Insight January 26, 2011
The NLRB created significant uncertainty regarding the appropriate scope of social media policies when it filed a complaint that alleges a company violated the National Labor Relations Act by terminating an employee for posting negative commernts about her supervisor on the employee's personal Facebook page.
Insight January 19, 2011
The SEC proposed rules which would require any company that uses "conflict minerals" from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to provide a detailed annual report to the SEC.
Insight January 14, 2011
The NLRB proposed a rule which would require all employers to post notices informing employees of their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
Insight Michael Moradzadeh · January 12, 2011
In Uniloc v. Microsoft, an appeals court issued a decision that may change how infringement damages are calculated by precluding the use of the "25 percent rule of thumb" which has been used to calculate damages in most patent cases for the past fifteen years. This decision marks an important step towards requiring patent plaintiffs to rigorously prove damages with facts connected to the value of the patented invention, and it is likely that future courts will more strictly scrutinize patent damages evidence.
News January 06, 2011
Insight December 22, 2010
In his speech before the 23RD Annual Institute on Current Issues in International Taxation in Washington, DC on December 9, 2010, IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman said that the IRS is “seriously considering” a new partial amnesty program for taxpayers who report secret offshore bank accounts.
Insight Yaacov P. Silberman · December 17, 2010
As we await the release of the FTC Green Guides, advertisers also should be aware of the BBB’S National Advertising Division (“NAD”) as a potential means for dispute resolution for false advertising claims.
News October 19, 2010
Insight August 23, 2010
The Federal Trade Commission ("FTC") was created in 1914 to regulate unfair trade practices. It issued its first set of Guides for the Use of Environmental Marketing Claims (commonly known as the Green Guides) under in 1992, which it then updated in 1996 and 1998. The Green Guides are meant to provide guidance to marketers so they can avoid making unfair and/or deceptive environmental advertising claims. Imagine that! Technically, the Green Guides informally interpret Section 5 of the FTC Act (15 U.S.C. §§ 41-58) ("The Act"), which governs unfair and/or deceptive advertising claims, including claims about environmental benefits and practices. Essentially, the Guides are a play book for how to stay out of trouble with the FTC.
Insight August 10, 2010
Pipe dreams of trademark protection for marijuana go up in smoke . . .
On April 20, 2010 the USPTO issued a federal service mark registration to Sunny Chan d/ba Good Leaf Collective for the mark GOOD LEAF COLLECTIVE for "Retail store and on-line retail store services featuring medical marijuana". Ironically (and probably much to the delight of Mr. Chan), April 20 is a counter-culture holiday amongst marijuana users. Unfortunately for Mr. Chan and the nearly 100 other applicants who are waiting for the USPTO to issue registrations for their marijuana related products and services, on July 20, 2010 the PTO had a change of heart and the applicant's pipe dreams may have gone up in smoke.
On July 20, 2010, the USPTO sent Mr. Chan a letter informing him that his federal service mark registration was issued mistakenly and has since been canceled. The letter continues to state that Mr. Chan's application has been restored to pendency and the file returned to the Examining Attorney to issue a refusal.
In a related twist, the USPTO publishes a Manual of Acceptable Identifications of Goods and Services on its website for use by federal trademark registration applicants . According to a July 19, 2010 WSJ article, on April 1, 2010 the PTO approved an ID for "Processed plant matter for medicinal purposes, namely medical marijuana". The USPTO offers a public service whereby applicants (or their counsel) can suggest IDs to be added to the manual. I have used this service many times to assist clients in the sustainabiltiy space get their innovative product and service descriptions pre-approved by the PTO. Apparently, someone suggested the medicinal marijuana ID, which the PTO approved given that there are fifteen states in which medical marijuana is legal (AK, CA, CO, DC, HI, ME, MI, MO, NV, NJ, NM, OR, RI, VT, WA). The addition of marijuana to the manual apparently created a rush on the PTO with several new applications filed for marijuana and marijuana related products and services. Apparently, the marijuana ID was removed in mid-July admist questions from the Wall Street Journal about its prudence.
Thus, for now, legal medical marijuana growers and purveyors will have to rely on common law rights, or use broader categories in their trademark applications -- such as dried plants or agricultural seeds -- to protect their trademarks nationwide.