On July 14, 2020, the Supreme Court of New Jersey issued an order authorizing several steps to support the resumption of landlord/tenant cases during the COVID-19 crisis. The good news is that the procedures allow for resumption of adjudication. The bad news is that there still could be a delay/lag in getting a tenant out. The following is a brief discussion and some practical pointers for commercial landlords.
Living in the time of COVID-19 has heightened everyone’s anxiety. With all of the uncertainties in life, implementing estate planning documents that provide for you and your family can afford some level of relief. Estate planning documents allow you to designate agents to assist with your affairs, while providing structure to assist loved ones as they navigate through turbulent situations. Working with an attorney can help to address questions you will have about your estate plan and will offer personal guidance through this process.
Ascena Retail Group, Inc., the parent of the Ann Taylor, Lane Bryant, Lou & Grey and LOFT retail chains, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Thursday, July 23, 2020 in the Eastern District of Virginia, docket # 20-33113. According to MarketWatch, the New Jersey-based company expects to reduce debt to become profitable. Ann Taylor, Loft, Lane Bryant and other chains will continue to operate through the restructuring with about 95% of stores open, while the company reduces its footprint.
“The Second Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a dismissal of untimely copyright infringement claims that an ex-partner brought against Jerry Seinfeld over the hit series “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”. Charles v. Seinfeld, 803 F. App’x 550 (2d Cir. 2020). Plaintiff Christian Charles brought suit claiming ownership over the pilot episode of the show “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee” that he and his production company helped develop back in 2011.
Drake scored a big win as the Second Circuit affirmed his use of another work in one of his songs as “fair use.” Estate of Smith v. Graham, 799 F. App’x 36 (2d Cir. 2020). The original lawsuit alleged Drake violated a copyright by sampling a 1982 word recording, “Jimmy Smith Rap,” in his own song, “Pound Cake.”
In April 2014, the estate of Jimmy Smith filed suit against Drake, alleging infringement of the copyright of “Jimmy Smith Rap.” It is worthwhile to note that Drake had actually obtained a license to the sound recording, but not the composition. In 2017, the District Court ruled that the portion of “Jimmy Smith Rap” used in Drake’s song was fair use because Drake’s objective was “sharply different from the [original artist’s goals] in creating it.” Estate of Smith v. Cash Money Records, 253 F. Supp. 3d 737, 750 (S.D.N.Y. 2017).
The 16th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that, “Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived…”. According to § 162 of the Internal Revenue Code, businesses are generally allowed to deduct from their adjusted gross income the ordinary and necessary expenses they incur in carrying on their business. 26 U.S.C. § 162. One pesky provision in the Internal Revenue Code, § 280E, disallows these business expense deductions “if such trade or business (or the activities which comprise such trade or business) consists of trafficking in controlled substances (within the meaning of schedule I and II of the Controlled Substances Act) which is prohibited by Federal law or the law of any State in which such trade or business is conducted.” 26 U.S.C. § 280E. Because marijuana is still illegal at the federal level under the Controlled Substances Act, according to § 280E, businesses that are engaged in the growing, manufacturing, or sale of marijuana are not entitled to deduct their ordinary and necessary business expenses from their adjusted gross income under § 162.
On June 30, 2020, Justice Ginsburg, writing for the Supreme Court, concluded that the addition of “.com” to a generic mark can be sufficient to elevate the mark beyond genericism and trigger federal trademark protection.
Previously, Booking.com was denied federal trademark recognition on the basis that it was a generic term, signifying a class of online hotel-reservation services rather than a particular brand or service of that class. Both the examining attorney and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) concluded that the term “Booking.com” was generic for the services it provided and was therefore unregistrable. The TTAB, the PTO Appeal Board, analyzed the two components of the mark separately, concluding that “Booking” represented a generic term that was indicative of making travel reservations; and adding “.com” did not enhance the distinctiveness of the mark, it merely represented that the service is located on a commercial website. Booking.com sought review in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia, where that court relied on evidence of the consuming public’s understanding of the mark in determining that Booking.com met the distinctiveness requirement for trademark registration. The PTO did not appeal the District Court’s determination of how consumers perceived the term “Booking.com”, and instead only appealed that court’s holding that the mark was not generic.
The videoconferencing platform Zoom has become a ubiquitous part of the new normal and an integral part of American life during the recent coronavirus pandemic. With such widespread adoption at an exponential pace, does the brand risk becoming a generic term like Aspirin, Elevator, and Thermos? Or will the brand be able to hold on to its trademarked ground like Kleenex, Band-Aid and Xerox, which are still legally protected trademarks even though they are frequently used as generic terms.
In recent weeks, the Administrative Office of the Courts has released its statistics, and the news is not surprising. The courts in New Jersey are facing an unprecedented backlogs, and the Family Court has been hit particularly hard.
For those facing divorce, custody issues, post judgment issues, or any family matter, there are alternatives to consider.
As you may already be aware, Stark & Stark has assisted countless investment advisers with regulatory, legal, and compliance matters over the past thirty plus years. We have assisted our clients with registration issues, preparing policies and procedures, interpreting and advising on new rules and regulations, avoiding and defending litigation, and serving as counselors. We look forward to continuing to be able to serve our clients in this manner for countless more years to come.