Arthur R. Lehman, L.L.C.

New York Business Litigation Blog

How long does one have to sue for copyright infringement?

Copyrights are useful to those in New York who have created a tangible work that is of value to them when they want to protect the work from being duplicated by another. Books, pieces of art, movies and television shows are all examples of works that might be copyrighted. However, there will always be those who infringe on another person's copyrighted work. When this happens, the person whose work was infringed upon may want to file a lawsuit. However, they only have a limited amount of time to do so.

Under the U.S. Copyright Act, when it comes to filing a lawsuit for copyright infringement, a person has three years after the accrual of the claim to file a lawsuit. Once the three years is up, a person generally can no longer file a claim. However, there are varying rules when it comes to determining when a claim begins to accrue.

A basic overview of unfair competition

In today's active business climate, staying competitive is more important than ever. Businesses in New York will want to make sure their advertising is effective and that their trademarks and trade secrets are protected. They will also want to increase their customer base and see an uptick in sales of their goods or services. All of these actions can lead to a profitable and successful business. However, sometimes, in pursuit of these goals, a business will either be accused of committing unfair competition or will claim it is the victim of unfair competition.

In very general terms, unfair competition exists when a business, for its own gain, deceives or misleads consumers or other businesses, causing the other business or consumers to suffer financial harm. Unfair competition is a business tort.

We help with Manhattan employment non-compete agreements

In the workplace, non-compete agreements are used by Manhattan employers to prevent employees from taking company secrets to a competitor. Many employers understandably want to keep their trade secrets confidential and don't want employees to be lured away by competitors wanting to get access to trade secrets. Still, many people think that non-compete agreements are being overused in the workplace.

A few weeks ago, we told you about efforts under way in many jurisdictions to restrict the use of non-compete agreements in the workplace. Non-compete agreements are fairly commonplace even among jobs that earn less than $15 per hour. Researchers determined that over 15 percent of low-wage workers are required to sign a non-compete agreement as a condition of employment. Many lawmaker say that these are unnecessary and unfair, as these workers probably do not have access to sensitive trade secrets.

When is artwork infringed upon in copyright?

While some items have clear copyrights, artwork can be a trickier subject area to identify and prove copyright infringement. The question of infringement has recently appeared with a prominent lawsuit between WWE wrestler Randy Orton’s tattoo artist Catherine Alexander and the WWE and video game publisher 2K Games.

Alexander claims that the WWE and 2K Games breached copyright laws using her distinctive tattoo designs in commercials and video games respectively. Orton is prominently featured in the commercials and video games along with detailed replications of his tattoos. But is this enough to count as copyright infringement?

Consideration is a key part of any business contract

In a prior blog post, we discussed how offer and acceptance is a key component of almost all legally enforceable New York contracts. In this blog post, we will discuss another key component: consideration.

Consideration is defined as a benefit one party to a contract is to get from another party in exchange for performing under the contract. For example, say a party agrees to provide consulting services to another party in exchange for $1,000. Under this contract, the first party has a duty to provide the services, and the money received is the consideration. The second party has a duty to pay $1,000, and the services are the consideration.

Non-compete agreements being debated in the U.S.

Many companies in the United States use non-compete agreements for their employees. These agreements have been around for a long time and are there to protect the company from losing its intellectual property to another company. But lawmakers are trying to put an end to non-compete agreements.

Even for workers who make under $15 hour, non-compete agreements are common. These agreements that affect not only multi-billion dollar deals, but also ordinary Americans, are used in every industry. Jimmy Johns, a sandwich delivery store, used to make their workers sign one saying they wouldn't work in another sandwich shop within two miles of one of its stores for two years. Over 15 percent of low wage workers have had to sign a noncompete agreement.

Target being sued for trademark infringement by Burberry

Intellectual property is important for many businesses. When there are suspected trademark infringements, it can hurt a company's brand. New York City is home to many creative people who generate new ideas, products and services. It is important that a company's trademarks are protected.

A recent lawsuit has emerged in which the iconic Burberry is suing Target for trademark infringement. Burberry alleges Target used their checkered print on water bottles, eyeglasses, luggage and scarves. The checkered print is one that Burberry has used since 1920 on their scarves and trench coats. Burberry sent Target a cease and desist letter in early 2017. Burberry states that the items Target had for sale were not approved by them and customers may believe that they were endorsed by Burberry. Burberry is asking for $2 million for each trademark violation along with damages.

Court: New York execs likely breached their fiduciary duties

New York corporate officers are supposed to act in the best interests of the corporation they lead. They have a fiduciary duty to their corporation and the corporation's shareholders. If a court finds that a corporate officer is not acting their corporation's best interest, the court can take steps including stopping a merger from taking place. A recent case here in Manhattan illustrates the duties officers have and what can happen if the duties are ignored.

On April 27, a judge blocked a shareholder vote on a proposed merger between Xerox Corp. and Fujifilm after finding that a conflict of interest existed that made it likely that Xerox's CEO and directors had committed a breach of fiduciary duty to Xerox's shareholders. The corporation was ordered to permit an alternative slate of directors to be nominated at a meeting next month.

What is offer and acceptance in New York contract law?

The contract is one of the fundamental concepts of business law in New York. Most businesses here make contracts and fulfill their terms in pursuit of success. If contracts are breached, there usually is some negotiation between the parties. If this negotiation isn't successful in resolving the contract dispute, litigation may result. Two important parts of any contract are offer and acceptance.

Offer and acceptance happens at the time of the formation of a contract. One of the parties will make an offer to the other. This offer can take any number of forms. These forms include delivery of a certain amount of goods for a certain price. It can also involve performing a service, such as constructing a building, in a certain time frame.

Grenade Beverage infringes Grumpy Cat trademark, loses

What started as a business-to-business contract in 2013, ended as an intellectual property infringement case filed in 2015 and settled finally in 2018. The owner of Grumpy Cat brand joined forces with a coffee maker called Grenade Beverage for a limited product offering based on the internet star who first appeared online in 2012 known as Grumpy Cat and owned by Tabatha Bundesen. However, Grenade launched other products beyond the scope of the original agreement, including a line of ground coffee, resulting in Grumpy Cat Limited's brand owner, Bundesen, filing a lawsuit for copyright and trademark infringement.

The suit awarded Bundesen $710,001 for copyright and trademark infringement of her trademarked Grump Cat.