Making Money with Copyrights

I always tell my clients that if they’ve created something, they should copyright it because that can make you money. While it costs just a few hundred dollars to get copyright registration, it could earn you tens of thousands of dollars – cha-ching! This is possible because of statutory damages under the U.S. Copyright Law. A photographer client sued someone for using his photographs without permission or license, and was …

A Sale is not a Gift

One of the biggest issues that businesses deal with is late and/or non-payment of invoices. The problem stems from either infrequent invoicing, irregular collections, or worse, insufficient documents. Rachel, a client and fashion designer, has been dealing with a non-paying customer for a few months. She sold merchandise worth $100,000 to one customer in California. Apart from an initial payment of $15,000 made 2 years ago, the customer has failed …

Your Word Against Mine – Are Oral Contracts Sufficient?

I have a client who is just starting a new apparel business. She hired a designer friend to design fabric prints for her line. She asked me if an oral agreement is valid and sufficient with her friend. People ask me this question a lot! My answer is consistently a resounding “No!”. I’ve seen clients lose a lot of money and at times their business because they didn’t have written …

The Emotions of a Cease and Desist Letter

Last week, a client who is a business coach, received a cease and desist letter from a competitor demanding that she stop using “Financial Journey” for her program. The competitor alleged that they had a trademark registration for “Money Journey” and my client’s use of “Financial Journey” was infringing on their trademark registration.   My client first went into a defensive mode and then her emotions took over. She went …

Calling your Bluff – Misclassification of Employees as Independent Contractors

In your business, you may hire employees or independent contractors or both. But I have seen many businesses misclassify employees as independent contractors only to run into trouble with the IRS. And you really don’t want to wake up that beast! Employees and independent contractors may practically do the same kind of work and spend the same amount of time doing the work. But from a legal perspective, there are …

What’s in a Name – Difference Between a Business Name and Brand Name

Recently, I’ve had startup clients consult me for registering their business and then encounter a roadblock because their chosen name is not available to be registered as a trademark. But it shouldn’t be a roadblock because business name and brand name are two different concepts.  Now this may leave many of you confused. Most entrepreneurs think that their business name is their brand name. In a lot of cases, business …

Is it a Trademark or a Copyright? – Meaning and Protection of Intellectual Property Rights

I see that entrepreneurs are often confused by what intellectual property means. Some think that it includes real estate/property. Others get them all mixed up – they want to patent a brand name, or trademark a product. As an Intellectual Property Law attorney, it is my job to explain to them that brand names are protected by trademarks and products by patents. Entrepreneurs may develop and own brands, logos, taglines, …

Year of the Rooster – Foreign Language Trademark Protection

I often talk to business owners who either filed a trademark application on their own or put together a client contract themselves, and ultimately ran into some trouble with the trademark office or their clients. In the bargain, they’ve lost some valuable resources like time, money and sometimes assets. Last week, I got a call from a client telling me that their trademark application was rejected by the United States …

The State of Being – Delaware or New York

The minute you think of starting a business, the first question you are confronted with is where should your business be incorporated. One of the most frequently asked questions that I get from startups based in New York is whether they should incorporate in Delaware or New York. Most of them think that they need to incorporate in Delaware because most big corporations are registered there. So as a New …

What Do Marilyn Monroe and Campbell Have in Common?

A few days ago, I was watching an episode on the HBO series, Vice, called “The Business of Making Art”. The episode covers how Andy Warhol appropriated works of others in his own silkscreen paintings. The technique of silkscreen painting is something that I am very familiar with. I grew up watching my mother, a graphic designer in India, make silkscreens by hand everyday and then use those screens to …