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Orange County Business Litigation and Legal Malpractice Law Blog

How customer confusion plays a role in trademark infringement

With most companies, it isn't the product or service itself that makes them successful -- it is their intellectual property and how the company protects it. A trademark is one of the most important parts of the business's intellectual property, because it establishes your certified brand and it conveys to the people that your business, your product, and your services are legitimate and trustworthy.

Now, some companies may try to pilfer that goodwill and expertise by making their company confusing similar. They could make a product that look like your product, or, in the case of a trademark infringement lawsuit, another company may try to use similar logos or names to your company.

What a patent does, and why patent types matter

Patents are incredibly useful for businesses and inventors who want to protect their inventions and products. A patent is a right granted by the federal government, protecting the patent holder from other people who want to profit from or reproduce the work that is covered in the patent.

Patents come in three types: utility patents, design patents and plant patents. Utility patents are very common, and they cover things such as machinery, chemicals and processes. Design patents relate to the appearance or design of a particular product. The sleek curves of a cellphone; the ornaments on a motor vehicle; the overall "look" of a product; these are things covered by a design patent.

What constitutes breach of contract and what happens afterwards?

No matter the reputation of a company and no matter how noble the intentions of a company, it is likely that at some point it will be involved in a contract dispute. Contract disputes often arise due to a breach of the contract. This occurs when provisions in the contract, which two parties agree to, aren't met. When those provisions or objectives aren't met, one party has "breached" the contract.

When a contract is breached, there are usually two routes that the parties take. One is that the party harmed by the breach of contract attempts to enforce the contract by taking legal action. The other route is to try informal methods to mediate and remedy the situation. Negotiations and discussions to fix the situation are certainly suggested, as it can be much more cost-effective than taking another company to court.

Avoiding common contractor scams

Whether you are hiring a contractor to work on your home or your business property, taking the time to conduct some due diligence can help you avoid costly scams. Even when no scam is afoot, a little research helps you ensure you are hiring an experienced contractor who is less likely to leave you with defective construction or repairs.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are some common signs that a "contractor" might also be a scam artist. First, the FTC says you might want to avoid contractors that go door to door in a cold-call fashion, attempting to sell you their services. Most licensed contractors don't work this way -- they reach out through normal advertising channels and word of mouth and are typically too busy to go door to door. While some door to door contractors are legitimate, the FTC warns consumers to avoid those that offer kickbacks or discounts for finding other customers.

Experience is a must in employment law cases

Employment law extends far beyond the issues of salary or claims of discrimination, and the manner in which employment litigation is handled makes a big difference in outcome. Experienced employment law professionals know there isn't always one path to what might be deemed success for a case. Winning in court is not always going to provide the best outcome for every situation, for example.

Our firm is experienced in a range of employment litigation matters, and we have had success at negotiating positive outcomes to keep businesses or former employees out of court. While negotiation and settlement can be a very powerful tool, we also know that a trial win can be as valuable in other cases. We take the time to understand both the nature and facts of your case and your goals with regard to litigation. With that information in mind, we recommend possible courses of action that we believe are most likely to result in fair outcomes for you.

What are the requirements for tortious interference?

All business owners, managers and sales people know about competition. Competition is actually a vital part of most marketplaces, as it drives the market forward. That doesn't mean it isn't sometimes frustrating for those involved, and there are times with other businesses or individuals do cross the line. Sometimes when those lines are crossed, there might be a case for a lawsuit for tortious interference.

Tortious interference occurs when one person or entity acts willfully and with intent to undermine or get in the way of a contract or business agreement. For example, if someone attempts to make it impossible for a company to follow through on a contractual obligation by delaying a delivery on purpose, then tortious interference might be involved.

What types of things are intellectual property?

Many people automatically think about copyright when the topic of intellectual property comes up. If you haven't written or created something, do you need to worry about your intellectual property rights? The answer is yes, because many other things are defined as intellectual property, especially in a business environment.

The World Intellectual Property Organization defines a number of high-level categories for this type of property. Copyright, patent, trademark, industrial design and geographic indication can all be a form of intellectual property that you need to protect. As a business, your intellectual property often goes hand-in-hand with your brand and reputation. It took time to develop and is valuable, and you don't want someone stealing it or misusing it.

Are your storm water permits in order?

If you are involved in an construction project in California, it's a good idea to ensure all the legal details are being attended to. Whether you are the contractor, the investor or another interested party, if a project is derailed because permits or other legal issues weren't handled correctly, then you can lose time and money. One legal consideration for projects in the state has to do with storm water.

According to the California Water Board, a storm water discharge permit is required for certain construction projects. If a construction project will disturb an acre or more of soil, then one of these permits is required. If a project is connected to or a part of larger building plans, then a permit might also be required. Permit costs are calculated per project and are based in part on the risks the project might pose regarding erosion or pollutants.

Facing construction defect claims

Construction defects occur for many reasons. They might occur because a builder cut corners with supplies or procedures, but they can also occur because of an innocent mistake. Sometimes, construction defects may simply be the result of an unintended consequence of the environment. Whatever the reason for a construction defect, if the owner of a new property discovers the defect within a reasonable time period, they might take action against the construction company for restitution.

Construction defects also have a wide range when it comes to the cost associated with them. Some defects are very minor fixes that require a few minutes to a few hours of work to correct. In these cases, construction companies usually just fix the problem, especially if the defect was reported during a warranty period.

Trademark registration has a long history in California

The California State Archives have made thousands of old trademark images available for viewing online. These trademark images are from the 1861 to 1900 period, and regard all different sorts of products. 

This online digital archive of California trademark images not only presents an interesting resource for history enthusiasts and individuals interested in commercial art. It also serves as a reminder of how long of a history trademark registration has here in California.  

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