New York City Intellectual Property Law Blog

Patent basics

Business owners and executives in New York often have the need to protect sensitive information relating to their business or products from being used against them. This information is commonly referred to as intellectual property. It is not tangible but frequently represents the essence of what a company offers and its competitive edge. There are various protections available to companies specific to intellectual property and a patent is one type.

As explained by the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a patent does not so much give an inventor something as it prevents others from doing something. Specifically, a company with a patent will be the only one allowed to import, sell, use or make a particular item for the duration of the patent. Most patents last for 20 years from the date of the initial filing for the patent.

Handling rumors of litigation

We have covered so many different reasons behind business lawsuits, but some owners may face challenges related to litigation before a suit has even been filed. If you have reason to believe that your company may be taken to court in the near future, it is crucial to start preparing at once. By taking the time to prepare for litigation, you may be able to reduce the chances of an unfavorable outcome. In fact, paying careful attention to the issue at hand may even result in the dismissal of legal action altogether.

For starters, it is important to take a close look at who is involved in the potential lawsuit and the details surrounding the incident(s). You may need to speak with staff members or business partners and, in some cases, it might be a good idea to reach out to those who have threatened to take your business to court. With this being said, it is also crucial to remember that each situation is different and in some cases a different approach may be wiser.

Should you hire employees or contractors?

Being a business owner in New York can be extremely rewarding, but it also comes with its challenges. If you are a brand new company, or you are a smaller business ready to grow, it may be time to hire. Typically, the options you have are to hire traditional employees or independent contractors. There are benefits to hiring either one, and it typically depends on your specific business and what work you need done.

When determining which type of worker you should hire, you first need to understand the differences between the two. The Internal Revenue Service discusses some factors to consider, and the fact it comes down to the type of control you want to have. These include:

  • Financial 
  • Behavioral
  • Type of relationship

Include these things in a partnership agreement

Going into business with a partner is a lot like getting married. You will go into it enthusiastically and optimistic that your business will be a total success and will last forever.

However, there could come a time when you and your partner do not agree on how to move forward with the business or maybe there is some other dispute that you cannot come to terms on. This is where a partnership agreement comes in.

Commercial property and taxes

There are all sorts of obligations that people may have to take into consideration when it comes to commercial real estate transactions Aside from the details of a contract and handling a dispute, some people face challenges over tax matters. Commercial property owners may have to pay income taxes as well as property taxes and these important aspects of commercial real estate ownership should not be overlooked since the consequences for failing to pay taxes properly can be significant. We also understand how commercial property owners across New York may have many other obligations on their plate and that daily life can be quite stressful.

If you are unsure about which taxes you are required to pay, or the amount you will owe, it is pivotal to prepare yourself before tax season rolls around. Unfortunately, some people have overlooked this issue until it is too late, which can complicate things further. Before moving ahead with a commercial real estate transaction, you may want to consider the tax implications and you should definitely be prepared for how the deal will impact you from a financial standpoint and with respect to taxes.

Business litigation and the holidays

Being taken to court as a business owner can be challenging for many reasons, and we have written about this extensively on our blog. However, it can be particularly hard for business owners under certain circumstances, such as personal health issues or marital problems. Moreover, certain times of year can make litigation particularly challenging, such as the holiday season. With Halloween coming up and a handful of holidays thereafter, it may be particularly important to focus on how you will handle litigation during the holiday season if you suspect that you will find yourself in the courtroom.

Litigation can be incredibly stressful as well as time-consuming. Worse, the holidays can also take up a considerable amount of your time and bring certain stressors as well. It is important to do what you can to prevent litigation from shattering your holiday celebrations. Likewise, you should try to prevent holiday festivities from getting in the way of your ability to handle the lawsuit. Regardless of why you are taken to court, litigation can negatively impact your business and your personal life in all sorts of ways. From financial repercussions to emotional hurdles, these hurdles should not be overlooked.

Carefully preparing for a merger

We know how challenging it can be to launch a business and make key decisions for your company. Other business-related issues can cause a great deal of stress as well, such as mergers and acquisitions. If you are considering a merger, or have already started the process, it is very important to make sure that you prepare properly. For example, you should go over the process and get answers to any questions that you have. With such a potentially complicated transaction, it is crucial to have a solid understanding of your options before moving ahead.

From signing a non-disclosure agreement to working through issues involving staff members, business partners, finances, legal professionals and the terms of the deal, there are a wide variety of considerations you may have to review. It is also very important to remember that each transaction is unique, so there may be certain facets of this merger that require even greater attention. When you do all you can to increase the likelihood of success, you may feel more confident about the deal and reduce stress.

Nintendo sues to protect Mario Kart characters

Without laws protecting content, anyone in New York might be able to profit off the name and brand recognition that others have worked hard to build. While the actual damage done by intellectual property theft might seem to be difficult to notice in the immediate, a "big picture" assessment of the matter may reveal how multiply parties trying to use the same content could "water down" and devalue an image or icon. Such a devaluation might only affect the image's creator, who made the investment in creation, as opposed to others who never made any sacrifices towards its development. 

Content owners tend to be very protective of their creations for this very reason. The video game company Nintendo serves as a strong example of this fact. The company has historically been very protective of its IP, as evidenced in a recent lawsuit filed against a Japanese company. The company offered customers a real-word experience on the streets of Tokyo, renting out carts as well as costumes of the game's characters. While this action on its own might have not invited scrutiny, the fact that the company took pictures of customers dressed as characters and then used those for advertising brought swift action from Nintendo. The gaming giant filed suit in Japanese court alleging copyright infringement; the court hearing the case agreed. 

When your company is taken to court over trade secrets

In many of our posts, we have approached business law from the perspective of a business owner whose company has been treated unfairly in one way or another. However, there are also times when a more defensive approach may be necessary. For example, you may own a company that is being taken to court over allegations of trade secret infringement. This can be a very unnerving experience and some business owners who have never found themselves in this position before may be completely unsure of how to handle the situation. However, this is no time to be unprepared.

When it comes to trade secret claims, every single case is unique. There may potentially be many different aspects of the case which you need to explore in more detail since they could impact the end result. Perhaps your company has been falsely accused of stealing trade secrets by a competitor who is mistaken or intentionally trying to bring your business down. Or, maybe someone within your company did misuse trade secrets and you are worried about the repercussions. Either way, there may be very much at stake and it is crucial to approach this case from the appropriate angle.

When does a similar logo infringe trademark law?

As the owner of a business, your logo and visual brand will be a valuable asset for you. It is likely that your customers have positive associations with your visual brand and the logo that you have is important for customer loyalty.

When a company in a similar industry or location creates a logo with a striking resemblance to your copyright, it will be a cause for concern. It is likely that you will be worried that the company is intentionally doing this is an attempt to gain some of your market share, or that the loyalty to your brand will be diluted or confused because of the similar visuals.

  • NYSBA
  • 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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