New York City Intellectual Property Law Blog

Weighing your options when facing a torrent-related lawsuit

Downloading media through a torrent network, such as BitTorrent, is a relatively common practice, especially among young people. However, many of the people sharing or downloading files online could be in violation of copyright law. Those who download files online often seem to believe that copyright infringement for personal use likely won't result in any legal consequences.

That belief seems to be self-serving, as there is plenty of evidence to the contrary. Filmmakers have taken action repeatedly against those who illegally download their works. There are also the Napster lawsuits of the aughts to consider. Individuals who lose intellectual property lawsuits could find themselves ordered to pay tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to the plaintiff.

Sexual harassment and preventative measures

Our blog has addressed a number of topics related to sexual harassment, a serious problem in workspaces across the country. The consequences of this behavior can be very damaging, not only for employees who are affected but for a company's bottom line and future growth as well. If you are a business owner, it is crucial to address sexual harassment immediately and appropriately. Moreover, it is also important to do what you can to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the first place. Sadly, some business owners have shown little regard for this serious issue.

There are a number of preventative measures that should be taken to keep sexual harassment out of the workplace. For example, companies should make sure that all staff members are trained on different types of behavior that constitute unlawful sexual harassment and the appropriate steps that should be taken to address any occurrences of this unlawful behavior. This may be accomplished by setting up a training program and periodically checking that employees understand which types of behavior are not acceptable in the workplace.

Litigation over an employment contract

From trade secrets to compensation, benefits and other issues, there are many important areas to cover in an employment agreement. Staff members may have a number of questions before signing a job contract, and some may not completely understand what the agreement fully entails before they sign. Unfortunately, contract disputes over an employment agreement are not uncommon, and they arise for many different reasons. If you run a business, these disagreements can be quite difficult to deal with, and in some instances an employee may even decide to take the matter to court.

When litigation arises as a result of job contract issues, it is pivotal to immediately go over all details surrounding the situation and review the contract carefully. These cases can have a significant impact on a company in different ways, whether financial penalties result from the lawsuit or other consequences arise (such as other staff members deciding to take legal action or file a complaint, damage to the reputation of your business, etc.).

What is estate tax portability?

You will work very hard throughout your life in New York to accumulate assets and properties with the hope of them one day benefiting your future generations. The thought of having to lose any of the overall value of your estate to taxes, then, may be quite disheartening. Yet an estate tax management strategy should be included as part of the estate planning process. With the proper preparation, you may be able to avoid paying estate taxes altogether. 

How is this possible? Only a small percentage of estates are ever required to pay an estate tax in the first place. That is because the federal government has established an estate tax threshold that is updated annually (per Forbes Magazine, the threshold for 2019 is $11.4 million). If the overall taxable value of your estate is less than that amount, your estate does not owe any taxes. Furthermore, you can transfer up to that amount in gifts to beneficiaries without being subject to gift taxes. 

Workplace accidents and small business owners

When something goes wrong on the job, workers and their employers may have a number of concerns. From an employee’s standpoint, job-related injuries can lead to emotional distress, financial problems, physical pain and an inability to keep working. From an employer’s point of view, job-related accidents can result in the loss of talented staff members and may even lead to litigation. For small business owners, this can be an especially difficult predicament.

A small business owner may lack the financial resources to recover from litigation over a work-related accident. Or, they may not have a great deal of experience when it comes to handling these types of cases. There are many different issues that may be raised in the wake of a work-related accident, especially if an injured worker decides to pursue legal action as a result of the mishap.

Can someone sue me for downloading videos?

You probably stream content all the time through various video sites. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to you that you could be sued for this type of activity.

While streaming is nothing new, there is a rising trend of people filing lawsuits -- and you could very easily find yourself the target of one of these. The economic impetus for these mass-produced, anonymized suits is that a certain percentage of people are often too bewildered to contest. 

People using BitTorrent to pirate porn could face lawsuits

Not long ago, most people could feign ignorance regarding the illegality of downloading media without paying for it. However, the much-publicized Napster lawsuits and similar civil cases over the last two decades have created near ubiquitous public awareness about copyright protections and downloading digital content. Some individual users faced six-digit judgements for downloading music or films.

Unless the creator of a product explicitly offers it for free download, it is a violation of copyright law to provide content to others for download or to download and consume a work of media yourself. Interestingly enough, two companies actively enforcing their rights against digital pirates are well-known pornography production companies.

Chinese company charged with stealing trade secrets

Rights to intellectual property do not stop at national borders, as demonstrated by a recent indictment filed against a Chinese smartphone manufacturer that includes counts of stealing trade secrets from an American company

The U.S. Department of Justice filed the indictment in New York City last Monday, naming the chief financial officer of the company, the company itself and two firms with some sort of affiliation with the company, although details are not available at this time. 

Age discrimination and business litigation

Legal action brought on by allegations of discrimination can be incredibly challenging for business owners since these lawsuits can result in much more than harsh financial penalties. In fact, cases involving discrimination can also bring down the good reputation of a business and they may also encourage other staff members to file suit (even if there is no truth to the claims). Many people realize the prevalence of racial discrimination and discrimination on the basis of a worker's gender, but some forget that there are many other ways in which workers are discriminated against. For example, an employee may experience discrimination due to his or her age.

Age discrimination cases may be the result of a disgruntled employee blaming their recent dismissal on their older age. Or, someone who never even worked for the company may accuse the business of age discrimination. For example, someone may say that they were turned down for a job opening solely because of their age. It is important to be aware of the different reasons why age discrimination cases (and other lawsuits involving discrimination) can surface, and do what you can to protect the interests of your business in the event that such an incident takes place.

When a company needs to change to survive

Many businesses in New York fail within the first three years, but those that can adapt and change may have more success than those that stick to their original business plan and structure.

According to Forbes, before making changes to a business, company owners should consider these factors:

  • Brooklyn Bar Association 1872 Justice Integrity Honor Courtesy
  • National Italian American Bar Association Representing The Italian American Legal Community
  • Columbian Lawyers Association of Brooklyn
  • Columbian Lawyers Association of Rockland County
  • The Copyright Society of the USA
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