2 ways legal tech can make you Lean

Jennifer Randles | October 23, 2022 | Articles

Manufacturing today is a bit like trick or treating. Tricks such as supply chain interruptions and rapidly changing regulations in today’s dynamic business environment are keeping everyone on edge—like getting a toothbrush instead of a full sized candy bar in your pillow case.

Manufacturing is very familiar with adapting and moving into better processes. Lean Management and moving to Industry 4.0 are huge industry disruptors that have happened over the past few years. Manufacturing companies with ghostly, manual processes are being left in the past.

But while the change is much needed, there is also associated risk that comes with it. Legal departments are in a position where they need to adapt and evolve as the company moves toward Industry 4.0, while also ensuring the company is protected when updating their processes. Let’s take a look at the common issues legal departments in manufacturing face while transitioning to the next step. We’ll explore a few extreme cases and point out areas where legal tech could have streamlined work. We love a good spook, but not like this!

1. Communication is key

Communication is one of the most valuable skills anyone can have. It keeps everyone on the same page. For legal, it gives both external and internal stakeholders visibility into the work that’s being done. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case for Rasta Imposta v. Kangaroo Manufacturing.

In 2017, Rasta Imposta sued Kangaroo Manufacturing for copyright infringement of their banana costumes. Yes, you heard that right. This case was litigated and went through appeal. The Frankenstein-ish nuts and bolts of this case comes down to these points.

  1. Rasta and Yagoozon had a positive relationship for 6 years. But lack of communication blew up when Kangaroo (founded by Yagoozon) made their own version of the costume.
  2. The legal fight lasted over 2 years. It cost both companies a lot of time and money.

Everything became a bananafest. In a case like this, everyone loses. Both companies lost time and money when Yagoozon failed to notify Rasta, and therefore was in copyright breach. The breakdown of communication here resulted in a broken relationship and lost revenue. Kangaroo also took a hit to their reputation after they lost their case.

If they had a standardized process to communicate, this case might have been avoidable. Successful communication goes hand in hand with successful collaboration – everyone is on the same page. Legal can be viewed as a bottleneck where things slow down. 41% of enterprise employees noted that legal’s transparency decreased after shifting to hybrid and remote work models. If you withhold information or can’t easily give other business units clear access to relevant legal data, it’s difficult to achieve success together.

Maybe, just maybe, had the two companies had a more open communication process, the relationship could have remained profitable and beneficial for both parties. The thousands of costumes sold by Kangaroo would still be on shelves today, with Rasta also receiving a profit from it, as they had with Yagoozon, without all the lost revenue associated with litigation.

2. Data transparency keeps all stakeholders aligned

Legal departments often need to refer back to previous cases. If all your data is spread out across multiple systems or buried in complex spreadsheets, you’ll have a hard time making your case.

Lack of visibility played a huge role in Don Post Studios v. Cinema Secrets (2000). We all have seen the hockey mask made famous by the classic 1978 horror movie, “Halloween” worn by the killer Michael Myers. Did you know the mold for the mask is of William Shatner’s head? Film representatives asked Don Post, Effects Artist to create the mask by modifying a mask of Captain Kirk from “Star Trek”, originally taken from Shatner’s head.

After the success of the movie, Don Post Studios began selling the “Don Post Mask,” a nearly identical one to the Shatner mold. But in 1999, Cinema Secrets, a beauty line manufacturer, licensed the right to sell a Michael Myers Halloween mask from the film’s copyright holder. Don Post Studios sued, asserting that the Cinema Secrets mask was a copy of its mask.

This was a mistake for Don Post Studios. They actually didn’t have a valid copyright—and a mold of Shatner’s head didn’t have enough “originality” to qualify for copyright protection. Although many, many Trekkies out there would beg to differ.

If Don Post had the proper legal copyright from the start, this could have been a win for his manufacturing operations and maybe even a new partnership deal with Cinema Secrets. This case had many points where it could have been stopped if the matter was handled correctly before going all the way to court and taking up a lot of company resources. Odds are, a centralized platform where all the data pertaining to the matter could easily be viewed, would have helped immensely.

How legal automation accelerates Industry 4.0

These cases are extreme examples of what a manufacturer can face. Best practices for manufacturers include leveraging technology to give visibility into the work all departments are doing within the organization. Legal should be the same. Automation can help your legal operations achieve the goals of Industry 4.0, expanding your ability to share predictive analytics for data-driven decisions and matching the pace of your organization’s growth in the industry.

The legal risks within the manufacturing industry are immense. To keep track of everything regarding a legal matter, automation can save not only time and money, but your sanity.

Here are some things for manufacturers to think about when it comes to Lean in their legal automation. For example, the cost of an employee lawsuit may be around $200,000, but we have all heard of judgments in the millions for manufacturers caught in litigation. The matters manufacturing attorneys handle are diverse, and are usually time consuming and expensive. Tracking where and how these funds are spent is not only important to individual cases, but to the entire organization. Is your data accessible? Is it easy to find out where the time is spent? It can be.

In a world where work is increasingly digitized, a legal technology solution can help with all types of matters. Data can be tracked, shared, searched, and saved easily. You can even customize the levels of accessibility and keep what needs to be limited to a small group confidential.

Manufacturing: SMART and Lean legal software solutions help counsel produce better results, meeting the expectations of Industry 4.0

In today’s dynamic and continually changing business environment, manufacturing legal operations need to be able to keep up.

Intuitive software solutions make your data easily accessible to departments across your organization and the boardroom. This transparency makes it possible to drive competitive strategic decisions as your organization works to achieve Industry 4.0 .

SimpleLegal makes it easy to automate and streamline legal tasks so you can focus on growing your business. It’s easy to use, works as hard as you do, and helps you get more done in less time. We help you make your manufacturing operations more resilient and successful, while embracing the opportunities ahead. Let us help you make your legal operations glow!

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