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New Jersey Business Law Blog

Trademark dispute over food-centered event

Many people in New Jersey may be well aware that companies work hard to protect their trademarks as these intellectual property holdings can be important assets to a business or an organization. What may not be as well known is the vast range of things for which trademarks are held and therefore guarded. A case that was recently settled between two nonprofit event organizers in two different states shows a bit about this.

As reported in the New Jersey Herald, the dispute focused on a trademark said to be held by each of the event organizers. The event is centered around a potato dumpling known as a pierogi which has its roots in Polish culture. In the town of Whiting, Indiana, a festival has been held every year since 1995 celebrating pierogis and using the name Pierogi Fest. According to the man who chairs this festival, the use of the trademark has been granted to other organizers over the years after they sought permission.

Is your business adopting harassment training for the #MeToo era?

The #MeToo movement should not be ignored in the business world. The campaign has organizations rethinking how they handle sexual harassment prevention in the workplace. A culture shift is happening, and women are speaking out against behavior they may have brushed aside in the past. Is your company prepared for this new office environment?


Paid sick leave act to take effect this fall

Businesses in New Jersey know that there are many laws, some federal and some state, that they must comply with. Some of these laws pertain to employee rights and fair treatment and can become part of how a company takes care of its people and creates a strong company culture. In recent years, the subject of paid leave from work has become a hot topic across the country. Until just recently, only the District of Columbia and nine states have passed legislation requiring employers to provide some form of paid leave to their workers.

Now, however, there are 10 states in addition to the District of Columbia that have laws in place regarding paid leave from work. As reported by, the Governor of New Jersey recently signed into law the New Jersey Earned Sick and Safe Days Act which will go into effect this autumn on October 30.

Sweeping Consumer Privacy Law Passes California Legislature

Amidst recent scandals and breaches in large tech giants, the California legislature has passed the nation's strictest data privacy law which will allow consumers to have control over their personal data The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 (CCPA), which passed on June 28, 2018, will go into effect on January 1, 2020. The Act is similar to, but not as restrictive as the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), and provides consumers a variety of rights with regard to how covered businesses use their personal data. These new rights include:

The road to an IPO

Privately held companies in New Jersey who are considering making the switch to being publicly held often make this leap because of the public funding that would then become available to them. In short, an initial public offering is a capital-raising event and while it can be extremely lucrative it does bring with it some changes and new things that executives need to learn.

As explained by Financial Executives International, the process of going public requires that company management get started at least one year prior to when they believe they will hold their IPO. Among the first things the business should look to do is to get a good executive team in place. Having people in these positions who have had experience at a public company may also be valuable and should be kept in mind when recruiting new personnel.

Exercise caution before applying for a patent

Entrepreneurs and inventors in New Jersey may naturally find the thought of owning one or many patents attractive for them personally as well as professionally. While there are certainly benefits to seeking a patent for a new invention, there may well be times when it is not in the best interest of the inventor or the company. Before attempting to receive a patent, people should consider a few key facts.

As explained by Forbes, some people think that once they have a patent that they are essentially safe from competition. This is not really true. Instead of thinking about what a patent might prevent others from doing, it is best to think of a patent as something that gives the holder the right to take action against another company if it in any way violates the patent. Also important to know is that a single patent cannot provide global protections but can only offer protection within the jurisdiction of the granting organization. Worldwide protection would require patents to be achieved in multiple countries individually.

Are oral contracts enforceable?

Most would likely advise that any business transactions conducted in Paramus be handled professionally. For many, "professionally" likely means through negotiation, in writing and (if necessary) with the added assistance of legal counsel. However, due to the unique nature of your business (or your own personal beliefs and values), you still might see the value in a handshake agreement. While such trust between business partners may help to build brand loyalty, it can also be a source of stress if issues ever arise in your attempts to enforce your agreements. 

This brings up the question of if oral contracts are enforceable. New Jersey state law actually only lists a few types of contractual agreements that must be in writing. According to the state's Statute of Frauds, the only of these types that might apply to business are cases involving loans in excess of $100,000 or agreements by creditors to forgo their rights to seek legal remedies based on an agreement with a debtor. Any other type of contract (whether it be written or verbal) is enforceable. 

Breath test device manufacturer cites IP concerns

People who own or operate companies in New Jersey that must carefully guard their intellectual property know how difficult this can be at times. In some situations, there may even develop a situation in which other interests may appear to compete with the desire and need to protect intellectual property rights. One example of this can be seen in a multi-year dispute between researchers and a manufacturer of drunk driving breath test devices that continues today.

The company, based in Germany, did at one point provide its source code for a device for review in one particular legal case that was said to have included a protective order from the court. Researchers were tasked with reviewing the code to determine the accuracy or potential inaccuracy of the device. Results of their investigations were to be allowed to be published but with some parameters designed to protect the manufacturer's business.

What you cannot consider when hiring an employee

Sorting through a stack of resumes can be overwhelming. There may be many candidates that seem qualified, but you are worried they will not be a good fit for the company. Or maybe someone seems highly intelligent, but he or she lacks experience. It may seem impossible to know how to make the right choice. Certainly, there must be another way to narrow the field. Be careful. You may be stumbling into murky territory.

Protecting your trademarks

Companies in New Jersey that have trademarks should have a clear understanding of what a trademark protection provides them and how they can and should effectively enforce or defend those marks. Perhaps one of the biggest misconceptions that many businesses and people have is that the United States Patent and Trademark Office will actually proactively protect a company's trademarks. That is not at all true.

The USPTO is the organization that accepts new applications for trademarks and that ultimately grants trademarks. They, however, do not take or hold any responsibility for enforcing those marks. Such responsibility belongs squarely on the shoulders of the companies that hold trademarks.

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