Articles Posted in Commercial Law and Litigation

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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.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 owner of Sazon, a popular Puerto Rican eatery in TriBeCa, has filed a $50 million discrimination lawsuit against city and state officials, alleging that recent complaints against the business are racially based, The New York Post reports.

New York Lawyers represent not only consumers, but also businesses that feel they have faced discrimination that threatens their well-being. It is crucial that governmental agencies be held accountable when their agents unlawfully discriminate against businesses. Our New York labor law attorneys are well-equipped to ensure businesses are treated fairly.Saxon, the restaurant, filed a lawsuit recently, claiming that Community Board 1 curtailed his hours of operation and banned live music or a disc jockey after learning he planned on playing Latino music, saying he wouldn’t get a liquor license if he didn’t agree to the board’s terms, the article states.

The federal lawsuit also states he was fined $5,000 after a board member sent the New York State Liquor Authority after him and caught people dancing and being served drinks in a downstairs lounge. Despite the success of similarly themed East Side restaurant Sofrito, the lawsuit states neighbors of Sazon have lodged complaints and subjected patrons to ugly racial remarks.

According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, of the 99,922 discrimination complaints in 2010, 11,304 were based on national origin. That made up about 11 percent of the total number of complaints.

In this competitive market, it is absolutely crucial that business owners protect their investments and livelihoods as best they can. In New York, that sometimes means filing lawsuits against other businesses, sometimes for copyright infringement, and sometimes the government for abuses in licensing. When discrimination is involved, so should Great Neck Business Lawyers.

But while businesses sometimes feel they are subjected to discrimination, individual workers or consumers file the most discrimination lawsuits in New York. In one recent case, two men have sued the Apple Store in New York City, claiming they were discriminated against based on their race, according to The Huffington Post.

According to the article, the two black men alleged they were forced to leave the store in December 2010 because of their race. The lawsuit states the men entered the store to buy headphones and were wearing baggy jeans and sweaters with hoods when a white Apple employee in his 50s, standing 6-foot-2 and weighing 225 pounds allegedly approached them.

According to the lawsuit, the man said “You know the deal. You know the deal” and told them they had to leave unless they planned on shopping. The man told them he didn’t want “your kind” hanging out in the store.

These types of occurrences are disturbing and must be fought in court. While many people are initially shocked and hurt by such actions, it is important to quickly seek an experienced law firm that handles these types of cases. The more time that goes by can hurt your case because witnesses will move or forget what happened and it’s possible that the statute of limitations could cost you an opportunity to seek justice. Don’t hesitate; act today.
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A network of Long Island doctors recently signed a deal with the state’s largest insurer, Long Island Business News reports.

Such a deal highlights the need for a firm of lawyers who have knowledge of New York contract law. Such insurance deals are complex and usually have many terms, including rates, conditions and other factors that require a contract is properly handled.The Beacon Independent Physician Association, founded last year and has nearly 250 members, reached a three-year agreement with Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. IPAs have been cropping up around Long Island and nationwide, allowing doctors to remain independent but give them big bargaining power in deals with insurers.

The IPA can lead to compensation based on efforts to improve care through electronic medical records, follow up and eliminating unnecessary testing, such as exams that are duplicated. The doctors share information with each other.

Contractual agreements require precision and extensive research and dedication to detail. Contracts are an essential element to doing business in New York. Without proper contracts, those written with a strict attention to detail, a business can fail.

In business, disputes often arise when one party doesn’t honor the terms of the agreement, which can bring up breach of contract actions. That’s when aggressive representation is necessary to protect your company’s rights. Many breach of contract allegations can be settled through negotiation, arbitration or mediation and our firm is dedicated to finding the best solution, which sometimes means avoiding an expensive lawsuit.

Contract disputes can often lead to financial ruin for the company if the issues aren’t properly handled. Competition is fierce and therefore resolving these problems as quickly, quietly and least expensive as possible is in the best interests of a company. And our firm is dedicated to doing what can most benefit our clients.

New York business litigation can be extensive and focus on many matters that affect the well-being of a company. Founders, executives and employees work hard to make sure the business grows and prospers and it can take only one lawsuit to ruin years of hard work. Our firm works to serve businesses that need legal help protecting them and those they serve.
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Steven Madden, the famed footwear and accessories company, recently announced a $30 million buyout of Cejon Accessories Inc., a group of design and marketing companies, The Associated Press reports.

New York Business Lawyers understand that buying or selling a business is complex and there are many factors involved in a multi-million dollar acquisition or merger.The all-cash deal includes Cejon Inc., Cejon Accessories Inc. and New East Designs LLC. The companies design scarves, wraps, winter accessories and other items. The Long Island City, NY-based Steve Madden runs 87 retail stores, including its three online stores.

The deal is subject to a working capital adjustment and some financial performance-based provisions through June 30, 2016. The deal is expected to add 7 to 9 cents to Steve Madden shares in the first year.

Able business attorneys will provide an initial analysis of a prospective purchase, prepare contracts and determine employer obligations. Many concerns may surface about employees and every party’s responsibilities. A trusted advocate will be proficient in federal, state and local laws that must be factored into a large-scale transaction. The New York Code is complex and requires a firm with decades of experience so that every issue is anticipated.

According to the New York State Division of Corporations, more than 1.8 million business entities are on file with the state. A corporate law firm should be counted on to handle contracts, employment agreements, non-compete agreements, tax issues, stock options and other areas that are complex.

There are no “standard” or “boilerplate” contracts used by business lawyers. Our attorneys spend as much time as necessary to study Individual cases, determine the terms of the contracts and represent the best interests of the client. We’re not just an attorney, but we become trusted members of your corporate management team.

Using an inexperienced firm during a business transaction can create a negative lasting effect on the business. It could be the difference between a successful and disastrous transaction.
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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.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 bill filed by a New York senator would re-classify New York City cooperatives and condominiums being slammed by recent assessment increases, The Queens Courier reports.

The bill by Senator Toby Ann Stavisky would change the classification of New York City co-ops and condos to that of single- and multiple-family homes. Recent valuation assessments released by the New York City Department of Finances showed, in some cases, 100 percent increases valuation, meaning a jump in taxes for the owners.A New York City cooperative housing law attorney can help you identify areas where your rights as a homeowner could be violated.

Supporters of the bill say it would cap assessments annually and allow those homeowners to be on equal footing with other single family houses in the city. It would also bring affordability to many condominiums and cooperatives.

Owners of commercial facilities and apartment buildings often make the decision to convert their properties into condominiums or cooperatives. But that decision affects the people already living in the building. All of these issues must be sorted out according to New York real estate law and an experienced real estate law firm should be consulted.

For instance, specific information must be included:

  • A full description of the building
  • Details on financing
  • Specific obligations and rights of all parties
  • Documents
  • Certifications
  • Disclosure of purchase procedures
  • Agreements for operations

And, New York requires that every condo or co-op offering be reviewed and approved by the New York Attorney General. This requires detailed contracts, shareholder matters, leasing issues as well as sales and transfers of units. All of this is complex and requires attorneys with years of experience in this area. Whether considering this type of a conversion or if you’re living in a building going through this change, contact an experienced group of New York City co-op attorneys.
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The Plaza Hotel’s Oak Room Restaurant in Manhattan is closing after squabbles with hotel management, The New York Times reports.

A business law attorney can defend you and your business from falling prey to loopholes in contracts or illegal actions by a property owner. New York contract law is complex and ensuring that your business lease is favorable when it comes to permitted uses, rent increases, renewal clauses and other factors is key to making sure a Manhattan restaurant and hotel work well together.

According to The Times, lease negotiations broke down with the hotel in March after tensions between the parties soared because hotel owners pushed the Oak Room owner to cancel events or pay double rent. The Plaza’s owners have sued the Oak Room’s owners for more than $33 million, claiming “numerous violations of the lease, unacceptable activities and significant financial arrears.”The dispute between the parties started with the restaurant’s “Day and Night” Saturday afternoon parties, which invited hundreds of young partiers and made the restaurant as much as $180,000 in the afternoon, much of it from top-shelf alcohol sales. But the parties disrupted hotel residents and guests.

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The recent Bratz Doll cases involving Barbie Doll giant Mattel illustrates the importance of employment contracts in New York.

Of course, the case also involves copyright, trademark and licensing issues and illustrates why hiring a business litigation attorney in New York is always important when establishing new product lines or dealing with issues involving terms of employment for highly-skilled employees.Forbes reports Mattel was ordered to pay an $89 million jury verdict to tiny rival MGA Entertainment; Mattel originally won a $100 million verdict against MGA in 2008, however that verdict was overturned on appeal.

At issue was whether a Mattel designer had the rights to develop the wildly popular Bratz doll on his own time and sell it to a rival. The employee claimed he developed the doll while living with his parents in Missouri — between stints working for the company.

Mattel argued the invention came during his second stint with the company — and that he violated the terms of his inventions agreement by taking the concept to MGA Entertainment. The company claimed copyright infringement and breach of contract and was awarded $100 million at the original trial.

However, the appeals court overturned the verdict, ruling that MGA deserved “sweat equity” for manufacturing and marketing the doll.
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