Archive for the 'Estate Planning Issues' Category

Bank of America Cites Interesting Application of Trade Secret Doctrine

As the economy worsens, and the bailouts continue, tax payers are understandably, asking for more transparency about where the money that has been provided to the banking institutions has gone.

As reported by, the case of People v. Thain has some interesting rulings within it. Specifically, Bank of America must disclose bonuses to staff that were paid by Merrill Lynch as part of the merger between the two organizations, as the organizations received billions of dollars of bailout funds from the federal government

In an interesting application of strategy, Bank of America has cited that information regarding the bonuses that were paid out was a trade secret. A New York court, however, ordered that this information must be conveyed to the New York Attorney General’s office.

Attached is the link to People v. Thain

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The American Bar Association

held a poll regarding the 100 best legal based blogs on the web- the Iowa Estate Plan blog put out by Matthew Gardner got good reviews. Click to see it

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Trademarks: The Importance of Protecting Your Mark

Okay, you’ve just gotten a trademark from the USPTO and you are happily using your mark in the stream of commerce to sell your product ( i.e  you are regularly selling your item with your trademark clearly labeled on your mark)

Regrettably, your competitor, who is only three towns over, and sells a product materially similar to yours  adopts a logo similar to your logo two years after you are granted your logo from the USPTO and three years after you started using your logo in the stream of commerce.   What are your options, and why should you care? After all, competition is healthy right, and, as  the business phrase goes “steel sharpens steel”, right?

Well there are some issues  to consider- is your trademark being diluted? Do your clients and potential clients get confused by the similarity of the logos and can’t determine which product is the one they prefer? Are you losing out on potential clients due to the logo confusion and product confusion?  The test boils down to whether or not a reasonable consumer would be confused by the similarity of the marks and the products.

If after thorough analysis, you determine that the mark would be infringed, what are your remedies?  Despite the bleakness of the situation, you do have options. You can ignore the competitor’s action ( and risk that your mark will become diluted, and your intellectual property rights will be limited as a result) send a carefully worded cease and desist letter,  license your logo to your client ( again, causing a dilution problem potentially, but also having the advantage of avoiding litigation) or file suit.

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Can a copyright be an inherited item?

As my blog reflects both probate and estate planning issues, as well as copyright issues,  I thought I would tackle a question that that has recently been on a list serve.

Copyrights  give the author (assuming tha tthe author did not create a work for hire) protection for their work for the life in being + 70 years. Clearly, this is a significant amount of time. This is inheritable property.  An estate may well be receiving royalties for the use of the copyright long after the decedent has passed on. The most recent example of this is the Disturbia movie  lawsuit that was recently filed, where the estate of the author of the Alfred Hitchcock movie treatment sued for infringement on the copyright.

A trademark, by contrast, is a mark that is an identifier that indicates a particular good or product to a consumer. As such, the trademark passes with the business.

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