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Exclusive: KWM blasted for snatching IP rights at law "hackathon"
03 March 2017
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King & Wood Mallesons has been criticised by a rival firm's COO for seeking to grab rights to students' tech ideas to help the firm.

KWM is holding a hackathon this month with the University of Technology, Sydney. A hackathon may sound like a Julian Assange sponsored sleepover, but it is actually a competition where the firm's lawyers team-up with computer students to come up with tech ideas. For KWM lawyers it's a chance to pretend they work for a start-up, eat vegan burgers and wear a wooden bow-tie to work, whilst brainstorming an idea for a funky app or natty portal. And then it's back to the office to pore over a facility agreement.

  Looks fun, but it's still law

However in the small print to the hackathon event, KWM states that it has the "right, to the exclusion of all others, to acquire ownership of the Intellectual Property Rights in your team’s entry for a non-negotiable fee of AU$1,000". It may be that the firm is in need of some new ideas on how to run a business after the European arm went bust. but Gilbert + Tobin COO, Sam Nickless, reacted with disbelief on Twitter at KWM's cheeky attempt to take ideas from tech students.


Nickless has a declared interest since G+T also runs hackathons. He told RollOnFriday that his firm's events "are about sharing ideas in an open way", and they would never "take some student's IP for a token sum" adding "if you want to own the ideas, you run internal events or you pay people for their time."

A KWM spokeswoman told RollOnFriday that the firm was "surprised by G+Ts response". She said that KWM "does not automatically acquire ownership of the intellectual property rights" but has "a limited period of 120 days" from the end of the event to purchase them. So just a four month period to take away a student's tech gold idea then.


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anonymous user
03/03/2017 13:07
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That is outrageous. Clearly not a firm with any genuine interest in start-up tech - just exploitation and profiteering in the guise of BD.
anonymous user
04/03/2017 08:03
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only a law firm could butcher a hackathon so badly
anonymous user
07/03/2017 11:57
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oh the wonders of unofficial spokespeople ruining reps - mb their own with clients ?

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