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Do’s and Don’ts for Businesses Using Photos Found Online

Posted July 17, 2019. About a year ago, an Alexandria federal trial court issued a decision that panicked commercial photographers. The decision could be interpreted as holding that it’s OK for a business to use someone else’s photograph in advertising without permission. To the relief of copyright owners, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals Read the full article…

BB&T and SunTrust become Truist and get sued by Truliant Federal Credit Union – What Trademark-Selection Lessons Can Be Learned?

Posted June 28, 2019 A trademark fight just broke out involving the merger of BB&T and SunTrust, two banks with heavy footprints in Central Virginia. Those combining banks recently announced their merged name (meaning their trademark) will be “Truist.” Shortly afterward, Truliant Federal Credit Union sued BB&T and SunTrust for trademark infringement. Truliant contends “Truist” Read the full article…

Liability for False Advertising: Kings, Corn Syrup, Beer, and Half-Truths

Posted May 21, 2019 I love the scene in the movie The Pink Panther Strikes Again where Inspector Clouseau is checking into a small inn. At the front desk, Clouseau notices a dog lying on the floor. He asks the innkeeper, “Does your dog bite?” “No,” responds the innkeeper. Clouseau bends down to pat the Read the full article…

What are the Implications for Businesses of the Supreme Court’s Recent Ruling on Copyright Registration?

Posted April 16, 2019. The Supreme Court recently held you can’t sue someone for copyright infringement until you register your copyright with the federal Copyright Office. How does this ruling impact businesses? To understand the implications, we must first review basics: A copyright covers an original expression fixed in a tangible medium. Copyrights typically owned Read the full article…

Must Your Business’s Website Be ADA Compliant?

Posted on March 19, 2019. Businesses are getting hit by lawsuits from plaintiffs’ attorneys claiming their websites don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). While the ADA was enacted before the commercial Internet existed, courts interpret the ADA as requiring businesses that are “public accommodations” to have websites usable by the disabled. Read the full article…

Amazon Sellers: Understand What the Amazon Brand Registry Can and Won’t Do for You

Posted February 20, 2019. Amazon is pushing its Amazon Brand Registry as a way for brand owners to enhance their position and attack counterfeit merchandise on Amazon. Let’s look at what it does and does not do. Some background first: A “brand” is advertising lingo for a trademark. It’s a business, product, or service name, Read the full article…

Be Careful in Having Events that Reference Popular Movies, TV Show, and Books

Posted on January 22, 2019. Being an intellectual property attorney, one of my favorite interchanges from The Simpsons comes from the episode that spoofed the Stephen King horror movie The Shining. Groundskeeper Willie: “Boy, you read my thoughts, you’ve got the shinning.” Bart Simpson: “You mean ‘shining’.” Groundskeeper Willie: “Shhh! Do you want to get Read the full article…

Dealing with Facebook Place Pages with Bad Reviews and Unflattering Pictures

Posted December 11, 2018. Someone writes a negative review of a business on social media. It might be by a customer or a purported current or former employee. The targeted business wants it taken down. Using the law usually isn’t a cost-effective option here, if it’s even an option at all. But, in the case Read the full article…

Watch Out for Fake Chinese Trademark Registrations

Posted on November 20, 2018. Chinese trademark applications are flooding the United States Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”). This could hurt your business’s ability to get trademark registrations on its business, product, and service names. In federal fiscal year 2014, Chinese applicants filed 6290 applications. That increased to 13,633 in fiscal year 2015, to 28,869 Read the full article…

Can Employers Use Trade Secret Law to Snag Twitter Accounts from Departing Employees?

Posted on October 24, 2018. If an employee with a large Twitter following leaves, and if the employee primarily used the Twitter account for business promotion, can the former employer use trade-secret law to claw back the account? This is the central issue in a dispute between former Roanoke Times sports writer Andy Bitter and Read the full article…