Perhaps you’ve never used a lawyer, or your only experience with one was in trying times: death, divorce or dog-bite. If you’re just getting your business underway, it’s a good time to think about how a lawyer might be able to help you succeed.
First off, remember that most lawyers are themselves small business owners — we know many of the challenges you face, and have had to figure out ways of dealing with them that work in practice, not just in principle. In addition, lawyers who focus on advising small businesses … see a lot of small businesses. We see what works and what doesn’t, and notice common features among disparate enterprises. That makes us a repository for knowledge that is applicable across business types, and that can be valuable to you. You can learn about your business from your competitors, but you can learn about Business from your lawyer.
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) isn’t exactly new (it was created by Congress in 1996), but it was revised in January of this year to extend its reach well beyond the healthcare industry. Specifically, the HIPAA regulations that set standards for the storage, transmission and privacy of personal medical data now apply to the “business associates” of “covered entities”. This extension of HIPAA’s privacy and security rules is frequently referred to as “HITECH,” an acronym for the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act. The primary goal of HITECH legislation was to encourage and fund the general use of Electronic Health Records (EHR) by the healthcare industry, but it also expanded and elevated the compliance obligations of “Business Associates” under HIPAA to a level equal with that of Covered Entities.
Some useful HIPAA/HITECH terms to be familiar with:
Jim Williams, Inventor of U.S. 8,539,651
Jim Williams got his second patent recently, and it was a delight working on his case. The USPTO gives examination priority to inventors over 65, so we were able to file, prosecute and obtain his patent in just under nine months. That’s the fastest turnaround I’ve seen on an otherwise normal case — we didn’t pay extra fees or participate in any other accelerated-prosecution program. We survived a proper rejection and ended up with claims that Jim should be able to license profitably. This was a great result all around.