation of privacy? Is adding a password enough to demonstrate that you reasonably have an expectation of privacy?

This right of privacy is being assaulted by governments and politicians. These intrusions include third parties protecting their existing interests such as the record association and the movie industry, and the parties who are trying to put in place laws that will control the Internet. The Internet today is free from censorship (in many countries) and deserves to remain that way.

We respect the rights of intellectual property holders to be compensated for their work. We also recognize it needs to be a fair compensation. We recognize that “fair” is controlled by the marketplace, not by a few stakeholders who believe that they can charge whatever they want and the customer has no right to choose.

We stand firmly behind companies like Google, Microsoft, Cisco Systems and hundreds of other companies who have taken up the mantle of protecting the freedom of the Internet.

We stand firmly behind the right to privacy. We provide protections to our clients from unreasonable intrusions upon their person or data.