Category: Blog Posts

Social Media with a Side of Litigation

Remember Friendster? Maybe, maybe not. Social media has come a long way since 2002, and it is indisputably here to stay. And, as with anything which has such major impact on society, social media has also begun to become intertwined with the law. Businesses have to consider whether they need a corporate social media policy in place. Individuals need to recognize that their use of social media may be unlawful, regardless of their motives for posting certain content. And lawyers have to consider how to advise their clients on social media use and how social posts may be used as evidence.

Here are just a few recent social media incidents which may—or already have—lead to litigation.

  • People who create and share video on YouTube are becoming increasingly irate with Facebook over Facebook’s video player. Facebook has made major strides with its built-in player, generating more shares of Super Bowl ads earlier this year than did YouTube videos. Yet the new big kid on the block may find itself embroiled in a legal challenge similar to the one Google (YouTube’s owner) faced from Viacom in 2007. In the wake of that lawsuit, YouTube developed a Content ID system which allows video creators to flag or monetize illegally-duplicated videos. In contrast, Facebook offers little copyright protection and provides no ability to monetize videos that are uploaded onto the social network. This has led some YouTube creators to allege that their videos are being “freebooted”. Time—or maybe a lawsuit?—will tell if Facebook will develop its own way to manage copyright protection or video monetization.
  • A different video battle may be brewing between HBO and Periscope, with HBO recently issuing takedown notices to Twitter’s live video app. Periscope allows its users to stream whatever they are doing to their followers. Which can be useful and good… unless Periscope’s broadcasters are using the app to illegally broadcast copyrighted content. HBO alleges that this very activity happened earlier this year, when a number of Periscope users broadcast the season premiere of Game of Thrones to their followers. Periscope relies on notifications from its users that copyright infringement is occurring; HBO says that Periscope (and other developers) should have stronger safeguards in place. No word yet on if Periscope will be implementing any changes to its policy. In the meantime, the Game of Thrones season finale set a new piracy record.
  • Finally, Pinterest recently found itself on the receiving end of a copyright infringement lawsuit. Photographer Christopher Boffoli claims that his photos have been posted to the social bulletin-board site more than 5,000 times and that Pinterest is failing to protect photographers’ rights in their work. Though he’s issued multiple DMCA takedown requests, the site has not removed his content. Boffoli has previously sued other websites including Google, Twitter, and Imgur over the unauthorized use of his images. While Pinterest has offered him a settlement, he says his lawsuit is not only about money. Trial is currently set for early next year.

ORIGINAL PUBLICATION OF THIS ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND ON OUR DEDICATED BLOG: https://lomnitzerlaw.wordpress.com/

Defend Trade Secrets Act Explained

Does your work involve trade secrets? If it does—or even if you’re not sure—there’s some new legislation that you should know about: the Defend Trade Secrets Act (“DTSA”), which was recently signed into law by President Obama. Here’s some information about the act and how it may affect you.

What is a trade secret?

Like copyrights, patents, and trademarks, trade secrets are a type of intellectual property. A trade secret is information (often in the form of a formula, process, pattern, or the like) that is not generally known or reasonably ascertainable by others and which gives a business an economic advantage over its competitors. An example of a trade secret is the formula for Coca Cola. The formula is closely guarded and gives Coke a business advantage over other soda makers who do not have it.

What does the DTSA do, and why does it matter?

Most intellectual property is governed by federal law, with trademarks being an exception to the general rule. These may also be governed by state law and common law, and trademark-based lawsuits often claim federal-, state-, and common-law based causes of action.

Unlike other intellectual property, trade secrets had been solely state-law causes of action until now. Without federal law governing trade secrets, plaintiffs’ claims for misappropriation were matters for state court, and remedies were dictated by state law. The DTSA now allows plaintiffs to bring trade secrets claims in federal court so long as these secrets are used in interstate commerce. In other words, plaintiffs now have the option to select the forum for their lawsuit. Because many people prefer to litigate in federal court than in state court, this is a big deal.

The Act also creates a uniform scheme nationwide for dealing with misappropriation, providing remedies and responsibilities that will apply to all litigants across the board. Finally, as with trademarks, one can sue under federal law, state law, and common law. The DTSA does not limit a plaintiff’s recovery under state law or at common law.

Does the DTSA provide any new remedies for the misappropriation of trade secrets?

The law allows for ex parte injunctions to issue in certain, very limited circumstances. This means that a court could seize the trade secret, or order a party to stop using it, without a hearing beforehand. This is in addition to whatever other remedies are available.

However, parties should carefully consult with their attorney to consider whether an injunction is an appropriate measure to seek. If one is granted and later found wrongful or excessive, the DTSA gives the latter a cause of action against the party seeking the injunction.

For employers, exemplary damages and attorneys’ fees are available in a trade secret suit where the employer has provided notice of immunity in agreements or contracts entered into or updated after May 12, 2016 with employees, contractors or consultants. All new agreements (entered into after May 12, 2016), as well as any amendments or other “updates” to preexisting agreements, should include an appropriate disclosure identifying the immunity provisions of the DTSA if the contract relates to trade secrets and/or other confidential information.

Does the DTSA protect whistleblowers?

To encourage compliance with the law, numerous federal acts (as well as state acts, as applicable) provide whistleblowers with civil and criminal immunity. The DTSA is one such law. Whistleblowers may confidentially share trade secrets with their attorney or the government so long as they do so because they suspect a violation of the law. They may also file trade secrets under seal in court documents for the same reason. In the event that an employer retaliates against a whistleblower, the whistleblower can use the trade secret in an anti-retaliation lawsuit, so long as its confidentiality is maintained.

Some employers require their employees to be subject to a contract governing the use of trade secrets or confidential information. These employers must alert their employees about the immunity provision of the DTSA, either within the contract itself or by referring to a different company document which explains this aspect of the law. If an employer does not include the immunity provision, they will not be able to collect exemplary damages or attorneys’ fees in the event of litigation.

How do I find out more about trade secrets and the DTSA?

While the above is general information rather than legal advice, we regularly work on cases involving the misappropriation of trade secrets. If you’d like to discuss a legal matter pertaining to trade secrets or need to speak to an attorney about updating your employment agreement/confidentiality agreements, contact our firm today via phone or website form.

ORIGINAL PUBLICATION OF THIS ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND ON OUR DEDICATED BLOG: https://lomnitzerlaw.wordpress.com/

The New GTLDS: A Blessing and a Curse For Your Brand Identity

Have you looked into purchasing a new internet domain recently? If so, you may have noticed that there are a plethora of new generic top-level domains (“gTLDs”) to choose from. gTLDs are domain suffixes which appear after the last period in a domain name – such as .com and .net. But those are just the tip of the iceberg. New gTLDs range from .academy to .zone… with some 300 options currently available and more becoming available on a regular basis.

gTLDs are created by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”). In 2012, ICANN allowed individuals and companies worldwide to apply for new gTLDs. Three years later, many of these gTLDs are rolling out for the public to purchase and use.

The new gTLDs allow for individuals and businesses alike to add a more descriptive, personal touch to their domain names. Always wanted to be a .ninja? Or a .guru? Now you can be either—or both. Want to make clear that you’re a consultant? Just purchase a .consulting gTLD for your company name. Are you an .engineer? There’s a gTLD for that too. And the music community is eagerly awaiting the availability of its eponymous gTLD, which is currently awaiting ICANN approval.

The new TLDs offer an opportunity for businesses to use domain names to help describe what they do. For example, this firm could choose the domain Lomnitzer.attorney, Lomnitzer.lawyer or Lomnitzer.legal, giving website visitors a pretty good idea of what kind of business we’re in. Will these new gTLDs catch on to the extent that the more “classic” domain gTLDs have? Only time will tell. Regardless, it still may be a good idea for you to consider registering domains with new gTLDs as part of your business plan.

This is particularly true for companies which may not have a lot of brand recognition behind them. Domestically, businesses with trademark and name recognition should still be able to continue to enforce their intellectual property rights in the context of these new domains. Yet why would you want to have to? It may save a lot of trouble and legal expenses down the road to preemptively purchase domains with gTLDs that are relevant to your business. So if you own a company called, for example, Really Great Marketing, you may want to consider purchasing the domain reallygreat.marketing, as well as any other gTLDs that you find relevant or you think your prospects and customers may search for. This will head off legal issues before they arise.

Keep in mind, too, that not all of the new gTLDs originate from the US. And, as you may imagine, other countries have different intellectual property laws than the US. So if you take issue with a gTLD that is based outside of this country, it may be more difficult to enforce your rights. In this situation, prevention may again be the best cure. By registering relevant gTLDs for your business, you may reduce the possibility of dealing with intellectual property rights in an international context.

The domain .sucks requires particular attention. Yes, there really is going to be a .sucks gTLD, and it may already be live by the time you read this. The preregistration period for this registry is closing in a matter of weeks and the domains will soon be available to the public. While these domains are expensive, they’re probably cheaper than fighting a dissatisfied customer who registers yourcompanyname.sucks—not to mention the bad publicity caused by that customer.

Ultimately, the new gTLDs represent a great opportunity for a variety of organizations. Yet they also present the possibility of damage to your brand. Businesses would be wise to develop a strategy for monitoring and dealing with the new gTLDs in order to protect their hard-earned intellectual property rights.

For more information about gTLDs and how to protect your brand identity, contact The Lomnitzer Law Firm located in Boca Raton, FL.

ORIGINAL PUBLICATION OF THIS ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND ON OUR RELATED BLOG: https://lomnitzerlaw.wordpress.com/

Copyright Laws Create Blurred Lines

By now you’ve heard that Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams have lost their legal battle against the Marvin Gaye estate. A jury found in mid-March that Thicke and Pharrell’s “Blurred Lines,” the biggest-selling song of 2013, infringed on Gaye’s “Got to Give it Up” to the tune of more than $7.3 million dollars. The “Blurred Lines” creators purportedly intend to appeal.

A quick listen to portions of the songs back-to-back makes it easy to hear the similarities between them. But still: aren’t there songs out there that sound more similar than these? Sam Smith just settled with Tom Petty because the chorus of Smith’s “Stay With Me” has the same melody as the chorus of Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” – before the case ever made it to court. And many people are surprised that Madonna never sued Lady Gaga over Gaga’s “Born This Way” – easily identifiable as being inspired by the queen of pop’s “Express Yourself.” “Blurred Lines” sounds arguably less like “Got to Give it Up” than some of these other examples. So what’s the difference?

A variety of commentators agree that the similarity in this song is really in the sound and the feel – like the listener is at a disco party where people are clapping, cheering, and playing the cowbell. If you played the songs on an acoustic guitar, you would hear different chords, keys, and melodies. But due to when Gaye’s disco track was released, that actually doesn’t matter. The copyright for “Got to Give it Up” was registered in 1977, the last year before a sea change in the Copyright Act. Hence, there are different rules for works with copyrights registered before 1978, and works with copyrights registered in 1978 or later. In this case, Gaye only had a copyright in the musical composition of his song and not the completed sound recording. This means that the final recording itself was never at issue, and indeed, the jury never even listened to the two complete songs in court!

Some chalk it up to having the case heard by a jury who considered the similarities in the sound recordings which were not supposed to matter. Others say that it was unwise for Thicke to openly talk about how he wanted to record an homage to “Got to Give it Up,” one of his favorite songs of all time. And then there is the question of whether any of this would be an issue if “Blurred Lines” hadn’t made so much money.

Regardless of the reason for the ruling, its implications for the music industry are huge. The purpose of copyright law is to incentivize creators to develop new works by providing protection for the creations. Yet this rationale fails in this case for two reasons. First, Marvin Gaye himself reaps no benefit; rather, his heirs do, and those heirs had nothing to do with the creation of Gaye’s song. Second, the outcome of this case may ultimately end up stifling creativity rather than promoting it. Because while inspiration is everywhere, artists may become afraid if their songs sounds too similar to other musical works that came before. And even if the artists aren’t afraid, their record labels might be.
Who really lost in court? Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams, certainly. But also musicians and music lovers everywhere.

ORIGINAL PUBLICATION OF THIS ARTICLE CAN BE FOUND ON OUR RELATED BLOG: https://lomnitzerlaw.wordpress.com/

The Value of a Civil Litigation Attorney

In the U.S., lawsuits can be described using two types of categories: criminal or civil. These two types of cases operate under completely separate laws and have vastly different legal processes. At this time, we will focus on civil cases the role and value of a civil litigation attorney.

Specifically, a civil matter is defined as a case between a private party against an individual, organization, or business, for some sort of negligence, in which punitive damages in the form of monetary compensation is being sought by the victim. Typical civil litigation matters include commercial law, probate disputes, property disputes, accidents, and all forms of negligence, and more. In these circumstances, it is important to align yourself with an experienced civil attorney that is competent in this specific code of law and procedure.

A civil litigation attorney is responsible for proving the client’s case by a preponderance of the evidence. This requires the civil lawyer to convince the court that his or her claims are more likely true than not true.

A civil case is premised on the presence of a wrongful act, that is proven to be more than likely to be true and accurate, which is made right by awarding monetary damages to the victims with the intention of achieving a fair resolution.

An experienced civil litigation lawyer will almost always retain an expert that specializes in the particular wrongdoing in question in order to support an obvious neglience.

As a defendent of a civil litigation case, there are many benefits in being represented by an qualified civil litigation attorney who will argue in defense of actions taken throughout all stages of the litigation including pleading, investigation, discovery, pre-trial, trial, settlement, and appeal.

Of course case results rely on many different factors, but a worthy litigation attorney will represent you at every step in the process of filing or defending a lawsuit. At The Lomnitzer Law Firm, P.A., we will review your case and guide you based on experience and knowledge of the law. Whether your case is settled privately or goes to court, you will be assured of excellent representation by one of the strongest litigators in South Florida.

For more information regarding the hiring of a civil litigation attorney, contact us to discuss your circumstances and learn how we can be of assistance to you.

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Why Hire an Entertainment Attorney

The entertainment industry is a highly contractual business surrounded by lots of legal terms and conditions. While entertainers are working on their craft, it is integral that he or she have proper legal representation, not only at the onset of a career but throughout all business dealings.

When navigating through agreements, business relationships, intellectual property, and revenue sharing, the representation of an entertainment attorney can make or break an entertainer’s bottom line results.

What is the Role of an Entertainment Attorney?

Lawyers representing entertainers will perform a multitude of services including but not limited to reviewing contracts, negotiating deals, and pursuing legal disputes through settlement or court.

When Should You Hire an Entertainment Attorney?

This answer is easy. You should certainly have an entertainment attorney present prior to signing any contract. We also feel strongly that you should be represented prior to sharing any intellectual property (copyrights, trademarks, etc…).

Entertainment Negotiations

Your entertainment lawyer spends much time focused on drafting and negotiating deals, including management contracts and industry specific arrangements, with a constant awareness on the legal terms and ramifications of any particular deal. A talented and dedicated entertainment lawyer can often be a one-stop solution for a new entertainer. Until the career is up and running, an enertainment attorney can eliminate the need for other service providers such as the business manager, accountant, agent, and more.

Entertainment Litigation

The entertainment lawyer’s focus is the legal aspect of all endeavors. When potential legal issues arise, the attorney will attempt to resolve such issues firts through mediation, then arbitration, and if neither has worked successfully, through a full court litigation.

Contact Our Office

The Lomnitzer Law Firm, P.A., located in Boca Raton, FL, is represented by several entertainment attorneys that focus solely on the entertainment industry, including film, music, sports, and theater. Our lawyers will confidently guide you based on experience and knowledge of entertainment law. Contact us for more information.

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Three Benefits of Hiring a Copyright Attorney

So you created a wonderful new piece of intellectual property such as:

  • Music
  • Literature
  • A Movie or Play
  • Choreography
  • A Photograph
  • Sculptures
  • A Website
  • Or any other unique work or design

Now what do you do?

How do you protect yourself and your work from monetary or personal loss?

You will need to explore the legal protection known as copyrighting. A copyright attorney can be extremely helpful. The legal advice and guidance you will receive will not only provide proper credit to the responsible party, but it will serve as the foundation for protected business ventures. Below we outline the main three benefits of hiring a copyright lawyer:

  • Copyright Registration. A copyright attorney will successfully complete your copyright registration. With a knowledgeable attorney, there will be no time delays, no oversights and no mistakes. Your work will undoubtably be properly protected by a qualified professional.
  • Copyright Renewals. Copyright renewals will not go unnoticed. As you progress in your business or endeavors, your plate will become increasing full. Your copyright attorney will always keep a watchful line on renewals and expirations. Also, as you continue to progress, guess who is going to need a knowledgeable business lawyer for guidance, advice, and representation? Yes, you!
  • Copyright Protection. When a properly filed copyright is violated, it is still the responsibility of the registrant to seek a resolution or legal judgement. An experienced copyright attorney will properly represent your best interests for a expedited remedy to the violation.

The Lomnitzer Law Firm, P.A., located in Boca Raton, FL, will consult to review your needs and guide you based on experience and knowledge of the law. Contact us for more information regarding copyright registration, how to protect your intellectual property via copyright, or copyright infringement cases.

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How to Protect Intellectual Property

Intellectual property can also be defined as intangible assets. Usually, intellectual property will fall into one of these categories: music, art, inventions, symbols, logos, designs, brands, or trade secrets.

In order to protect intellectual property, you will want to register your IP, which will preserves the rights of inventors, artists, businesses, etc…

Once Intellectual Property is registered, it has the same ownership rights as that of physical property. Intellectual property can be bought, sold, or transferred in the same way as a piece of land, a house, or an automobile.

There are several ways to protect your intellectual property. Depends on the type of IP that you have, you’ll need to chose the proper registration. An experienced Intellectual Property Attorney will be able to guide you through the registration process to protect your IP and make it legally yours.

Patents

Patents are generally reserved for inventions. If you have developed a product or process that is unique, and plan to profit from it, you’ll want to seek a patent registration. Patent registrations are often a complex process that requires a patent lawyer with experience in patent law.

Copyrights

A copyright registration will protect original works like authorship, literary compositions, music, drama, photography, audio, video, software and other intellectual works. The owner of the copyright should begin using the standard copyright symbol when registration is completed.

Trademarks

A trademark registration will protect the name of your business, product, or service by preventing others from representing a business, product, or service under the same or similar name. The first step in a trademark registration is to conduct a trademark search to confirm that a trademark has not already been registred.

A Final Word

The Lomnitzer Law Firm, P.A. will consult to review your needs and guide you based on experience and knowledge of the law. For more information regarding how to properly protect your intellectual property, contact us to learn how we can be of assistance to you.

Victory for Internet Attacks Lawyer

Large Corporations, small businesses, and individuals are all concerned with their online reputation, and rightfully so!

Reputation management and public image are just two of the countless aspects of our lives that that have been impacted by the internet. The internet and social media not only allows for people to create their own personal brands but also invites others into their lives in a way that was not possible before the advent of the World Wide Web.

The Lomnitzer Law Firm was recently successful in a major preceding that was published in Legal Ink Magazine. CLICK HERE to read the article in full.

Our Boca Raton based Law Firm has seen this many times regarding internet attacks and are often contracted to protect the reputation of a client.

If you believe that you are in need of an attorney for Internet slander, dishonest Internet reviews, or any other attack on yours or your corporation’s reputation, we invite you to contact us to discuss your situation and the options that are available to you.

Our lawyers represent clients nationwide and locally in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Parkland, Coconut Creek, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Aventura, Miami and all surrounding areas.

2014 Super Lawyer Selection!

We are proud at announce that Lorri Lomnitzer has recently been selected as a 2014 Super Lawyer by Thomson Reuters.

Super Lawyers is a respected rating service of outstanding lawyers who have attained a high-degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The selection process includes independent research, peer nominations and peer evaluations.

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Ms. Lomnitzer was selected based on her successful track record in and out of the court room in areas such as intellectual property law, copyright law, trademark law, and patent law.

If you believe that you are in need of an intellectual property attorney in the South Florida area, you are invited to contact the Lomnitzer Law Firm, P.A. and Lorri Lomnitzer specifically, to discuss your situation and the options that are available to you.

Ms. Lomnitzer represents clients nationwide and locally in West Palm Beach, Lake Worth, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Coral Springs, Parkland, Coconut Creek, Deerfield Beach, Pompano Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Aventura, Miami and all surrounding areas.