New York City Intellectual Property Law Blog

How can you evaluate trademark confusion?

Trademarks are designed to protect a brand's reputation and revenue. That is why companies fight so hard to make sure that they protect those trademarks.

Despite the aggressive measures companies may take to protect a trademark, issues still persist. It isn't uncommon for a brand to discover that some other company is using a trademark that is somewhat similar to their own.

Avoiding a simple but common estate planning error

Beneficiary designations are official selections on financial accounts that indicate to whom the company should pay out benefits when an employee passes away. For instance, you may list your spouse as your beneficiary on your life insurance policy so that they get the money if something happens to you. People also use beneficiary designations on retirement accounts and other financial portfolios.

That seems straightforward enough, but people often make a critical mistake by forgetting to update these designations when necessary. It's one of the most frequent mistakes with estate planning, and it often happens because people do not fully understand the power that these designations have.

Several porn companies use copyright trolling to sue people

BitTorrent has been a popular system for individuals who want to download digital content for many years. Quite a few people use BitTorrent believe it is an impenetrable system that effectively prevents them from any legal or ethical ramifications for their actions. It is popular for many kinds of downloads, especially those that people don't want to pay for, such as adult content.

However, the ability of companies to track BitTorrent activity has increased in recent years. As a result, there has been a notable increase in the number of BitTorrent lawsuits brought by content creators and producers against individuals downloading digital content. Any company, from a big movie studio like Disney to a music label like Sony Music Group, could take action against those who infringe on their copyright protection by downloading works of art without paying for the content.

Judges pushing back on adult movie companies for filing lawsuits

Protecting copyrights, trademarks and other forms of intellectual property is important for businesses and creators. Without protections for the things they create, companies and artists have less incentive to produce items for the public to consume.

By creating protections that promote the ownership of the individuals who create original works or concepts, the federal government helps encourage creativity and art. Still, the government won't enforce those intellectual property rights. That job falls to the person who has the rights. Lawsuits are a common means for companies to push back against individuals who violate their copyrights or intellectual property rights.

Removing an executor from office

It might be easy for many in New York to assume that the most important people involved in the administration of an estate are the beneficiaries. Yet in actuality, a strong case might be made that it is the executor who plays the most important role. After all, it falls to the executor to ensure that the wishes of the settlor (as stipulated in the settlor’s estate instruments) are carried out. This brings with it a fiduciary duty, which (as detailed by the Cornell Law School) can result in serious penalties if breached. 

Exactly how an executor might breach their fiduciary duty may be open to debate. Ultimately, their obligation is to the settlor (as their role is specifically to administer the settlor’s estate as dictated). Yet they also may be accountable to those who are party to the estate. If such a party feels that an executor has failed to fulfill their designated duties, they can petition for them to be removed from the office. 

How to prevent litigation by terminated employees

New business owners in New York who plan to have employees must take proper precautions to ensure they do not face a lawsuit down the road. Wrongful termination is one of the biggest reasons ex-employees sue, so it is worth taking the time to put systems and regulations into place  to prevent this from happening.

According to Forbes, there are six major reasons employees bring lawsuits against their former employers. One is they do not understand why they faced termination. Another related one is being fired for bad performance when there was no documented proof. Failing to follow the company's policy is another reason employees sue. Other reasons have to do with the treatment of complaints. Employees expect employers to investigate their complaints in an expedient manner and, when they are not, they can use this against the employer in court.

Could someone easily step into your role at your company?

It is common for people who build their own businesses to think of their role in that business as indispensable. After all, you probably handle a significant amount of the daily operations. However, while it is okay to take pride in how much you do for your company, you shouldn't try to obfuscate your role or responsibilities.

If people close to you don't have the knowledge, understanding or authority to handle the role you play in the company, that could cause major issues in the future. If something happens to you, your business could soon fail. You need to plan for the future success of your company, even when you are no longer involved in its operations.

A closer look at the purpose of zoning laws

When people are interested in building a new establishment in New York, they cannot simply buy a plot of land and build whatever they want. The restrictions they will face are because of laws called zoning requirements. These rules and regulations are enforced to make sure that land is used for an appropriate purpose given its location, the surrounding establishments and who will be utilizing whatever is built on that land. 

Without zoning laws, there would be an incredible lack of organization and safety which could greatly impede a city's growth, the wellbeing of its citizens, the ability to attract new economic growth and potential to thrive. According to the New York City Department of City Planning, the primary factors of the Zoning Resolution are as follows:

  • The building's height.
  • The building's size.
  • The building's setback and positioning.
  • The building's shape. 

Common mistakes entrepreneurs make

Starting a business in New York can be exciting, but it is also very challenging. It is not something to lightly go into, as there are many things that can go wrong and quickly lead to the company's demise. It is important to understand some common mistakes that new business owners make so others can avoid them.

Some entrepreneurs decide to take on a partner to help run the business, and while this can be a successful strategy, Investopedia warns that picking the wrong partner can be disastrous. One should not choose a partner just because of family or friend ties, as this blurs boundaries and can interfere with important communications. A good partner ideally should have some business experience and should balance the skills of the other to help the business run more effectively.

Supporting the growth of a business through strategy

Growing a business in New York is not an objective that can be achieved by sitting idly by and waiting for success to come. On the contrary, successful company leaders spend considerable time testing strategies to find the ones that they can leverage to capitalize on their organization's strengths and ultimately achieve success. Through observation of their competitors and trial and error of their own experiments, organizational leaders can determine what methods are critical to their company's growth. 

Accelerating business growth beyond average accomplishments requires business leaders to learn the importance of timing their efforts to grow their company. People should also learn the value of embracing circumstances that are unexpected and potentially harmful to their business's future, and finding creative ways to make the most of their situation by strategizing to reduce the impact that unexpected changes may have on their growth and success. 

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