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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.

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

Kristel Oreto, a Philly tattoo artist, acquired nearly one million fans and followers on social media platforms Facebook and Instagram. Her following is thanks in large part to her inspiring story of weight loss, which she detailed along the way. Over the course of several years, Oreto shed more than 120 pounds and 14 dress sizes through extensive dieting and exercising. Throughout her journey, she posted numerous before-and-after photos in order to document her achievements and in hopes of inspiring others.

Continue Reading Fake News: Facebook Reaches Settlement for Infringing Ads

The Copyright Act grants protection for “original works of au­thorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression,” and aims to protect a creator’s proprietary interests in his expressive works. 17 U. S. C. §102(a). Traditionally, the Copyright Act provided protection for books, maps, prints, engravings, musical and dramatic compositions, photo­graphs, and works of art. The modern day Act protects works of authorship including website text, pantomimes, sculptural works, motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings, and architectural works.

Continue Reading Supreme Court Strikes Down Pay-Per-Law Copyright: Copyright Protection Not Available for Annotations to State Law If Commissioned by Officers With Legislative Authority

Under, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (RICO), it is illegal “for any person through a pattern of racketeering activity… to acquire or maintain…any interest in or control of any enterprise which is engaged in, or the activities affect, interstate of foreign commerce”. Because marijuana remains illegal under the federal Controlled Substances Act, state-legal marijuana businesses, by definition, involve racketeering activity in violation of RICO. When the government employs RICO against a defendant, the prosecution must prove, under 18 U.S.C. § 1962, that a person: (i) through the commission of two or more acts (ii) constituting a pattern of racketeering activity (iii) directly or indirectly invested in, maintained an interest in, or participated in, an enterprise, (iv) the activities of which affected interstate or foreign commerce. In addition to criminal liability, RICO also provides a civil cause of action for a party injured by the racketeering activity; in a civil RICO claim, a plaintiff must prove the elements, an injury to property or business, and proximate cause.

Continue Reading RICO Liability for Marijuana Enterprises

Last July, a jury ruled that Katy Perry and her co-writers had plagiarized the Christian rap song Joyful Noise by Marcus “Flame” Gray in Perry’s creation of the 2013 hit Dark Horse; Perry was ordered to pay a $2.8 million penalty. The jury verdict was met with wide criticism; one songwriter emphasized that despite the similarities, no one person should be able to own the musical elements as they represent “fundamental aspects of pop music”.[1] The New York Times framed the debate centered around verdicts like the one reached as a “penalty for making use of generic musical elements, like a song’s beats and feel”.[2] Perry and the Dark Horse creative team appealed the ruling, and on March 17, 2020, the Central District of California overturned the jury verdict, relying on the Ninth Circuit’s en banc Led Zeppelin decision.

Continue Reading Good News for Pop Singers Katy Perry & Ed Sheeran: Copyright Does Not Protect Musical Building Blocks

Even though the Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”) has come out against the sale of CBD-infused foods and dietary supplements, a cursory search for “CBD” on Amazon reveals a plethora of hemp extract and hemp oil products, including gummies, tinctures, creams, and capsules. Because of the FDA’s prohibition on the sale of CBD-infused foods and beverages and the recent shift in federal law to legalize hemp and hemp products, manufacturers and marketers alike have latched on to the buzzwords “hemp” and “hemp extract” to sell CBD products. But, from a consumer’s perspective, what is the difference between a 1000mg, 50,000mg, and a 400,000mg product? Most likely, not a whole lot.

Continue Reading The Labeling Paradox: Navigating Between Hemp, Hemp Extract, and CBD Products