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New Jersey Business Law Blog

Do you need to register your trademark?

As a business owner in New Jersey, you may wonder if you need to register the trademark that you use to distinguish your company with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office in order to establish and protect your intellectual property rights. According to FindLaw, the answer is no; legitimate use of a trademark affords it legal protection even without registration. If there is a legal dispute over an unregistered trademark, the court is likely to grant you the rights to it if you can prove that you used it first in commerce. 

While registering your trademark is not a legal requirement, it may be a good idea because registering offers you additional advantages. For one thing, it gives you the right to use the registered trademark symbol as a deterrent against infringement. If you do not register your trademark, the symbol that you use to declare it is different.

How can you avoid contract disputes?

New Jersey business owners like you, especially those who have smaller sized businesses, likely have some concerns about contracts. After all, it only takes a little bit of time in the industry to see that contract disputes can be time-consuming and extremely costly. So how can you avoid them?

FindLaw takes a look at ways to avoid litigation in construction. However, the principles here apply pretty universally to any business owner or situation in which a contract is necessary to conduct business. A lot of them revolve around the creation of a contract itself. For example, you should always get everything in writing due to the somewhat unreliable nature of human memory. Any contract changes should be formalized immediately, and the contract should be read thoroughly by all parties.

What exactly is breach of contract?

As a New Jersey business owner, you likely deal with contracts on a daily basis. You deal with your customers, your suppliers, your distributors, even your landlord by means of contracts.

Ideally, all of your contracts exist in written form and spell out in sufficient detail what both parties will do and not do to fulfill the contracts. This makes them easier to enforce should the other party breach the contract.

Why do some avoid using the term "Super Bowl"?

You may have noticed that businesses, and even some ordinary citizens, in New Jersey have become increasingly coy about using the term "Super Bowl" to refer to the sporting event that took place last Sunday, preferring vague appellations such as "The Big Game." Why does the name of the game seem to have become taboo?

First of all, you should know that if you are an ordinary citizen using the term to describe a particular sporting event in a context unrelated to business, you are completely at liberty to use the term "Super Bowl" in speech or writing. According to Vox, the principle of nominative fair use applies to informative applications such as this that do not imply official sponsorship of the event. 

Copyright suit over gambling guide settled in New Jersey

Although legal sports betting in the United States is still in its infancy, people gambling in New Jersey made $1.24 million worth of bets during the latter part of 2018, according to figures that gambling regulators in the state recently released. An attempt to capitalize on this gaming enthusiasm led to a copyright infringement lawsuit against 10-year-old bookmaking company FanDuel by British-based rival William Hill, regarding guides teaching people how to place a bet.

In July 2018, FanDuel began circulating a "how to bet" guide at the Meadowlands Racetrack. The lawsuit alleges that it was practically a word-for-word copy of a similar guide that William Hill offered at the Monmouth Park Racetrack during the previous month. FanDuel allegedly copied not only text from William Hill's guide but figures and diagrams as well. In one instance, FanDuel allegedly cut and pasted text directly from the William Hill guide into its own without bothering to remove its competitor's name.

Safeguard your company by understanding workplace discrimination

Keeping employees happy while conducting business activities can be a difficult balance for any employer. While employment laws exist to protect employees from workplace discrimination, sometimes employees feel as though they’ve been discriminated against.

Three women recently reported alleged gender discrimination in the Atlantic County prosecutor’s office.  The allegations of the lawsuit include job demotion, pay differential and lack of attention to harassment reports.

Important details for NDAs

It is not uncommon for companies in New Jersey to find themselves in a position where they must share sensitive business information with third parties. These third parties might be distributors, suppliers, partners, vendors and even employees. In some cases, if the information sharing is not allowed, essential business functions may suffer. In order to facilitate these functions while still protecting companies, nondisclosure agreements are commonly created.

As explained by Forbes, it is important to clearly identify what information is deemed confidential and is therefore covered by the terms of the nondisclosure agreement, or confidentiality agreement as it may also be referred to. Despite any temptation, the definition of the confidential information should be as focused and narrow as possible to avoid any ability that it may be misinterpreted. Such misinterpretation could pave the way for a dispute down the road unnecessarily so the upfront clarity is in everyone's best interest.

Fashion focus of intellectual property lawsuit

Most people in New Jersey have seen their fair share of knock-off clothing items, handbags, sunglasses and more. Some of these things are found in obscure places and others are found in more mainstream stores. Regulating and defending intellectual property rights in the world of fashion, it seems, can be difficult. 

As explained by The Vox, copyrights or trademarks associated with creative works may well be easier to defend than those associated with manufacturing. To some people, fashion may fall in the former category but in the business sector, it is clearly in the world of manufacturing. For this reason, companies that want to protect their trademarks or other distinguishing features can endure great challenges.

What can you do if you receive a copyright infringement notice?

If your New Jersey business receives a copyright infringement notice, it is imperative that you act swiftly but not irrationally. A copyright infringement notice may seem scary, but more often than not, the remedy is as simple as paying an after-the-fact fee and/or ceasing to use the copyrighted material. However, before you act, it is important to analyze the claim, make sure it is legitimate and explore your legal options.

The World Intellectual Property Organization defines copyright infringement as the use of protected work by someone or some entity that does not own the rights to the property. The property can be a book, a photograph, a song, an article or an asset of similar nature. By law, you cannot make copyrighted property publicly available without the permission of the party that holds the copyright. 

Nicoll Davis & Spinella Supports the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce's Winter Gala

On December 8, 2018, the Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of NJ hosted their second annual Winter Gala at the Legacy Castle in Pompton Plains, NJ. The event kicked off with a beautiful cocktail reception followed by an awards presentation honoring the remarkable contributions made by business, civic and community leaders. The Winter Gala was the culmination of a busy and successful year for the SHCCNJ. Nicoll Davis & Spinella is not only proud to have been an event sponsor, but also to serve as Outside General Counsel for the Chamber this past year.

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