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New Employee Rights Poster Issued Under National Labor Relations Act

Insight May 27, 2010

The Department of Labor recently published a poster listing employees'; rights under the National Relations Labor Act (NRLA). The notice, which Federal contractors and subcontractors are required to display in a conspicuous location, informs employees that under the NRLA they are guaranteed:

  • the right to organize and bargain collectively with their employers;
  • the right to engage in other protected concerted activity; and
  • protection from certain types of employer and union misconduct.

The notice is required to be posted all places where notices to employees are normally displayed, whether physical or electronic. It is available in both a one-page 11 x 17 in. format and a two-page 8.5 x 11 in. format. There is a fact sheet provided which lists, among other things, exceptions to the posting requirements and information on posting the notices and acquiring translated posters. More information is available at the Office of Labor-Management Standards website.

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Protecting Children Online–Where we are and where we’re heading under Children’s Online Privacy Act

Insight May 23, 2010

Originally posted on: The Internet Law Advisor Blog

The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998 (COPPA) with its implementing regulations, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA Rule) (in effect since April 21, 2000), have served as the primary law in the U.S. for protecting personal information about children online. It’s a gross understatement to state that the Internet is a different world than what it was when COPPA and the COPPA Rule were implemented. Suffice it to say that the world of social networks combined with mobile computing has, for better or for worse, become the fabric of our children’s world – and in 1998 social networks were not even in Congress’s imagination. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), charged with enforcement of COPPA has scheduled a COPPA Rule Review Roundtable on June 2, 2010 and is collecting comments through June with the objective of seeing whether changes to the COPPA Rule should be considered. On April 29th, Senate Commerce Chairman John (Jay) Rockefeller, D-W.Va., said that Congress may also need to consider making changes to COPPA itself. So, it’s a good time to review what COPPA requires and what might be changed.

 

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Is It a Barbie World?

Insight April 20, 2010

We all can agree that Barbie is a famous brand, regardless of what we may think of her or the thin values she espouses. Barbie dolls have been around since May 9, 1958. The first Barbie trademark registration (Reg. No. 0,689,055) for a “doll” was issued on December 1, 1959.

This is interesting because “doll” in the singular form is no longer allowed to be used in the listing of goods and services in trademark applications. Rather, applicants must state “dolls” in the plural because using a mark in only one transaction is not enough for trademark rights to attach. In other words, you must sell multiple items (even if the items are identical dolls) for trademark rights to attach.

OK, back to Barbie.

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The Skinny (Cow) on Weight Watchers v. Nestle

Insight April 13, 2010

This posting is about the recently filed trademark case Weight Watchers International Inc. v. Nestle U.S.A. Inc., 09-07964, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).

MY DISCLAIMER — I have not read the complaint.

Instead, I saw Joel Rosenblatt’s article in the news section on the e INTA LinkedIn Group.

Joel’s article states that Weight Watchers sued Nestle because it’s Dryer’s ice cream sub-brand, SKINNY COW, improperly displays the Weight Watchers POINTS mark on the SKINNY COW packaging. So, next I looked at a package of SKINNY COW ice cream sandwhiches.

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Open Brands?!?

Insight April 13, 2010

A few weeks ago, I attended the Social Media for Sustainability conference hosted by Justmeans. I met Joey and Stacie Shepp there and Joey told me about their project, Open Brands. Open Brands uses Twitter to follow and measure the real life conversations that consumers are having about brands. Open Brands is able to do this through the use of “brand tags” on Twitter. Brand tags are hashtags about brands. Hashtags consistof use of the # hash symbol — #love — & a word. Simply put, brand tags are hashtags used with brands — #Patagonia.

Brands symbolize the relationships consumers have with companies and their products and services. Now, Open Brands is providing a way to watch and track that relationship. By monitoring these Brand Channels, as Open Brands calls them, Savvy brand owners will work with this information to maintain and improve the relationship they have with their customers in real time. Pretty cool!

 

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PTO Shortens Time of First OA

Insight April 06, 2010

On Thursday, June 4, 2009 the USPTO reduced its goal for “trademark pendency” to two months. “TM Pendency” determines how large of an inventory of unprocessed applications the USPTO should keep at any given time. The time frame discussed in relation to pendency is the time that it takes the PTO to issue a First Office Action (“OA”) from the application filing date.

The PTO TM Public Advisory Committee (“TPAC”) stated that the previous goal had been 2.5-3.5 months (for issuance of the initial OA). However, as a practicing trademark attorney, I’d say that OAs most commonly issue 3-4 months after the filing date.

I presume that most clients will be pleased with a shortened examination period, as most clients want their applications to issue as quickly as possible. The clients who will be negatively impacted by hastened examination are Intent to Use clients who sometimes have trouble brining their products and services to fruition as quickly as they initially hoped.

It will be interesting to see if the PTO meets its new goals and if so, how this effects the speed of the registration process overall.

 

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2009 LOHAS Forum

Insight March 30, 2010

On Thursday, June 4, 2009 the USPTO reduced its goal for “trademark pendency” to two months. “TM Pendency” determines how large of an inventory of unprocessed applications the USPTO should keep at any given time. The time frame discussed in relation to pendency is the time that it takes the PTO to issue a First Office Action (“OA”) from the application filing date.

The PTO TM Public Advisory Committee (“TPAC”) stated that the previous goal had been 2.5-3.5 months (for issuance of the initial OA). However, as a practicing trademark attorney, I’d say that OAs most commonly issue 3-4 months after the filing date.

I presume that most clients will be pleased with a shortened examination period, as most clients want their applications to issue as quickly as possible. The clients who will be negatively impacted by hastened examination are Intent to Use clients who sometimes have trouble brining their products and services to fruition as quickly as they initially hoped.

It will be interesting to see if the PTO meets its new goals and if so, how this effects the speed of the registration process overall.

 

 

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Kraft’s Advice to Law Firms

Insight Yaacov P. Silberman Yaacov P. Silberman · March 28, 2010

What does the General Counsel of a Fortune 100 company want from a law firm?  In the case of one former GC – Theodore Banks of Kraft Foods – the answer is printed in black and white.  The ABA’s 2004 publication, “Marketing Success Stories” edited by Weishar and Smiley begins with an essay by Mr. Banks titled What We Wish We Could Get from  a Law Firm, or, Hot to Make Us Fall in Love Again.

The advice propounded by Mr. Banks is entirely commonsensical.  But it is only in recent years, if not months, that “innovative” law firms are touting their adoption of the practices that in-house counsel has wanted all along.

Bypassing the more obvious (but still sage) recommendations, here’s a summary of what one General Counsel recommends to outside counsel trying to get his business.

Getting The Client

  • Firms need to distinguish themselves.  Oftentimes law firms cannot adequately answer the question, “Why should I hire you instead of someone else?”  Using vague generalities to answer this question is insufficient.  A firm must prove its capabilities for “high-quality, cost-effective service” in any relevant areas.  Rimon Law Group’s co-founder mused once that he found it odd when law firms tout that they are ranked third for this or that practice area.  As a General Counsel, my reply might be, “can you introduce me to numbers one and two?”
  • Ditch the Picasso. While adequate overhead is expected, a firm that spends a lot of money on glass buildings or fancy artwork might suggest the firm is padding its bills to pay for unnecessary overhead.  In-house counsel would rather their lawyer buy a tasteful poster and pass the savings on to them.
  • Do what you can to get in the door.  While a company might not be willing to try out a new firm on a billion dollar litigation, they might roll the dice on a smaller, more discrete matter.  Firms might offer new clients to work on a matter at a discounted rate, showing all along what it would cost at the usual rate, to gain a client’s trust and to expose them to the firm.

In these three categories, I’m proud that Rimon Law Group rises above the competition.  More than most, they understand what a real brand identity means to the firm.  In the case of Rimon, we place the focus on lawyers with greater experience operating in an ultra-efficient environment and an assurance of predictable fees to our clients.  We’ve also acted creatively to address new clients’ needs in order to expose them to our non-traditional way of doing business.  This often comes at a cost but we’re building durable relationships in the process.

Next week, I’ll discuss Mr. Banks’s advice for keeping existing clients and also do a self-evaluation of Rimon’s practices in the areas of Listening, Communication, Billing, Staffing and Fees.

Stay tuned.

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How to Maintain Corporations and LLCs

Insight Michael Moradzadeh Michael Moradzadeh · March 19, 2010

Forming an LLC or a corporation is an important first step to achieving tax benefits and protection from liability.  In order to preserve these important benefits, however,  it is very important that your company is maintained properly. Otherwise, you run the risk that the separate nature of your company will be ignored by the IRS or a court of law.   While there is no substitution for the sound advice of experienced counsel, a few simple steps will help ensure that you reap the benefits of your LLC or corporation for as long as they exist. The minimum requirements for maintaining corporations and LLCs is that they must:  1) maintain adequate capitalization; 2) keep clean financial and legal records; and 3) be treated as separate and distinct from its owners.

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One Tribe Creative mktg tips from BALLE Conference

Insight March 09, 2010

I am in Denver, Colorado for the 7th Annual (yet my first) BALLE Conference. BALLE is the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies. BALLE’s Mission is to build Local Living Economies in North America that foster vibrant communities, a healthy natural environment, and prosperity for all. This is done through:

Catalyzing, strengthening, and connecting networks of locally owned independent businesses

Providing education and community economic development tools; and

Developing and promoting public policies that enable Local Living Economies to thrive

Paul Jensen from One Tribe Creative of Ft. Collins, CO offered a breakout session full of helpful tips for marketing local (and other) socially and environmentally responsible organizations and businesses. Of these, I found the following most helpful: (1) A brand really is others’ perception of your organization — it’s the relationship that your community has with you; and (2) branding is the way in which you tell your story, which you must do continually to thrive.

Paul used the Be Local Northern Colorado campaign that One Tribe worked on to demonstrate several ways in which an organization can brand themselves locally in order to showcase and increase the value they offer to their community. Gailmarie Kimmel, the Co-E.D. of Be Local Northern CO also shared her experiences with the branding of her BALLE network.

What a refreshing way to conclude a great conference!

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