Trademarks serve as source indicators for distinguishing the goods sold by different manufacturers. Trade dress, a “symbol” or “device” by which the goods of a manufacturer may be distinguished from the goods of others, is registrable as a trademark if its function is to identify the source of the goods. Trade dress may be the total image of a product and may include features such as size, shape, color or color combinations, texture, graphics, or even particular sales techniques.

Continue Reading Color Combination and Design on Product Packaging Can Function as a a Trademark Federal Circuit Says

In cases of trademark infringement, it has long been debated whether infringers should be required to disgorge profits if they unknowingly violated intellectual property laws.

For decades, there was a wide variance on whether a trademark owner would be able to recover profits in litigation. While the Lanham Act (1946), the guiding trademark legislation, states that profits could be awarded “subject to the principles of equity,” there has not been consensus on how that should be applied. One particular sticking point?

Willfulness, or the voluntary, intentional violation of a known legal duty.

But last week, the Supreme Court provided much-needed clarity on this topic for courts, attorneys, and business owners when it ruled in favor of Romag Fasteners against Fossil Inc. The U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling on trademark infringement, stating that infringers can, in fact, be made to hand over profits to a brand owner even when the infringers have not willfully violated the law.

Continue Reading Where There Is No Will, There Is A Way: Willfulness Not A Requirement for Lanham Act Disgorgement of Profit Damages

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) contains significant changes to the 2020 required minimum distribution rules applicable to IRAs, 401(k)s, 403(b)s, and other similar Qualified Retirement Plans (collectively “QRPs”).

The CARES Act waives required minimum distributions from IRAs and QRPs for calendar year 2020. This change can result in income tax savings for owners of traditional IRAs and QRPs that are affected by this change.

Continue Reading 2020 Required Minimum Distributions from Retirement Accounts Have Been Waived

A common problem in many estates is the executor’s failure to promptly settle an estate or make distributions to the beneficiaries. Delays in settling an estate can have many causes, including inattention by an executor, failure to take action where required, and mismanagement. In some cases, the delays are a sign of more serious problems, such as self-dealing or an intent to deprive the beneficiaries of their inheritance.

If you are a beneficiary of an estate, you have a right to compel the executor to settle an estate and make distributions to you.

Continue Reading The Executor Won’t Distribute an Estate – What Can I Do?

Hair cuttery bankruptcyGovernment orders directing the shut-down of non-essential retailers, as a result of COVID-19, have forced another retail chain into bankruptcy. Creative Hairdressers, Inc. (“Creative”), the parent of Hair Cuttery, filed for Chapter 11 relief yesterday in the bankruptcy court for the District of Maryland. According to its first day filings, Creative is one of the largest independent, family owned chain of hair salons that provides comprehensive services for men and women.

Continue Reading Hair Cuttery Enters Chapter 11 Bankruptcy – Seeks to Trim 49 Locations

UPDATED on 4/24/2020

On April 23, 2020 Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program and Healthcare Enhancement Act to provide an additional $310 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA) Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

Continue Reading Paycheck Protection Program Update: More Relief Money on the Way for Small Businesses

Like most trying times, the Coronavirus brings out the best and worst. Unfortunately, criminals are targeting the federal stimulus money that has been distributed to qualified Americans. According to the FBI, scammers are leveraging the COVID-19 pandemic to steal victim’s money and personal information. There has been an alarming surge in the number of scam phone calls, text messages, social media scams, and emails. The FBI is receiving between 3,000 and 4,000, complaints a day through its internet portal.

Continue Reading Watch out for Coronavirus Scams

As I’ve stated in previous blog postings, business divorce or oppression cases usually end with one side buying the other out. Hence, valuation of the subject company is often one of the central issues in the case. Clearly, the coronavirus has negatively impacted a lot of closely held companies. Coronavirus has and will likely affect the valuation of the small businesses that are often ripe for disputes between the shareholders, partners, or members.

Continue Reading Coronavirus is Likely to Affect Business Valuations in Business Divorce Litigation