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Gene Markin is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Complex Commercial, Intellectual Property, and Cannabis Litigation Groups where he concentrates his practice on complex litigation matters involving copyright protection and infringement, trademark and trade dress infringement and enforcement, trade secret litigation, false advertising, domain name disputes, unfair competition, class actions, fraud and consumer fraud, shareholder and partner disputes, breach of contract, cannabis business disputes, cannabis intellectual property matters, cannabis insurance coverage claims, cannabis regulatory compliance, RICO actions, and state licensing agency appeals .

If you have any questions, please contact Gene Markin, Esq. at (609) 895-7248 or gmarkin@stark-stark.com.

Many people are either confused, do not know what to make of, or may even think it is a phishing expedition when a letter is received from their internet service provider (“ISP”) such as Comcast, Verizon, AT&T, CenturyLink, Spectrum, Frontier, Cox, Optimum, Earthlink, Viasat, Altice, etc., informing them of a lawsuit by STRIKE 3 HOLDINGS, LLC, which concerns the illegal downloading and uploading of copyrighted materials.

Continue Reading What to Do If You Get a Letter from Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) About a Subpoena to Turn Over Your Name and Address

“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.

Continue Reading Jerry Seinfeld’s Ex-Partner Time Barred in Copyright Dispute Over “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee”

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).


Continue Reading Drake Wins Big With Fair Use

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.

Continue Reading Tax Woes of the Cannabis Plant

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.


Continue Reading Booking Is Generic But Booking.Com Is A Registerable Trademark

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.

Continue Reading Is Zoom On The Verge Of Becoming A Generic Mark?

CBD is more common than ever these days, conveniently placed on your local corner store’s checkout aisle. But are they legal to purchase in your state? What about their names and logos, can they be federally registered as trademarks?

Continue Reading CBD May Be Legal, but Challenges Still Persist in Obtaining CBD Product Trademark Registration

Section 45 of the Lanham Act states a trademark is considered abandoned when “its use has been discontinued with intent not to resume such use.” Abandonment may be inferred from the surrounding circumstances, but proof of nonuse for three consecutive years is prima facie evidence of abandonment. Since use of a mark must be bona fide and registration cannot be used to reserve rights in a mark (apart from intent to use applications), a challenger seeking to cancel a registration on the basis of abandonment must either provide evidence of three consecutive years of nonuse or prove (1) the respondent discontinued use, and (2) the respondent intended not to resume use.

Continue Reading Proving Abandonment: How Trademark Rights Can Be Lost Through Non-Use

Copyright law affects one’s rights and ability to use another’s work, including writings, drawings, photographs, paintings, software codes, or even business plans. The purpose of copyright law is to promote the creation of works by giving authors exclusive property rights; copyright law is intended to encourage the dissemination of these works, bolstering a competitive marketplace.

Continue Reading What You and Your Business Need to Know About Copyright Law and Infringement

Earlier this month, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania confirmed social media platforms’ immunity under the Communications Decency Act (CDA) for right of publicity violations by users and members of the platforms. Several years ago, Karen Hepp, a newscaster for Fox 29 Philadelphia and co-host of Good Morning Philadelphia, discovered that her image, via a photograph unknowingly taken of her by a security camera in a New York City convenience store, was being used in conjunction with online advertisements for dating websites posted on Facebook. Additionally, the photo had been posted to Imgur and Reddit in several sexually explicit contexts. Not only did she never consent to having her image used for such purposes, she also was allegedly unaware that the photo had been taken in the first place.

Continue Reading The Communications Decency Act Protects Social Media Platforms Like Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit from Common Law Right of Publicity Violations