Is a Copycat Site Hijacking Your Brand??

Is a Copycat Site Hijacking Your Brand??

Trademark, Trademark Infringement, UDRP
So you have a successful brand and online store but have learned that there's a website, or perhaps even an Amazon storefront, utilizing your exact brand, right down to the spelling and even your logo! This copycat site is threatening to trade off of your name to divert traffic and potential sales away from you through selling similar or inferior quality products and potentially harm your brand altogether. What if there was a way you could not only shut down the offending site, but also have it cancelled or, better yet, transferred to you, all without having to go to or incur the expense of a lawsuit in Federal court–and in a fraction of the time to boot? When Someone Imitates Your Brand This very scenario happened earlier this year…
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Taco Truck Beef Serves Up Tasty Legal Lessons to Business Owners

Taco Truck Beef Serves Up Tasty Legal Lessons to Business Owners

Business Formation, Trade Names, Trademark
Like so many of us who live in the desert Southwest, I loves me some tacos. We are definitely blessed to have some of the best in the nation. However, a business that recently contacted me from, let’s just say Tucson, highlights the importance of small businesses taking their legal structure and brand name seriously. Failure to do so could set your business up for a serious case of indigestion, legally speaking. Background The business in question was a local restaurant that also operated a popular taco truck, which we'll call "XYZ Killer Tacos". When I asked the owner what kind of legal structure he was operating the business through, his answer was sole proprietor. Ugh. Sole proprietor. In the business of serving food. To the public. (yikes) Nonetheless, his…
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Can I Legally Use The Image of a Famous Person (Who’s Dead)?

Can I Legally Use The Image of a Famous Person (Who’s Dead)?

Entertainment, Lanham Act, Name, Image, Likeness, Trademark
Every so often, I'm asked by clients and prospective clients alike whether or not it's permissible for them to use the name, image, or likeness ("NIL") of a celebrity or famous person who now happens to be deceased. This question was asked of me the other day by clients who wanted to put the face of, oh, let's just say, Che Guevara, on an article of clothing with some meme-worthy text. Delightful, right? I mean, what's the big deal; he's not going to complain, right? The Right of Publicity Unfortunately, while the famed Marxist revolutionary might not be around to complain, his estate or heirs likely are. There is a thing in the law known as a person's right of publicity, which basically deals with one's right to monetize or…
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Can I Really Be Forced to Sell My Domain Name?

Can I Really Be Forced to Sell My Domain Name?

Domain Names, E-Commerce, Trademark, Trademark Infringement
Is it possible for the owner of a domain name used for a business to be forced to sell their domain name? Earlier this month, I received a frantic e-mail from a business owner (to protect the innocent, let’s call her "Debbie"), who had received a threatening e-mail from another business owner (whom we’ll call "Penny"). Debbie’s e-mail went something like this (edited by me for brevity and client confidentiality reasons): I just learned another party has filed to trademark the name of a website I have owned now for several years. She says I have to sell her the domain name. What are my rights? Since this question (in some form or another) is often posed to me, I figured it might be the perfect time to relate some…
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How Do I Protect My Halloween Costume Idea?

How Do I Protect My Halloween Costume Idea?

Copyright, Copyright Infringement, Trademark
Maybe it’s the opportunity to get creative for an upcoming party, an excuse to eat candy brought into the office days after, or maybe it’s just that it signals the unofficial end to our hellacious Summers. Whatever the reason, Halloween rocks IMO. Earlier this year, a client of mine that designs and sells Halloween costumes (in addition to their main lines of novelty costumes, inflatables, signs, etc.) wanted to know how best to protect one of their latest designs which had been big seller so far, and which the client was also considering using as the corporate logo. In this post, we take a very high-altitude view at some of the most basic ways you can help to protect your original Halloween costume design. Copyright in Costumes Copyright protection extends…
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