Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

New York Business Litigation Blog

What is breach of fiduciary duty in New York?

When a party has a legal obligation to act in the best interest of another party - or parties - this obligation is known as a fiduciary duty. The relationship that creates a fiduciary duty is often referred to as a fiduciary relationship. For example, a business partnership creates a fiduciary relationship among the partners, and each partner, therefore, owes a fiduciary duty - an obligation to act in the best interests of the other partners and the partnership itself - to the other partners. If a partner fails to uphold this obligation, they may have breached their fiduciary duty, which can sometimes lead to disruptive business litigation.

Fiduciary duties typically arise from contractual or other legal relationships. Apart contracts, statutes and the actions of parties can also give rise to fiduciary obligations. Most commonly, a fiduciary duty derives from a situation in which one party is in a position of extreme trust with respect to another party. Examples include an attorney and his client, a board member and her corporation, or an accounting firm and their client.

Protect your intellectual property in New York

Manhattan is a hotbed for ideas. Major corporations have trade secrets they want to keep close, tech startups need to trademark their names and logos and all manner of creatives, from playwrights to authors, have original works for which they'd like to retain the rights. Broadly speaking, all these concepts are known collectively as intellectual property. And fortunately, you can protect it.

Intellectual property is something that begins as an intangible idea, such as song lyrics, lines of computer code, a list of customers, a formula, or a logo idea. Once put in a tangible form, such intellectual property can be protected, so that others are prevented from using it or holding out the work as their own. The type of protection available to the owner of intellectual property varies by the type of work that they wish to protect.

How does one register a copyright in New York?

Copyright law affords the creators of original forms of material expression - such as written works, films, and recorded performance - exclusive use and ownership in their own works. It also provides penalties for those who attempt to profit from another's original material without the permission of the copyright holder. This particular form of intellectual property protection is key to ensuring that those engaged in creative works are rewarded for their originality.

A copyright exists as soon as it becomes fixed in a tangible form, as when paint is laid onto canvas or musical notes are written on paper or saved to hard drive. While registration of a copyright is not required for protection, it helps to make a case easier to prove if an infringement occurs. Infringement is act of violating another's copyright by profiting from their work without permission or attempting to pass off the work of another as one's own.

3 reasons business partnerships struggle

Business partnerships are just like any important interpersonal relationship – they require attention and care to thrive. Unfortunately, many partners can fall into traps that sour the relationship and even create a toxic work environment. This can lead to costly disputes and dissolution of the partnership.

Here are three common reasons these relationships become strained and how partners can overcome them.

Beyoncé: Trademark dispute is mere profiteering

A brand's intellectual property - including the brand's name, itself - can be be extremely valuable. In cases where the look and feel of a logo or even the words used in the name of one brand are too similar to those used by another, a dispute can arise. Disputes can be expensive, wasting a lot of a brand's time and resources. This is why it is important to protect a brand's intellectual property through all available legal devices, such as trademark protection.

Over the past year, Beyoncé has been involved in just such a dispute with the owner of an event planning business called Blue Ivy Company. The singer attempted to register her daughter's name, Blue Ivy Carter, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Beyoncé said that she wanted to use the name for ventures in fashion and beauty, while preventing others from trying to exploit her daughter's identity.

How a non-compete agreement can protect a New York business

When someone in New York starts a business, they put a lot of effort into making sure it is successful. Often businesses rely on employees like sales personnel, product developers or even chefs, to build up a business. Such employees, however, usually have access to proprietary business information. Proprietary business information can include customer lists, trade secrets like recipes or product formulas, or other intellectual property. If an employee with such information leaves the business, there is always the possibility that that business's proprietary information could fall into the hands of a competitor.

One way business owners -- and employees -- can protect themselves and avoid expensive employment litigation is through the use of non-compete agreements. A non-compete agreement is a contract that an employer enters into with an employee. In such an agreement, the employee generally pledges not to use or disclose any proprietary information to which she or he has access to in order to compete with the business in the event the employee goes to work elsewhere.

What are severance agreements and how do they work?

Many New Yorkers have been hearing good news from employers recently: "You're hired!" Although this is often a cause for celebration, both employees and employers usually have some things to sort out before the big first day of work. Often one of these things is negotiating a severance agreement. A severance agreement provides employees with money or other benefits under certain circumstances when they leave the company. This blog post will provide some essential information about severance agreements.

Severance agreements provide an outgoing employee with additional compensation when they leave an employer under conditions provided for in the agreement. These agreements are agreed to and signed beforehand. For example, in a severance agreement the employee may agree not to sue the employer for wrongful termination in exchange for receiving the additional compensation.

The Lanham Act could help businesses combat unfair competition

Advertising is an ever-present thing in Manhattan. Everyone knows that ads almost always put their subjects in the best light possible. Still, it seems unfair when an advertisement makes false claims about either its own product or a competitor's product. Is there anything a competitor can do when this happens? One option they may have is to pursue a lawsuit against the company under federal unfair competition law.

The Lanham Act is one law that addresses unfair competition. The Lanham Act is a federal law that allows business competitors to sue advertisers for false advertising. For example, take the case of a product's manufacturer that falsely makes claims about the product's environmental friendliness relative to a competitor's product. The competitor could file suit against the manufacturer under the Lanham Act. If the competitor proves its case, it could force the manufacturer to stop making the claims. The manufacturer would have the opportunity to defend itself and prove that it was not making false claims.

Blockchain technology and the future of intellectual property

You may be familiar with Bitcoin and other “cryptocurrencies.” These are new ways of storing and transferring value which do not rely on a centralized bank account, but rather on a new technology which verifies the value without a bank account to verify the money.

That distributed technology is called “blockchain,” and it is considered secure for all transactions even without a central clearing point like a bank. That same technology is being used to supply and manage intellectual property on the internet, making it much harder to copy and steal information and art with legitimate copyrights.

We provide legal guidance for shareholder disputes and more

New York business owners know that it just isn't always possible to see eye-to-eye with everyone all the time. Whether it's customers, vendors or even partners, people often have different ways of seeing things. And there are other parties that corporations sometimes disagree with, namely their shareholders. While it is often possible to work out disagreements informally through discussion and negotiation, it isn't always possible all the time.

Last month we told you about a disagreement a theme park owner was having with its shareholders. The shareholders argued that the theme park owner misled them about the impact of some negative publicity that the theme park owner experienced several years ago. The shareholders said that they purchased shares in response to the allegedly misleading comments, and they said they lost money after the true nature of the impact became known and share prices plummeted as a result.