While we have written on this topic in the past, because the NCAA Basketball Tournament is an annual event and the NCAA gets more aggressive each year, this information bears repeating. Because businesses sometimes tie promotions to the Tournament and use it as a marketing activity, they should be careful how they do so.
(To the tune of Hotel California)
Once in Northern Virginia, a trademark was filed
A Mexican company a long list compiled
Cosmetics and phone cases, purses, hair gel and shoes
The list went on for six classes, just what did they have to lose?
During examination, a disclaimer was sought
The applicant gladly complied, any fear of refusal was for naught.
Then the mark was published, but the Eagles they did see
Their lawyers got involved
Said you can’t use this for free
Registering HOTEL CALIFORNIA
Such a lovely try (such a lovely try) Such a lovely cry
Don’t even try to use HOTEL CALIFORNIA
For any goods (for any goods) in our neighborhoods….
What Can That “Song” Possibly Mean?
Intellectual Property Resolutions: Take Stock of Your IP Assets
Often people resolve in the New Year to take stock of their assets to see where they are in terms of not only protecting what they have but also to implement long-range planning and goals. While businesses may often check their status and progress against things like five-year plans, they should not forget to also take stock of their assets, especially Intellectual Property (“IP”) assets. IP assets can often be the most important assets to a business. Unfortunately, they can also be the most overlooked and under-protected.
With the new year upon us, this is an opportune time for businesses to audit their IP to make sure these important assets are secure by following these three steps:
- Identify all of a company’s IP in its various forms such as trademarks, copyright, trade secret and patents.
- Review those assets to ensure they are properly protected, including review of registration status, reviewing licenses and contractor agreements or non-disclosure agreements.
- Develop internal policies to make sure newly created IP is documented and protected as well as procedures to ensure secrecy of proprietary information.
Our Intellectual Property practice group is available to assist with auditing your IP assets and to devise IP protection plans. For more information, please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Business Law Resolutions
It’s that time of year when we all make New Year’s Resolutions to improve ourselves. From Henderson Franklin’s Business and Tax Practice, Erin Houck-Toll reminds us that as you make and implement your personal resolutions, don’t forget your business. This is a good time to review your business’ governing documents—bylaws, operating agreements, employment agreements and shareholder agreements—to ensure they still make sense, both in terms of current law and tax strategies, as well as how you are actually operating. If you have any questions, please feel free to email me at email@example.com.
By a slim margin, the United Kingdom voted to leave the European Union (EU) last week. Via the European Union Trademark System and the European Patent Convention a trademark or patent owner had the ability to secure protection across all EU member states by a single, unified registration. Of course, EU protection extended only to EU member states. So, with the UK on the way out of the EU, questions arise as to what protection will the owner of an EU right have in the UK once the BREXIT is complete? For companies that do business in Europe, this could have an impact on European Intellectual Property rights. Smart companies should start considering European options now.
It will take at least two years for the UK to officially and fully withdraw from the EU. Until that time, all EU treaties and laws will continue to apply. So, for the near term, there does not appear to be any significant impact.
In a rare example of getting something done, the Senate and House of Representatives have passed Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2016 (“DTSA”) and it is now headed to the White House for signature. President Obama has indicated he will likely sign the legislation. With this in mind, it is a good time to review just what proprietary information your business has and how thoroughly it is protected.
Until now, trade secrets have been protected by state law. While the law is relatively standard there are some slight variations state by state. Indeed, 48 states, Florida included, have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”) in order to provide businesses with uniformity. At the federal level, while providing protection for other forms of intellectual property like patents, trademarks and copyrights, trade secrets had no specific protection. The DTSA is changing this legal landscape.
Last spring, we discussed Tesla’s problems securing trademark rights in its name in China. See our post here. The moral of the Tesla story was to seek trademark registration in China as early as possible. Now, Apple has lost a trademark battle in China that underscores the importance of the Tesla lesson and gives an additional twist.
In 2002, Apple registered the IPHONE trademark in China for computer hardware and software and mobile telephones. In 2007, Xintong Tiandi, a leather goods maker, sought and obtained registration of the IPHONE trademark for leather goods, including phone cases. Apple, claiming that its IPHONE mark was famous and well known in China, challenged Xintong Tiandi’s IPHONE registration in the China Trade Mark Review and Adjudication Board, where it lost. Apple then took the fight to the courts in China and lost in the lower court. Apple appealed and The Beijing Municipal High People’s Court has ruled against Apple again, stating that Xintong Tiandi registered the IPHONE mark before Apple, thus giving it superior rights, and Apple’s IPHONE trademark was not sufficiently well known in China at the time Xintong Tiandi registered IPHONE for leather goods. As the first user of the mark, Xintong Tiandi had the greatest rights and Apple’s claims failed.
The NCAA Basketball Tournament is here which also means local pride is high and many businesses use the Tournament as a marketing opportunity. Many promotions will refer to terms like MARCH MADNESS or FINAL FOUR for impact. The NCAA, however, is always vigilant and aggressively protects against unauthorized uses of its trademarks, especially during the Tournament. The NCAA has a number of registered trademarks relating to the Tournament including MARCH MADNESS, FINAL FOUR, ELITE EIGHT, and THE BIG DANCE. Use of these trademarks in ways that connote come sort of connection or affiliation with the NCAA or the Tournament will likely draw an objection from the NCAA.
Dos and Don’ts
Businesses routinely conduct inventory audits to account for goods on hand, stocks of parts or components, equipment audits to account for machinery and its condition, and financial audits to locate and account for cash and business valuation. Businesses that do not conduct audits invariably run into problems.
Intellectual Property (“IP”) represents an asset class that businesses should regularly audit for a variety of reasons, including: Continue Reading 5 Reasons Why You Should Conduct an Intellectual Property Audit
Trade secrets are proprietary pieces of information, unknown to others, that give you an advantage over competitors. While thoughts of trade secrets often conjure such iconic examples as the formula for Coca-Cola or Colonel Sanders’ “11 herbs and spices,” they can be far more mundane. However exotic a trade secret might be, all businesses have them and the central key to protecting them is keeping them confidential. This post will show some of the steps that can be implemented to ensure protection of your proprietary information.
- Create Processes to Identify Trade Secrets in the First Instance
As noted, trade secrets are things not generally known outside your organization that provide you with an advantage over competitors. While trade secrets can take many forms, the cornerstone is they are meant to be confidential. Trade secrets can include, among other things, recipes and formulas, process steps, customer lists, supplier information, pricing schedules, forecasts, business plans and prototypes. The key consideration is they are things you want kept hidden from competitors.
Whether you have 10 or 10,000 employees, running a business can be a challenge. Making decisions based on strategic reasoning is critical to the success and longevity of any company. How can members of the c-suite, as well as the small business owner, gain helpful insight into the boardroom and, at the same time, try and avoid the courtroom?
We cordially invite you and your top-level managers to join members of Henderson Franklin’s legal team on Tuesday, November 17, 2015 as they present the Southwest Florida C-Suite Summit at Sanibel Harbour Marriott Resort & Spa. Topics and speakers include:
The Recipe for Business Longevity presented by Attorneys Guy Whitesman (Chair, Business and Tax Department), Eric Gurgold (Chair, Estate Planning and Administration Department) and Mark Nieds (Intellectual Property Group). They will outline proven techniques and best practices to preserve, protect, and perpetuate your business. One size does not fit all. The panel will explore avenues to successful business perpetuation, liquidity events and the preservation of wealth.
The Comeback Kid: Southwest Florida’s Ongoing Economic Recovery. Attorneys Denis Noah (Chairman of the Horizon Council) and Russell Schropp (Horizon Council Task Force Chair) will provide a look at the state of Southwest Florida’s economic recovery – from a lawyer’s perspective! Continue Reading Registration is Open — Southwest Florida C-Suite Summit