Articles Posted in Intellectual Property

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An insurance company is alleging theft of trade secrets in New York City by a former administrator. flashdrive.jpg

New York City business attorneys know that this kind of violation is addressed in 18 USC 1832. There, trade secrets are defined as any type of information or product (there’s a long list that includes financial, business, scientific and more) in which the owner has taken some reasonable measures to keep the information a secret and that the information has some economic value – whether actual or potential – that is derived from it being a secret.

The actual theft of a trade secret is when a person steals that information or product (either outright or through some form of deception or fraud) when they don’t have the right or permission. People can still be prosecuted under this law even if they aren’t directly responsible, but if they conspire to do this with others or if they purchase or receive the trade secrets.

Trade secrets are important for New York City businesses to thrive. For example, if you have a sauce company, the recipe you use is considered a trade secret – if everyone knew it, it would no longer hold its value because anyone could reproduce it.

The same general concept applies in this case, in which New York City-based insurance company American International Group Inc. has filed a civil lawsuit against the man who used to run the aircraft leasing arm of its company. The man in question is now a billionaire in Los Angeles. AIG officials say the former administrator stole company secrets, lured customers away and started taking away AIG’s business deals when he left in 2010 to work for a competing firm, Air Lease Corp., of which the 66-year-old is the owner.

AIG says that their former employee used flash drives – 16 of them – to download some 13,000 of AIG’s files, including price information, previous contracts, statements of work and letters of intent. They allege that AIG likely lost several million dollars as a result of his actions, and the company is seeking to recover it through this New York City business litigation.

A spokeswoman for the Los Angeles billionaire says the claims are baseless.

The man became rich after co-founding a company called International Lease Finance Corp., also known as ILFC. In 1990, he sold that company to AIG for $1.3 billion. He stayed on with the company after that to help run operations.

But that business relationship took a bad turn when AIG accepted a federal bailout back in 2008. That bailout meant the government would have oversight of the company and its subsidiaries – including ILFC. He tried on multiple occasions to buy ILFC back from AIG, but when that didn’t pan out, he left and founded Air Lease. To do so, he used contacts he had culled in the four decades he had been in the aircraft leasing industry.

Because of his regard within the industry, he was able to take customers with him, as well as some of the top executives who had headed ILFC. The lawsuit alleges those top executives worked in concert with the billionaire – in fact, at his direction – to take information from AIG while they still worked there.

It’s unfortunate when business relationships don’t work out. But when it happens, it’s important to ensure that your financial and business interests are protected. Hiring an experienced New York City business litigation attorney is crucial to achieving that end.
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A recent appeal between two restaurants with the name Patsy stems from allegations of trademark and unfair competition in New York City based on the name of the restaurant.

These matters and others between businesses must be taken seriously because these issues are the very lifeblood of a company. If a business’ very name is being ripped off by another, it must be defended. If consumers can get confused by the name of a business, that can translate to lost dollars and loss of value in the marketplace.
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In this case, Patsy’s Italian Restaurant, Inc., et al. v. Banas, et al., the owners of Patsy’s Italian Restaurant got into a legal battle with Patsy’s Pizzeria over the name “Patsy’s.” At issue was whether each chain of Italian food and pizza fraudulently obtained trademark registrations from the Patent and Trademark Office.

The lower court also refused to reinstate Patsy’s Pizzeria’s trademark registrations. Both sides then appealed and yet the appeals court upheld the lower court’s rulings. After years of litigation, the panel of judges ruled that neither establishment can use the name “Patsy’s” as its own.

According to the New York Post’s account, the jury found that a Long Island franchise of Patsy’s Pizzeria was using the name of Patsy’s Italian Restaurant. Both restaurants claimed the late Frank Sinatra loved their food best. A Brooklyn judge ruled that neither establishment could use the name “Patsy’s” alone and required the pizzeria to put a sign on the door saying the two weren’t affiliated.

Patsy’s Pizzeria claims it was the first to sell pizza by the slice, while Patsy’s Italian Restaurant claims to have the blessing of Sinatra.

While Patsy’s Italian Restaurant has been operating since 1944 and Patsy’s Pizzeria since 1933, both have existed without lawsuits until recently, the appellate court’s ruling states. In 1998, both began selling packaged sauce under the name “Patsy’s,” which caused “considerable consumer confusion,” the judges wrote.

And they both sought to have the other company’s trademark cancelled. It was difficult to determine which company entered the sauce market first as the alleged date was “clearly falsified,” the court wrote.

Because of these issues, the two companies have gone through years of litigation in trying to protect their brand and to make sure customers don’t get confused about where to spend their precious dollars. Every market is competitive and therefore, a business must do all that it can to protect itself.

That can range from official complaints to full-scale lawsuits. Properly written contracts, licensing agreements and intellectual property matters are all issues that must be ironclad for a company to continue on successfully. Once one company has found a niche or is doing well, others will catch on and try to emulate the product or the strategy in order to latch on and make money themselves.
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A U.S. appeals court recently ruled it is unlawful to import and sell copyrighted works created outside the United States without permission from the copyright owner.

In a 2-1 decision, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a man going to school at Cornell University violated the copyrights of publisher John Wiley and Sons when he sold less expensive editions of the company’s textbooks in the United States that were produced abroad.
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This ruling strengthens the rights of companies whose published works and products are created for cheap in other countries and then sold here or abroad for much less than they would by the original company. These New York intellectual property matters are prevalent throughout the city, where street peddlers try to sell everything from knockoff watches and designer bags to DVDs and movies that are still being shown in the theaters.

Copyright law is essential for any company that produces something because it allows recourse for those who unlawfully copy or rip-off the product. Intellectual property is the area of law that deals with a patent or copyright of a business’ products in order to protect them from outsiders who try to profit from the original company’s hard work.

In this case, according to the article, the ruling was based on a doctrine that establishes that the owner of a copy made lawfully under the Copyright Act can distribute the copy freely without the copyright owner authorizing it. But judges on the appellate court panel decided the rule in the Act only applies to products made inside this country.

To rule otherwise, the majority said, would defeat the purpose of a section of the law that stops a person from buying copyrighted works outside the country and bringing them in without the permission of the copyright’s owner.

But while other circuits, as well as five New York district judges have ruled in favor of copyright owners in other cases, they disagree about whether or not the first sale law applies to works produced abroad. It’s possible the U.S. Supreme Court will have to take the case to sort out the varying court opinions.

While this particular copyright law case deals with the production of books, this ruling will apply to any company that manufactures a product. Offshore production of U.S. goods has been a major issue in recent years, as many small businesses abroad have stolen the copyright owner’s design and product and sold it for less, even if the original company also sells its wares in those countries.

While competition will call for undercutting on costs to impress the consumer, it can’t be done unlawfully and to the detriment of the original company. These copyright and intellectual property matters must be handled by a Great Neck Business Lawyer who can work to protect a company from unfair competition and stolen ideas and products.
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As technology changes the way we operate in society and takes over the way we used to do things years ago, there are new legal challenges that must be made in order to regulate how businesses can use it.

A recent Thomson Reuters article reports on Manhattan anti-trust lawsuits that were recently filed, alleging technology and communications giant Apple conspired with five of the six major book publishers to fix prices for electronic books. And after one set of plaintiffs filed a lawsuit, four other class action lawsuits were filed — one in California and three in New York — making similar allegations.
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Anti-trust law is essentially the area of law that governs competition and prevents monopolies from occurring. It’s interesting that Apple is on the other end of an anti-trust lawsuit as in 1998, the United States Department of Justice and 20 states filed an anti-trust action against Microsoft Corporation, alleging the company abused monopoly power on Intel-based computers dealing with operating system and web browser sales. The issue in that case was whether it could sell its Windows operating system with Internet Explorer software.

Today, it seems second nature for PC users to have Internet Explorer standard, but the lawsuit raised questions about whether that restricted the market for competing web browsers. After a trial and appeals, Microsoft settled with the government, agreeing to share its application programming interfaces with other companies and allow access to the company’s systems, records and source code for five years.

The allegations in the case against Apple are slightly different, however. Electronic books — those read on Apple’s iPad, Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes and Noble’s Nook, among others — are the paperless version of millions of books, available with a click. The lawsuits claim that Apple and the publishers struck a deal in January 2010, just before Apple’s iPad launched, to fix prices. The deal was to raise e-book prices after the publishers were frustrated with Amazon charging low prices in order to dominate the market.

This type of litigation protects businesses from unlawful competition. Not that competition is bad — competition is what makes any marketplace thrive, but doing so unlawfully can cripple a business. As any small business owner knows — or if this is an example, any corporation knows, protecting one’s product through litigation is a step many have to take.

New York business law is designed to protect the companies that are acting lawfully and punish those who have broken the laws designed to regulate healthy competition. If companies are caught conspiring together to fix prices, steal competitors’ ideas or otherwise control the market, they can suffer the consequences of hefty fines and, in the public realm, very bad public relations.

It is important that businesses consider how the law can benefit them in regulating and policing the industry. Anti-trust laws are here to help companies who are working honorably and who have had dishonest competitors working together to bump out other companies who are trying to get a share of the consumer dollar.
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A lawsuit between powerhouse coffee company Starbucks and a South Dakota communications company shows the great lengths that companies will, and should, go to in order to protect their identity.

In Starbucks Corporation v. South Dakota Network LLC, the communications company alleges that by Starbucks using “SDN” in promoting its Starbucks Digital Network to customers using free wireless, it infringes on SDN Communications.
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Intellectual property matters — copyright and trademark issues — are essential to maintaining and growing a business. Without the law to sort out companies unlawfully using another company’s hard-earned image, there would be chaos. Thankfully, New York has many laws and processes dedicated to sorting out these common squabbles that can cause a business to go under.

In the Starbucks case, the Seattle-based coffee chain sued the South Dakota information-services company in a trademark dispute, Bloomberg reports. According to court documents, South Dakota Network LLC, which does business as SDN Communications, is owned by 17 telephone companies in the state, offering business services in 19 western states and telecommunications in 36 states.

The company has objected to Starbucks’ use of SDN, an acronym that refers to the Starbucks Digital Network, its free Wi-Fi service for customers. Starbucks has received several cease-and-desist letters from the South Dakota company, accusing the coffee company of willful infringement of SDN Communications’ trademarks.

Starbucks has asked a judge in the U.S. District Court, District of Nebraska to stop the communications company fro threatening to file an infringement suit and requests attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. Starbucks says the allegations “casts a cloud over Starbucks’ ongoing use and development of the Starbucks Digital Network.”

This type of dispute is common, but it’s also a critical aspect of business law in New York and elsewhere. Small companies especially must fend of larger corporations who attempt to use logos, sayings, graphic designs and other information in the marketing of their own business.

Sometimes, a letter from an experienced and well-trained New York intellectual property lawyer can get the job done, causing the other company to back down and stop using information that isn’t theirs. But other times, they simply won’t stop and litigation is required. But whatever the strategy, protecting a business is paramount.

Other times, defending these types of cases is essential. It’s possible that one company tries to bring legal action against another who has the legal authority to use a certain logo or saying, despite claims by the other side. Perhaps that company began using the information first and it needs to be sorted out in court.

The article also cites trademark problems between two cupcake companies and a copyright issue between Google and a group of publishers, who allege the search-engine company unlawfully digitizing books and offering free previews. As you can see, this area of law spans to every field of business and in all kinds of situations.
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The Second Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that New York City publisher Penguin Group can sue Oregon-based non-profit group American Buddha in New York for copyright infringement, according to a recent ruling in the case.

Copyright infringement and other intellectual property matters in New York must be handled aggressively and quickly because they can be crucial to the survival of any company. Hiring competent counsel to intervene and put an end to such illegal activity is critical.
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According to the recent court ruling, Penguin sued the non-profit group, which has an online library of classical literature and other works, including four published in print by Penguin. The publishing company alleged that by American Buddha posting four books on the Internet, it violated copyrights in works that it had published.

The reason for the appeals are based on the legal question of where the damage to Penguin occurred. According to the New York district court where the case was filed, Penguin didn’t suffer any damage in New York, but presumably did in Oregon or Arizona, where the online site’s servers are located. According to the New York Code’s long-arm statute, a court can have jurisdiction over a non-domiciliary who commits a tortious act that could have consequences in New York.

According to the court ruling, Penguin had to show it suffered injury “within the state,” which the lower court ruled it did not. The lower court decided it suffered injury in Oregon and Arizona, where the non-profits servers are located, not where the books were downloaded and used, which could have been anywhere in the world, including New York.

But the appellate court decided that it must interpret what the New York Legislature intended in attempting to protect New Yorkers from copyright infringement by non-New Yorkers. The panel identified the “right of a copyright holder to exclude others from using his property as a critical factor that tips the balance in favor of identifying New York as the situs of injury.”

The court of appeals vacated the judgment dismissing Penguin’s complaint and remanded the case back to the district court for further proceedings.

In this case, Penguin, a worldwide company that publishes millions of books for children and adults, was taking a step to try to protect their product from a group that the court ruled has damaged them by offering its products for free online. The Internet has made copyright infringement and intellectual property rights law much more important to enforce because once an idea or product is stolen and published online, it often can’t be brought back.

That’s why trusting in an experienced team of business law attorneys in Great Neck is critical in protecting your product and company from outsiders who threaten your survival. Use the laws of New York to your advantage and to protect you from this harm and consult today with a law firm that has used this type of law for decades to save companies who have been unlawfully attacked.
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The historic Tavern on the Green is no more, but its name lives on after a trademark settlement, The Wall Street Journal reported recently.

New York City will retain use of the name for restaurant services in the city, but its rights can be sold in other areas after a bankruptcy court settlement was reached. The famed Central Park restaurant closed in 2009 after the operators filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
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Manhattan Intellectual Property Lawyers represent companies whose names, ideas, inventions and other copyright and trademark issues must be litigated. Trust 30 years of experience if you are considering a lawsuit or must defend yourself from someone else.

Buyers can now use the Tavern name and logo for restaurants outside of the area, which also includes a portion of Pennsylvania. While the buyer will be able to use the trademark, it must have distinguishing features and specify that the operation is not related to Tavern in New York City, the newspaper reports. The trademark has been used in New York City since 1937.

It’s unclear whether the Central Park building will ever reopen as a restaurant. Negotiations broke down last year between the person who won a license to operate Tavern in 2009 and the former workers’ union.

The building is now being used as a visitors center lined with gourmet food catering trucks, The Huffington Post says. The famous Crystal Room was demolished and replaced with a courtyard for the trucks.

New York business law can be complex, especially when bankruptcy and other issues are involved. It’s important that businesses be well represented when procuring contracts, especially when the success a company has spent years building is threatened.

A trademark can be any word, name, symbol used in commerce. They distinguish a company from others and tell consumers and the public what services or products the company provides. The purpose of U.S. trademark laws is to protect consumers from getting confused about where they are spending their money.

But the laws also protect businesses that sometimes fight about who can use a certain term or logo in the branding of a product. That’s when a firm can be the difference between the success and failure of a business.
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A recent federal court ruling said that technology licensing company Rambus destroyed documents relevant to patent infringement trials with two technology companies, Bloomberg reports.

The intellectual property case involves Rambus, a chip designer that has been suing companies that refuse to license its technology. The court ruling affects several trials the company is involved in after allegations surfaced that officials destroyed potential evidence related to those trials.

New York intellectual property rights, which deal with inventions and copyrights, are an important part of business. That’s why a firm of experienced business law professionals is needed to protect your ideas, patents, trademarks and copyrights.
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According to the Bloomberg article, a five-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that the company destroyed documents relevant to patent infringement trials with Micron Technology and Hynix Semiconductor. The panel sent the case back to a lower court to determine sanctions, though it didn’t dismiss the cases altogether. The article quotes a Rambus official, who said the company doesn’t believe there was bad faith or prejudice in its actions.

The Bloomberg article also discusses a dispute where Microsoft, Nokia, HTC and Sony Ericsson Mobile Communications AB and Amazon.com have challenged Apple’s ability to trademark “Appstore” and “App Store” in Europe. Apple accounts for more than three-quarters of revenue in the mobile device application industry, bringing in nearly $3 billion in 2011, researchers believe.

It’s evident from the article how important this area of Manhattan business law really is. When a company is able to trademark or copyright inventions or ideas, it gives them a distinct advantage. Often, these trademarks and copyrights held by companies can be challenged by other companies in an effort to even the playing field. This is especially important in New York City, the epicenter of the country’s business.
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