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pexels-mart-production-7290690-300x200Any phrase, logo, design, or a combination of these elements, that describes and establishes a good or service is considered a trademark. Two very well-known stars of Hollywood, Hailey Bieber and Kim Kardashian, have recently found themselves involved in trademark infringement lawsuits. On June 15, 2022, Mrs. Hailey Bieber produced and launched a line of skincare products entitled Rhode.[i] Ms. Kim Kardashian also launched a skincare line in early June.[ii] Both lawsuits claim the Hollywood stars’ brands are confusing to customers and retail partners due to the names being similar to existing companies.

What is a trademark?

A trademark is a form of intellectual property that “can be any word, phrase, symbol, design, or a combination of these things that identifies your goods or services.”[iii] A trademark is used to refer to a product that identifies as goods, while a “service mark” is used for services.[iv] A trademark is utilized to assist customers in recognizing and identifying a product in the marketplace as well as aid customers in differentiating a product from its competitors. A trademark also can “provide legal protection for” a brand and help guard the brand “against counterfeiting and fraud”.[v] A trademark awards the owner with the rights to use a word or phrase in reference to specific goods and services, but not the right to the particular word or phrase in general. A trademark is highly successful in providing its various protections when it is creative and unique in reference to the good or service it describes.

pexels-rodnae-productions-7841506-300x200How does arbitration work?

Arbitration is the process whereupon parties resolve their disputes via a private proceeding rather than in a courtroom. During arbitration, a neutral party known as an arbitrator presides over a case and issues a ruling, similar to what a judge or jury would do in the court system. An arbitrator is generally an experienced lawyer or retired judge with specific subject matter expertise in the area of the dispute. Unlike mediation, arbitration is a binding process, and the findings of the arbitrator are usually upheld and rarely overturned. Arbitration is favored by some litigants and disfavored by others.

What are the pros and cons of arbitration?

pexels-ekaterina-bolovtsova-6077326-300x200On June 15, 2022, the United States Supreme Court issued an opinion interpreting and discussing the 1980 Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the “Hague Convention”).[i] The case, Golan v. Saada, is one of the rare instances of the United States Supreme Court interpreting the Hague Convention, and the Court’s unanimous decision provides additional insight into how the Hague Convention may be applied in future international custody disputes arising in the United States.

A Brief Overview of the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction

Numerous countries around the world began adopting the Hague Convention in order to address the problem of international child abductions during domestic disputes.[ii] Currently, there are 101 countries, including the United States, that are signatories to the Hague Convention.[iii]

pexels-rene-asmussen-1932666-300x225The exclusive right to copy and distribute a creative work, or a copyright, provides protection to its owner and that person’s original expression of an idea or thought. The film released on May 27, 2022, “Top Gun: Maverick”, has recently found itself involved in a copyright infringement lawsuit. The classic film “Top Gun,” featuring Tom Cruise in the starring role, is based on a magazine article written in 1983. The heirs of the author of the magazine article filed a lawsuit on June 6, 2022, in federal court in Los Angeles, California alleging copyright infringement.[i] The heirs claim that Paramount Global’s rights to the original magazine story expired in 2022.[ii]

What is a copyright?

A copyright is a form of intellectual property that secures “original works of authorship” once the creator has created a “tangible form of expression.”[iii] A copyright is able to protect a wide variety of works, including photographs, musical compositions, books, plays, architectural renderings, and movies.[iv] Once a creator composes the original work and creates a tangible item from it, that person become the creator and copyright owner. The United States law regarding copyrights awards the creator and copyright owner with exclusive rights to make copies of the work, display the work, and, important to the case at hand, assemble derivative works based upon the original work. The original owner of the copyright also carries the right to allow or authorize other individuals or companies to exercise the exclusive rights they hold. Lastly, the original owner and its heirs have the right to terminate granted rights after thirty-five years.

Todd-Cole-Blog-Post-Photo--300x225
Suing Your Ex for Defamation

Over the course of my nearly ten years practicing in defamation and privacy law, I have been asked on numerous occasions if it is possible to file suit against a former spouse for defamation. This question has recently popped up with a fervor due to the widespread publicity of the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial. Although every situation is unique, here are some factors that you should consider before deciding to pursue litigation against your ex.

Litigation Privilege

pexels-kostiantyn-stupak-190340-300x200On February 24, 2022, President Vladimir Putin instructed the Russian army to invade Ukraine. The President’s goal in implementing this abrupt and sudden invasion was to prevent Ukraine from joining the Western defensive alliance with NATO. Unfortunately, President Vladimir Putin’s crusade has now displaced more than five million refugees who have been forced to flee the bloodshed and violence by Russian forces.[i] This tragic act of war has caused not only Ukrainians, but a number of Russians as well, to leave their homelands and seek refuge in the United States.

There are various immigration pathways to the U.S. that these displaced refugees might employ in order to achieve legal immigration status:

  • Apply for specific visas with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (USCIS)

pexels-pixabay-269077-300x200The number of new Tennessee businesses has grown year-over-year every quarter for ten (10) Years.[i] Tennessee remains an attractive location for business owners. I often consult with clients about moving their businesses from Florida, California, or other states to Tennessee. Unfortunately, this is not a simple process and business owners should carefully consider their options before making this important decision. Generally, the business owner moving a limited liability company to Tennessee has two (2) options.

  • Domesticate your business within the State of Tennessee. This process occurs when an out of state limited liability company registers as a ”foreign” business entity within the State of Tennessee. This can be a relatively simple process that only requires business owners to obtain a Certificate of Good Standing from their current state and subsequently file a registration form in Tennessee. Oftentimes, business owners do not prefer this option because it means that the limited liability company remains a company of the former state. For example, a California Limited Liability Company would remain a California Limited Liability company, only it would then be properly registered to conduct business in Tennessee. However, registering as a foreign business entity within the State of Tennessee means the company can still be subjected to administrative fees associated with business entities, taxation,[ii] and potential litigation in its former state.
  • Register a new limited liability company in Tennessee. Business owners can easily incorporate a new Tennessee limited liability company and either keep their previous limited liability company active in their former state or choose to dissolve it.  Clients are often able to keep their same business name and dissolve their business operations in one state and resume their operations in Tennessee. Business owners tend to prefer this method because it allows them to formally become a Tennessee Limited liability company and not just an out of state company registered to conduct business in Tennessee. Once a party has decided to dissolve their former company and reincorporate a new LLC, they should also make sure that all previous assets, such as real estate, intellectual property, and bank accounts are properly updated to reflect the new business entity.

pexels-cottonbro-4098224-300x200Am I Eligible for an Annulment in Tennessee?

When a couple seeks to end their marriage in Tennessee, the termination of the marriage is generally accomplished through divorce. The divorce process usually commences with one spouse filing for divorce in a Tennessee court of competent jurisdiction. Once the divorce litigation is initiated, it will progress in either an uncontested or contested fashion. In uncontested divorce cases, the divorce is finalized upon the court approving and incorporating a Marital Dissolution Agreement (and a Permanent Parenting Plan if there are minor children born of the marriage) into a final judgment of divorce. In contested divorce cases, the parties are unable to agree on a Marital Dissolution Agreement (and Permanent Parenting Plan if applicable), and the divorce is finalized by a trial judge upon the entry of a final judgment of divorce after a trial.

There is, however, a rare alternative to divorce: annulment. Annulment is only available if grounds for annulment existed at the time a couple married. In other words, there must have been a defect in the marriage from its inception that renders it subject to annulment, and the spouse seeking the annulment has the burden to prove that the defect existed at the time of the marriage. Simply put, grounds for annulment in Tennessee do not arise after a couple marries, although they may be grounds for divorce.

Legal Support in the Growing Esports IndustryBelong-Arena-2-300x225

The global esports industry has grown rapidly, from an underground movement to current events at Madison Square Garden. For those who may be unfamiliar with the term, esports is the world of competitive video gaming. No longer is it confined to the bedrooms of teenagers or the basement of parental homes. The newly popular industry now garners hundreds of millions of viewers each year and is estimated to bring in $2 billion in revenue in 2022. The industry has captured the attention of companies such as Amazon, NASCAR, and Mastercard, all of which committed themselves to sponsorship deals with various esports events in August 2021.[i]

Here in Tennessee alone, the esports industry has already developed a foothold, and it is only getting stronger. Belong Gaming Arenas, a massive UK-based esports gaming company, is on a mission to open 500 arenas in the United States, with one recent opening in Franklin, Tennessee at Cool Springs Galleria – right across the interstate from our Cole Law Group office. Martyn Gibbs, CEO of Belong Gaming Arenas, expressed that “Nashville has developed an incredible gaming scene and we can’t wait to provide a home for the Middle Tennessee gaming community to continue growing.”

paul-2-300x199One topic in military law important to many veterans is Veterans Affairs (VA) disability. Federal law established the US Department of Veterans Affairs with several important missions to serve our veterans.[i] One of those missions is to provide disability benefits to eligible veterans who are disabled due to injuries or illnesses that have been caused by or made worse through the veteran’s military service.[ii]

What Is VA Disability Compensation?

The VA defines disability compensation as “a tax free monetary benefit paid to Veterans with disabilities that are the result of a disease or injury incurred or aggravated during active military service. Compensation may also be paid for post-service disabilities that are considered related or secondary to disabilities occurring in service and for disabilities presumed to be related to circumstances of military service, even though they may arise after service.”[iii] The VA also provides additional compensation benefits such as dependency and indemnity compensation, special monthly compensation, adapted housing grants, service-disabled veterans’ insurance, and veterans’ mortgage life insurance.

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