What Constitutes Your Intellectual Property and What Are You Doing to Protect It?

What constitutes Intellectual Property? This is a question that many can answer, but few can describe the scope, hence when managers are told that their Intellectual Property or IP may be slipping through their fingers to their competitors, they frown at such suggestion initially. For example let us take a look at a Business Analysis document for an IT project that will increase the staff productivity of the accounts receivable department by 40%.

Now it is unlikely that your competitors will come nosing around to see how your accounts receivable department works, because the modus operandi is fairly standard across different organizations. However, an IT system that increases the department’s productivity will have a cascading effect across the business, leading to gains in other departments by the way of increased orders or demand for services. In this case a document like this is classified as a trade secret. A trade secret is an item of non-public information concerning the commercial practices or proprietary knowledge of a business and is considered as part of an organization’s IP.

If the business analysts leaves your organization with this document and goes to work for your competitor, the gains that you have achieved in your organization no longer gives you the competitive edge because sooner or later your competitor is planning to design the same or even a better system to compete in the same market with you. Another example of intellectual property that could give your competitors the edge is on projects that never take off or were shelved for one reason or the other.

Information is becoming a very valuable commodity, and many organizations will pay a lot of money to get their hands on it. So the question is what are you doing to protect your business’ intellectual property? Have you ever done a full assessment of your organization to fully define what constitutes intellectual property in your organization? If you have not it may be time to seek advice with your legal department or advisers to help you define what your Intellectual Property is.

Once you have defined all your intellectual property, the next step is taking the necessary measures to protect that property. This will be defined in the “Use of corporate assets” policy document and/or the “IT Policy Document”. Clearly defined boundaries will increase the awareness of the need to protect the company’s intellectual property. These documents must be reviewed regularly, alongside the corporate document that defines what constitutes intellectual property.

In the last decade outsourcing has grown exponentially to help businesses become more efficient, as well as reduce costs. However, part of the deal means that some of your intellectual property must be passed on to these outsourcing businesses. Does your outsourcing strategy document deal with how your IP is managed?

With mobile devices like laptops and netbooks outselling desktop units, there is the increased risk of higher levels of IP residing on these devices. Corporate strategies need to be put in place to protect your organization’s IP. Taking security of IP is something that should be taken seriously in this information age in order to maintain your competitive edge.

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Unsustainable Energy Efficiency

The word efficiency carries a meaning immersed in all things positive – you never hear that being more efficient could possibly be detrimental. In fact, if you can bear the evangelical fervour, you may have read about achieving ‘Factor Four’ or ‘Factor Five’ gains in energy efficiency, as part of a ‘Natural Capital’ revolution comprising a ‘decoupling’ economic growth from a growth in the consumption of exhaustible resources – aka ‘sustainability’. You may even have heard that I=PAT, where environment impact (I) is a function of population (P), affluence (A) and technology (T), and that becoming more efficient will enable a desired level of affluence will far less environmental cost.

Believe me, this is all nonsense, and indeed counterproductive to the stated aims of curbing resource use and decreasing negative environmental externalities.

When it comes to natural resource use, and the externalities associated with resource extraction and production, efficiency alone is the enabler of greater consumption. William Stanley Jevons first noted that technological improvement, in terms of greater efficiency and therefore productivity, was the enabler of greater coal consumption in Britain back in 1865 in his book, The Coal Question: an Inquiry Concerning the Progress of the Nation, and the Probable Exhaustion of our Coal-mines. His observation was coined Jevon’s Paradox, even though the argument that technological improvements in resource efficiency (modes of economy) leads to greater resource use was already widely accepted in the labour market:

“As a rule, new modes of economy will lead to an increase in consumption according to a principle recognised in many parallel instances. The economy of labor effected by the introduction of new machinery throws labourers out of employment for the moment. But such is the increased demand for the cheapened products, that eventually the sphere of employment is greatly widened.”

150 years later the modern debate is fuelled by economic ignorance, with many of the most influential economists and environmentalists remaining confused – failing to acknowledge the parallel effects of technology on the resource called ‘labour’ and other resource inputs to the economy.

More rigorous economists have reopened the debate, under the new term rebound effects, breaking down the transition mechanisms between greater efficiency and greater resource consumption.

1. Direct rebound effect: Increased fuel efficiency lowers the cost of consumption, and hence increases the consumption of that good because of the substitution effect.
2. Indirect rebound effect: Through the income effect, decreased cost of the good enables increased household consumption of other goods and services, increasing the consumption of the resource embodied in those goods and services.
3. Economy wide effects: New technology creates new production possibilities in and increases economic growth.

Genius and UCLA mathematics professor Terence Tao explains the direct effect like so:

“Suppose one has to decide whether to use one light bulb or two light bulbs to light a room. Ignoring energy costs (and the initial cost of purchasing the bulbs), let’s say that lighting a room with one light bulb will provide $10/month of utility to the room owner, whereas lighting with two light bulbs will provide $15/month of utility. (Like most goods, the utility from lighting tends to obey a law of diminishing returns.)

Let us first suppose that the energy cost of a light bulb is $6/month. Then the net utility per month becomes $4 for one light bulb and $3 for two light bulbs, so the rational choice would be to use one light bulb, for a net energy cost of $6/month.

Now suppose that, thanks to advances in energy efficiency, the energy cost of a light bulb drops to $4/month. Then the net utility becomes $6/month for one light bulb and $7/month for two light bulbs; so it is now rational to switch to two light bulbs. But by doing so, the net energy cost jumps up to $8/month.

So is a gain in energy efficiency good for the environment in this case? It depends on how one measures it. In the first scenario, there was less energy used (the equivalent of $6/month), but also there was less net utility obtained ($4/month in this case). In the second scenario, more energy was used ($8/month). but more net utility was obtained as a consequence ($7/month). As a consequence of energy efficiency gains, the energy cost per capita increased (from $6/month to $8/month); but the energy cost per unit of utility decreased (from 6/4 = 1.5 to 8/7 ~ 1.14).”

The indirect effect is more subtle and it is the environmental cost of consumption of other goods due to costs saved on, for example, lighting. If, in the above example, lighting costs were reduced to $20 per bulb for the room, it would be rational to spend $4 on lighting (using two bulbs) and spend the $2 saved on lighting to consume other goods which themselves have energy use embodied in their production.

Finally, the economy wide effect occurs due to stimulated demand for other goods and efficiency gains being shared across other sectors (due to the principle of the indivisibility of economic productivity – Google it).

These economy wide effects have gained recent attention in The Economist where it is estimated that energy efficient lighting will contribute to greater energy use in the long run. You will note from the comments the cognitive dissonance of economists when referring to labour and other resource inputs remains.

Conservation, using less at a given level of technology by giving up some utility, is equally ineffective. We still face the indirect effects from conservation as we spend elsewhere in the economy, and if your believe all consumption is has equal environmental cost per dollar (due to indivisibility once more and conceptually boundary problems to traditional input-output analysis of embodied resources – maybe more on this another time) you are back to where you started.

Further, conservation, like waste, is a relative concept, and by definition we can’t all do it. And we wouldn’t do it either due to the tragedy of the commons problem, where it is in each person’s best interest to defect from a cooperative conservation strategy. Terence Tao once again explains:

“However, if there are enough private citizens sharing the same resource, then the “tragedy of the commons” effect kicks in. Suppose for instance that there are 100 citizens sharing the same energy resource, which is worth $1200 x 100 = $120,000 units of energy. If all the citizens conserve, then the resource lasts for $120,000/$400 = 300 months and everyone obtains $1800 long-term utility. But then if one of the citizens “defects” by using two light bulbs, driving up the net monthly energy cost from $400 to $404, then the resource now only lasts for $120,000/$404 ~ 297 months; the defecting citizen now gains ~ $7 x 297 = $2079 utility, while the remaining conserving citizens’ utility drops from $1800 to $6 x 297 = $1782. Thus we see that it is in each citizen’s long-term interest (and not merely short-term interest) to defect; and indeed if one continues this process one can see that one ends up in the situation in which all citizens defect. Thus we see that the tragedy of the commons effectively replaces long-term incentives with short-term ones, and the effects of voluntary conservation are not equivalent to the compulsory effects caused by government policy.”

If energy efficiency is a counterproductive action for our environment, and personal conservation is useless, what should be done? As renowned ecological economist Blake Alcott points out.

If Jevons is right, efficiency policies are counter-productive, and business-as-usual efficiency gains must be compensated for with physical caps like quotas or rationing.

It really is that easy. If you a concerned about greenhouse gases, a cap on greenhouse gases is what is required. If you are worried deforestation, you create a cap by ‘fencing off’ areas that are not be touched. If you are worried about over fishing, you create a cap. Whether these caps/quotas are tradeable is a secondary concern, but do enable the cap to be met most efficiently.

What about a tax instead?

Many commentators argue that taxing negative externalities (such as a carbon tax) would not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but would provide a ‘double dividend’ of improved economic efficiency because more distortionary taxes could be reduced. However, the very nature of reducing other taxes to make the tax revenue neutral would mean that other sectors of the economy where taxes were reduced now have greater purchasing power to pay for those goods now bearing the new tax burden. Thus the double dividend comes at a cost to the primary dividend of reducing externalities.

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Mature Travelers – Is Mother Nature’s Fall Spectacular in Your Travel Plans?

Fall is a great time to travel when the summer rush is over. There are so many great ways to do the fall leaf peep, one is sure to fit into your budget and lifestyle. If you have promised yourself to take a changing of the foliage tour as one of the top 100 things on your retirement travel plans, it’s not too late to get started. Of course, this may be a regular pilgrimage but you may want to do something different this time around.

Mature travelers are playing it smart these days. They are traveling in groups, and you can travel with people with common interests or people with diverse interests.

You may travel with a group of scrap bookers and collect leaves to commemorate your trip in a scrapbook.

Some may collect photographs and share them on line with children and grandchildren.

Others may film a falling leaf and share your changing of the foliage trip on YouTube.

You could celebrate a birthday, an anniversary, a renewal of marriage vows on this colorful trip and bring family along to share this milestone.

You could even pick a spot for a wedding or engagement–there are many beautiful spots for “second-time-around” ceremonies.

Your fellow travelers can be church members you’ve gathered up for a fun motor coach ride through the Northeast. You can take one of the many New England cruises with accommodations equal to those on the high seas and invite your sorority sisters and/or fraternity brothers. This could be a great time to get together with people you’ve met online but never face-to-face.

There are fall foliage tours in several parts of the United States as well as Canada. This gives you a wide choice of places to go. It allows you to take a tour near your home or travel a little further and see someplace you’ve never been before.

You can go for it like the characters in the move “The Bucket List” and enjoy travel plans with a theme. Do it now!

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Improve Your Poor Credit Score and Secure Yourself a Loan

So you are thinking of getting some extra money to make some urgent home repairs, the porch door needs replacing, along with a new hot water system. Unfortunately you do not have the money in the bank, but neither do you have a secure porch door or any constant hot water.

Have you considered personal loans? A lot of people take out personal loans for this type of repair. Car repairs and even holidays are used by people with their newly acquired finances. Most people have heard that a poor credit score is not a good thing (However even those that have a poor financial history can still get loans). But how do you make a good rating?

One of thing major pieces of advice from experts, before you apply for finance it is best to get a credit report completed from a reputable source. This will give you an idea of the chance of getting your application approved. In the United States of America there are three levels of credit rating, basically the higher it is the better it is.

An excellent rating is above 760, a good rating would be between 700 and 759 and a poor rating would be between 640 to 699. if you are at the top end, 760 and above then there is no point in making your rating any better. However with other ratings it is worth trying to improve as it will help your chances of succeeding in the application.

There does seem to be a bit of a chicken and egg situation sometimes, you need finance but have a poor score,but to improve you need a lender to give you a chance. Well, luckily there are things that you and your family if you have one, can do to improve your rating.

Having a poor rating does not mean you have to be stuck with it, starting to pay the bills on time instead of late or not at all will start to get you on the right path. Some lenders will still give applicants loans even with a low score, but the total given will be lower than usually and the percentage rate will be considerably higher. So you will pay more over the period of the finance.

Families can help too. If a member of your family has a good rating then some credit card companies can add you to that family members credit card as an authorized user, this will help with any poor credit score. Also having a family member with a good rating co-sign the loan could help you get what you need.

Finding the correct lender for your score is a good way to make sure that you are getting what you deserve, if you have a high score you deserve some of the best deals on the market. Instead of going to your bank or card company you can go online and search for a matching company. Companies like this are a good place go to make sure you achieve the best deal.

What are a matching company and what do they do? You enter your details on their online program and your information will be fed to several of their approved lenders, in turn the lenders will then return to the matching company with a list of loans that they are able to offer.

Once the offers come back it is then up to the applicant to choose one and complete all the necessary paperwork. A check will then be received within a matter of days and your new boiler and door fitted soon after.

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Payment Options for Shopping All the Way

Everyone is busy. Busy in shopping online and in the malls. Popular online portals are breaking and making new sale records! All thanks to the convenience and the availability of easy payment options and funds!

Here are few of the factors that are making online businesses a success

Credit Cards: A credit card is plastic money. It is one of the easiest form in which a person gets a personal loan.

All online portals as well as retailers in malls accept credit cards issued by various banks.
Online payment becomes very simple and safe, thanks to the one time passwords generated for such transactions.
A PIN is sufficient for shopping using a credit card at any retail store.

Personal loans for shopping: When we apply for a personal loan, we don’t have to provide the financier with the details of what we want the loan for.

Thus these days’ personal loans are being used to finance shopping.
They can also be used as wedding loans, vacation loans and educational loans.

Payment Processing: As far as payment processing is concerned, the following factors matter to both the consumer and the online retailer.

Uncomplicated manoeuvring on website: It is important for the payment process to be step-by-step and easy to understand. Most websites work on this section very carefully and thus the online shopping experience is satisfactory.

Processing Costs: Processing costs matter to the retailers. More the processing fees they have to pay to providers of payment gateways like Visa, the lesser are their margins. So to have an effective business the processing costs need to be low.
Number of payment options: Multiple payment options should be available for the customer to make payment. This makes the shopping a convenient proposition.
Time taken to process transactions: Processing time not only tests your patience but sometimes also the strength of your internet connection!

Cash on Delivery: This is also known as “collection on delivery.” This is a very popular mode of making payments for shopping in the developing world.

It enhances impulse purchases.
A credit card is not an essential possession for the buyer.
The buyer can check the quality of the product and then pay

So this festive season, do not hesitate to shop and to gift! The availability of funds for shopping is not difficult anymore. Also the convenience of online shopping has brought various retailers to our doorstep. So let us shop all the way!

An easy way of shopping is using a credit card. It forms an integral part of most people’s financial planning. When used in the right manner, it helps reduce financial liability and optimizes financial resources.

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Are Online Personal Loans Good For People With Bad Credit?

While the rise of online lending in itself makes it more convenient for people to apply for finance, is this development a good thing for those who are already struggling? There are companies out there who charge expensive annual percentage rates (APRs), leaving many people in more trouble than when they first started.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Over the last few years, online lending has earned itself a bad reputation. The internet leaves many people vulnerable to fraud, so you should always exercise caution when inputting your financial details. The best way to make sure your information remains safe is to find a secure, reliable lending platform.

There is an unfair irony attached to lending today. Those with bad credit are often led to believe they have no financial options if they have made mistakes in the past, often making their situations seem more desperate than they actually are. This can result in people making bad decisions and can lead to borrowing through unstable sources.

Meanwhile, any lenders that do accept you with bad credit will charge extortionate interest rates because of your history, making it more difficult for you to meet your monthly repayment obligations – thus worsening your situation. This is a trap that many people fall into, and it gives online installment lenders a bad name.

However, this doesn’t need to be the case. If you can find yourself a reliable lending platform, you will be connected to a secure network of trustworthy lenders who can offer sensible solutions to your borrowing needs. Many of these lenders will assess your application, even if your credit file isn’t perfect or your income is lower than average.

Instead of (or in some cases, as well as) running credit checks, these lenders will take other factors into consideration, including your income and employment circumstances, and how long you have lived at your current address. They may even ask for references they can contact who will vouch for your character personally.

Even those who receive benefits as a form of income will be able to apply, giving everyone a fair and carefully considered chance of borrowing money. In these cases, applicants won’t be accepted for higher loans than they can afford to pay back, and interest rates will be low, meaning there is a better chance of managing repayments.

If you have poor credit and need to borrow money, consider a personal installment loan, but make sure the APR is advertised between 5.99% and 35.99%. There should also be a number of options in terms of flexible repayment, offering you the chance to pay the money back anywhere between six months and six years, depending on what you can afford to pay per month.

Small, carefully considered personal loans could actually help you build a financial profile making you eligible for better future borrowing. As long as the lender is responsible, and offers reasonable interest rates, online lending platforms can actually give people with more opportunities than many other lenders in terms of improving their situation.

With this in mind, personal loans can be beneficial to those hoping to improve their credit score, but only if some caution is exercised by both parties, and you only apply to borrow an amount you can afford to pay back.

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Five Reasons for Refusal of a Personal Loan

Don’t you wish personal finance were a mandatory course in college? Unfortunately, too many of us learn by mistake. When you need a personal loan and are rejected, you might be baffled as to what went wrong- and how to fix it. Here are some clues.

NO CREDIT

No credit is a situation where you have never used credit and therefore have no credit history for the bank to review. They have no way of making an educated decision on whether or not you will pay back a personal loan based on your credit history. No credit is worse than bad credit. Qualifying for and making regular payments on these types of introductory forms of credit can overcome a “no credit” score:

· Student Loans

· Secured credit card (includes a down payment amount)

· Being added to a parent’s or spouses good credit: card, car loan, etc.

LOW CREDIT

Low credit takes on several forms. If you’re using more than 30% of your allowable debt, it can negatively impact your score. Too many inquiries from shopping around for loans will also hit you hard. Lapses in payment, defaults, or bankruptcies are giant red flags and can take a long time to rebuild from.

Other things that lenders may look at are whether or not you have sizeable assets should you default on the loan. They also check to see if your debts are diversified or if you are only carrying one type of debt.

INCOME

Proof of income is generally required when applying for a personal loan. If you are unemployed or underemployed, it can work against you in the loan approval process. Lenders may also require a work history to see how long you have been with your current employer, and to determine if you typically have job stability. Frequent job loss or change will tell a creditor that your payments may not be reliable.

PURPOSE OF THE LOAN

Believe it or not, your application can be rejected due to your proposed purpose for the loan. Financial institutions have the right to set up the parameters surrounding their disbursements and can accept or reject your application based on what you want to use the money for.

BLACKLISTING

If you’ve defaulted on debt before, your name may be put on a list of whom not to loan to,’ also known as a “Blacklist.” This will follow you around for a long time and is difficult to erase. If you do resolve the debt issues, get documents to prove the resolution.

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How Can A Personal Loan Improve Your Credit Score?

When it comes to a personal loan, you have to first learn to use it responsibly. Because if you miss a repayment, your credit score will be impacted adversely. And remember, that a credit score is an indicator of how well you manage your personal finances. Also, it plays a defining role when you apply for any kind of loan – secured and unsecured. It is suggested to apply for a loan slightly larger than what is needed so that you will be assured to have enough money to pay all bills necessary and still have some money left over to ensure that your bank account stays current.

A credit score can be defined as a number which reflects the financial situation of a person. If the person is well-off when it comes to financial matters, then he or she is said to have a high credit score. On the other hand, if a person is the exact opposite of this, then they possess a low credit score. There are a lot of factors that are considered by financial institutions for the purpose of evaluating a person’s credit score – usually, the credit scores of people vary from 300 to about 850.

A personal loan is a type of loan that is given by digital lenders, banks and credit unions to aid you in your plans, be it starting a small business, or making a big purchase. Personal loans tend to have an interest rate(s) lower than the credit cards; however, they can also be put to use for combining several credit card debts together into one monthly lower-cost payment.

Now, your credit score is built by keeping in mind various parameters from your credit reports. These reports serve the purpose of trailing your history of utilization of the credit across the duration of seven years. These credit reports are comprised of information, including how much credit you have utilized to date, the type of credit in your possession, the age of one’s credit accounts, whether one has put in for bankruptcy or liens filed against them, actions of debt collections taken against them, one’s total open lines of credit as well as recent inquiries for hard credit.

Like any other type of credit, personal loans are very capable of affecting your credit score. This can be done through the process of applying and withdrawing a personal loan. If you are curious as to how personal loans can end up affecting your credit, then read on to find out more about the context. There are many ways in which your credit can be affected by personal loans and some of them are listed below:

The ratio of your debt-to-income and loan

Debt-to-income ratio is considered to be the measure of your amount of income that you spend on the debt repayments. In the case of lenders, the amount of income that you receive is said to be one of the major factors proving that you are able to repay your loan.

Some of the lenders have come up with their own debt-to-income ratio so that their proprietary credit scores may make use of it in the form of a credit consideration. Do not fall into the kind of mindset that possessing a high amount of a loan would hurt your credit. The most damage it can do is raise the ratio of your debt-to-income so that you won’t be able to apply for loans anymore without it getting rejected or denied.

Paying loans on time will make credit scores soar

The moment your loan is approved, you have to make sure that you settle the payments of each month on time and in full. Delay in repayment may significantly impact the state of your credit score. However, on the other hand, if you make the payments on time every month, then your credit score will soar high, leading to an overall good score. This will not only make your name to the preferred borrower’s list, but it will prove to be beneficial for you in the long run.

Since your payment history is comprised of almost 35% of your credit score, paying loans on time is essential in cases like these so that your credit score can maintain a positive status.

Variety is built into your credit type

There are about five factors that are responsible for determining your credit score. These are composed of the payment history, the length of the credit history, the utilization ratio of the credit, the credit mix and new inquiries of the credit in accordance with FICO®.

The credit mix only accounts for about 35% of your total credit score, whereas when it comes to a personal loan you can have a varying mix of the credit types. This mix of all types of credit is viewed at a high level of approval by the creditors and lenders.

Origination fee charged by loans

Most of the lenders end up charging you an origination fee. This fee cannot be avoided at any cost and is instantly taken off from the amount of the loan payment. The amount of origination fees depends upon the amount of the loan you are about to borrow. Late payments can lead to an overdraft of fees and late expenses. Therefore, make sure that you pay complete repayment for each month before the deadline.

Avoiding penalties when it comes to payments

Some of the credit lenders tend to charge an additional fee if you end up paying your part of the loan earlier than the agreed date. This is because they are looking for moderate amounts of interest on your loan. Now, seeing that you have paid off your part of the loan before time, they will miss out on that interest that they could have possibly made if you had not cleared the debt soon enough before the deadline.

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