Last week on our New York business litigation blog, we reviewed the case of a decades-old work of art whose ownership has been challenged in court. The high-profile intellectual property dispute served to illustrate important legal principles for our Manhattan readers. But some may be left wondering: is protection of intellectual property really something that your average artist or creative individual, who may be struggling just to get by, needs to worry about?
A complex lawsuit was filed last week in federal court in Manhattan. The suit stems from from an intellectual property dispute involving a work of art that lies at the center of a challenging set of legal circumstances.
Huge numbers of books, websites, musical pieces, promotional materials, performances, computer software and more are protected by the copyright laws of the United States. Many New York businesses have such works that they may wish to protect with copyright protection. But what is copyright protection?
Trademark law is one area of intellectual property law that involves huge numbers of people and companies. Not every Manhattan business person has a patent or a copyright, but many do have a trademark that represents their business in the eye of the public and that they wish to defend vigorously. Our readers should familiarize themselves with an introduction to trademark law.
It seems like people in New York these days have a myriad of ways in which to capture their artwork. Gone are the days when paintings were made on blank canvases and photographs were taken with film and later developed. Digital photos these days can be taken with a smartphone and shared on a variety of platforms. However, this could lead to legal issues, as one recent case shows.
When drawing up employment contracts, employers in New York naturally want to include provisions protecting their intellectual property. This is why many employment contracts limit the rights of employees to accept certain positions with certain other employers soon after leaving the employment of the contracting employer. Employees, on the other hand, may determine that these non-compete clauses are not enforceable or are not applicable to their specific circumstances.
New York-based Macy's Inc. has begun a lawsuit against its competitor, Burlington Stores, Inc., to prevent one of its former vice-presidents from working for Burlington. The complaint alleges that Burlington hired one of Macy's key executives to obtain access to its trade secrets and proprietary and confidential information. The executive has counter-sued Macy's to obtain a declaratory judgment that her employment contract with Macy's does not prevent her from working in her new position with Burlington.
With the proliferation of craft breweries in New York, and across the country, over the last decade, no one should be surprised by the recent dispute between two such breweries over their product names and trademarks. The case is unusual because the alleged trademark infringement involves several product names and product labels, rather than the usual one-to-one claim of infringement.
Unicorns, especially pink unicorns, are thought to be entirely creatures of mythology, but the marketing ploy of a Brooklyn coffee shop has transformed the one-horned beast into a trademark that is at the heart of an intellectual property lawsuit involving pink drinks, both named "Unicorn." The suit involves the local coffee shop and Starbucks, the giant coffee chain.
This blog has previously noted the steps that a trademark owner will take to protect the mark. But, what happens to the business that is forced to abandon a successful product name? A tomato sauce maker was recently compelled by a New York restaurant to pick another tradename for its products, but it has found a way to recover from this setback and continue to prosper.