Top 5 Takeaways With John Quinn and Sean Pak

April 30, 2024
1 min read

We hosted John Quinn, Founder and Chairman of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP, and Sean Pak, a fellow law firm Partner, for a fireside chat at our Mountain View HQ. Our team had a great time chatting with them about the litigation process and regulations and laws surrounding tech. 

Here are the top five takeaways from that discussion:

1. Pay close attention to the European Union’s regulatory changes surrounding AI.

John Quinn: “The EU-AI Act is something that all US companies are eventually going to have to deal with because we’re not going to have different compliance standards from one continent to another. While I don’t think we’ll be seeing any AI laws or regulations coming out of Washington DC anytime soon, we will see them at the state level. About half of the US states already have some form of AI regulation.”

2. AI regulations will create risk exposure but also a market opportunity.

Sean Pak: “The kinds of solutions customers are looking for in terms of risk mitigation are product opportunities for companies. Rather than resisting the change, become familiar with the regulatory nuances of what’s happening in Europe and at the individual state level. Talk to customers about how they see this risk and productize it. The faster a company can figure out which solutions will help customers deal with this risk, the more the company will be embraced by the industry.”

3. Intellectual property is a threat.

Sean Pak: For a long time, many in Silicon Valley believed that software should be free and that copyrights and patents are a bad idea. Many companies and investors now recognize that intellectual property is a threat. Failing to patent ideas or enforce trade secrets opens the door for other companies to do so. Having patents and strong trade secret protection in place ensures that a company’s products and the work that goes into developing those products ultimately make it into the marketplace.” 

4. In many cases, trade secrets protection is more valuable than patent protection.

Sean Pak: “The downside of patent protection is that patents are public. The work that went into getting patented is public information. Also, just because a patent office issues a patent, it doesn’t mean it’s valid. Patents can be challenged in court.”

John Quinn: “Patents have a time limit and may have validity issues, but trade secrets can last forever as long as they’re kept secret. However, a trade secret does come with certain obligations. There is an obligation to ‘take reasonable measures to maintain its secrecy’ and maintain a record of information access and employee training. If a trade secret is claimed, the first thing the defense will do is challenge the steps taken to protect the confidentiality and secrecy of the trade secret information.”

5. Never pay to settle frivolous lawsuits.

John Quinn: “If an employer starts to pay off unmeritorious claims to simply eliminate the problem, that employer will develop a reputation for exactly that. That employer will face more claims and the problem will grow. If there’s merit to the claims, employers have to weigh the risks of going forward, but it’s never worth it to pay someone just to go away.”