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Tips from the Virginia State Police about Counterfeits

Posted November 20, 2019. I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a special agent of the Virginia State Police about the sale of counterfeit products in Virginia. While the police can’t give legal advice, I picked up a few tips. Just about any goods that can be counterfeited show up in Virginia, such as Read the full article…

When it Comes to Online Privacy, Your Virginia Business May be Governed by California and Europe

Posted on October 11, 2019. Your business may be in Virginia, but when it comes to online privacy laws, it may be governed by California and the European Union. For the uninitiated, a website often will have a privacy policy linked on its website, usually at the bottom. A privacy policy is supposed to educate Read the full article…

Lebron James and TACO TUESDAY – Trademark Lessons from a Celebrity

Posted September 17, 2019. Perhaps you’ve noticed Lebron James has gone viral on Instagram hyping “Taco Tuesday.” He often does it imitating a Spanish or Mexican accent. On some college campuses, doing that would get you in trouble for “cultural appropriation.” But he’s the King, so he can. Anyway, in mid-August, a holding company owned Read the full article…

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…