New York City Intellectual Property Law Blog

NYC rent stabilization plan is making landlords uneasy

New York City has been struggling to balance the interests of residential landlords and tenants for a while -- and landlords have been struggling with rent controls. Now, commercial landlords also have a reason not to be happy with a new proposal from the New York City Council that many consider "anti-business."

The proposal would create a new board that would then have the power to set rental guidelines for commercial properties, similar to the way things are done for residential rents. Commercial landlords say that the plan is unfeasible and that the issue of an individual property's rent is far too complex for a board to manage. They also feel that the market currently is managing itself just fine.

Types of trusts and their uses

One of the most complicated parts of life is actually deciding how to best pass your assets on after your death. You worked hard to earn what you have, so it's only natural to want to preserve as much of that from the government's grasp as possible.

For many people, that means using some form of trust -- or possibly several -- to hold their assets and (eventually) pass them on to the next generation.

Do you have plans to purchase commercial real estate in New York?

New York has an aggressive and competitive real estate market. Properties ranging from apartment buildings to industrial facilities sell for a premium when compared with similar properties in other states.

Given the high level of demand for commercial real estate in New York, investing in commercial real estate either for your business or as part of a broader investment strategy can prove to be profitable. Purchasing a property instead of leasing it means you have more control over the use of the facility. Also buying means that your business develops equity in the property, as well as the potential to sell the real estate held by the company later for a profit over the purchase price.

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.

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