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Frank A. Natoli
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Frank Natoli’s Answers

6,138 total


  • If I have a personal trainer with a contract but he stops training me, can I sue him for my money back?

    Contract is from August 1 to November 1. For 3 1 hour sessions in 1 week.

    Frank’s Answer

    At the end of the day, if what you are saying is that you paid him more than the value of services you received then you can sue him and this is probably ripe for the NJ small claims court, which has an award cap of 3K. The legal claim I suspect will be for unjust enrichment. As noted, fitness clubs are regulated and the Dept of Consumer Affairs governs these, but in truth I'm not so sure this would apply in your case if in fact you are dealing with just a private trainer. You can always ask them: 973-504-6200

    If you need further clarification, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

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  • My company wants to give away free items or donations, to the general public. Would these donations be tax deductible?

    My company wants to give away useful dependable items to the general public free of charge. Would this action be tax deductible to my company and if so what percentage is tax deductible? And is there a limit to how much a company can give away and...

    Frank’s Answer

    AS noted, no deduction can be claimed unless you receive that from a qualified 501(c) entity. And even here there is a limit to what any individual or entity can deduct.

    I suggest that you consult with a CPA in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

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  • I am developing educational content for a client. Can I include links to additional resources that are not my own content?

    The client is a school district and the content will be used in the classroom. The links would be to the original sites (e.g., a video clip from a government organization). Another example is a list of additional resources that include hyperlink...

    Frank’s Answer

    First, unless you provided your client with a written indemnification they would be on the hook for any potential infringement. If you suspect that they are requesting anything that might cross the line you are then best to suggest that they consult counsel to make sure it is lawful. I would not simply glean some quickie insights on a free Q&A platform and call it a day or try to be your own lawyer and advise them on what you think they can or cannot get away with. I'm not saying this what you are doing, just making that point clear just in case it is relevant.

    That said, if ultimately you are merely linking to another's content that will not be a problem. The link is akin to a finger pointing at some content hosted elsewhere and on its own is not infringement. Further, if in fact this material is being used by a not-for-profit educational institution and within the classroom learning environment the copyright law specially offers an exception. So based on the little facts presented I see no issues, but of course there could be more here.

    If you need further clarification, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

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  • Should I be worried about trademark infringement?

    I'm interested in starting a credit counseling business. No companies with the name I've chosen (or a similar) name exist in my state, but I saw via a USPTO search that a national firm (Standard and Poor's) has the name registered as a service mar...

    Frank’s Answer

    Of course this could be a problem and at first blush it sure sounds like the services are in the same sandbox unlike say Delta Airlines versus Delta faucets. But in any event you need to have a proper clearance done before you start investing in any trademark.

    Your trademark will be one of if not the most important and valuable business assets you will have and you will ultimately spend more money in support if it than you will anywhere else (advertising, marketing, PR, branding, packaging, etc.). So you owe it to your business and yourself to make sure you handle this properly upfront and the first order of business always starts with a proper and comprehensive clearance.

    Whenever you endeavor into investing in a trademark it is very important that you conduct the proper clearance due diligence upfront and before you start spending any money in support of it or submit an application to the USPTO. In the US, this means searching under both federal (USPTO) as well as common law because trademark rights stem from use in this country NOT registration. This means that acquiring a federal registration does not necessarily mean that you are not infringing on another's intellectual property. See the link below for a brief article from Fox Business News on the importance of the due diligence process and our overview guide.

    I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question 
  • Someone is selling shirts with the logo/name of my former restaurant. The trademark has long expired; do I have any rights?

    My parents owned a local restaurant that closed decades ago. Any formal trademarks we might have had have long expired, but the logo was known locally from our advertising. Someone is now selling "throwback t-shirts" on a local history website wit...

    Frank’s Answer

    You received some good insights. A trademark requires use in commerce in order for any rights to affix to it. So the fact that the mark in question has not been used for such a long time tells us that you and your parents would no longer have any claim to the trademark.

    Now regards to the logo, it is certainly possible that if it is possessed of sufficient creative expression that a copyright interests affixed, which happens automatically in the US since 1978. The rights in this regards vest with the creator or with the person or entity that had those rights assigned through some written agreement or by operation of law like when a bona fide employee creates something as part of their employment. So you may have a claim under copyright law, but the details will need to be fleshed out. I would add as well that unless this work was registered with the US Copyright Office before any infringement occurred certain benefits such as statutory damages and attorney fees would no longer be available. So you would have to weigh the likelihood of little damages with the expense and effort of bringing any legal action. But you should be able to make them stop and perhaps even negotiate some demand from them assuming of course that we have a bona fide IP interest here.

    I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question 
  • Can I sell an iOS app on iTunes that has content that were indexed from the Web (online articles, writings, blogs, etc)?

    Am I allowed to build a mobile app that holds content coming from the web (copyrighted and non-copyrighted)? I know if we were to get the permission from the authors and make a deal with them, that should be ok. But what if there's a ton of them? ...

    Frank’s Answer

    You received some good responses here, but alas no one can address this or offer any actionable legal advice without first fully understanding exactly what you are doing. Like Attorney Ballard, I too am circumspect that what you are really saying is that your platform will be copying and displaying copyrighted material hosted elsewhere. That can be a big problem, but perhaps we are not fully understanding.

    I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question 
  • Do I need permission from Marvel, DC, or other artists to hang their art up on the walls in my coffeehouse?

    I will not be selling their products, just using it for decor.

    Frank’s Answer

    The issue in these kind of cases is one degree.

    Merely hanging some decorative pieces is not going to be a problem. But if you create a space that presents a false association, endorsement, sponsorship or other affiliation with Marvel or DC (Disney, Warner), then this can be considered infringement. So for example, using an abundance of material from one mark holder creates greater exposure than using material from many mark holders and this is because it becomes much harder for a mark holder to allege market confusion when their marks are presented along side a multitude of others.

    If you need further clarification, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question 
  • Is it fair use to make a checklist app for a toy collectible?

    I'm an app developer and I have built numerous "checklist" apps. I thought that it fell under fair use since its transformative, its educational and its a reference. I've had one of the toy industries biggest companies praise the app I made for th...

    Frank’s Answer

    You received some good responses, but you simply cannot receive any advice here over this free public Q&A forum that you can actually rely upon. You will have to discuss it all out with an IP lawyer in private and once everything is understood she can then offer a proper opinion.

    Further, keep in mind that fair use is a legal defense and the copyright holder is always free to drag you into court and force you to prove out your use as fair if they believe you are infringing. So if you plan on relying on that defense you better be right and that rightness better be obvious.

    I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question 
  • I'm looking to make an advert impersonating a very famous celebrity. Is this legal?

    The advert would not use the celebrity's name or images, but the impersonator would have incredibly similar physical traits.

    Frank’s Answer

    Anytime you use the name, image or likeness of a famous person to help sell or promote a good or service it will likely be a violation of that celebrities publicity and privacy rights unless you get permissioun. CA, for example, has a very strong protections for such things and these are state causes of actions. Roughly 12 states even enforce the rights of deceased persons from 10-100 years after they pass.

    It is possible though unlikely that what you describe may perhaps be considered a true parody and thus a fair use, but the only way to know is to consult with counsel and explain it fully.

    If you are taking this seriously, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question 
  • Is It illegal to copy off a website and add the content to my website and linking the original site?

    So Im creating a website where i manually collect all of the accredited reviews on cars and post them on my site and the idea is to let my website be a " One stop for all Auto reviews" for example: You come on my website and find t...

    Frank’s Answer

    As noted, linking is not going to be an issue. But copying someone else's reviews and pasting them to your site certainly can be. It is entirely possible that in so doing you would be infringing on the writer's creative expression which is protected under copyright law automatically. But wait...there's more..., most of the platforms that host that kind of content like this one here on Avvo have a robust set of terms you agree to when you visit and make use of the site. These terms very likely strictly prohibit scraping their data for your own uses. Albeit hard to prove from where a general review came but certainly not impossible.

    If you are taking this seriously, I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your objectives in more detail. You can start by calling around to several for a free phone consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with.

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question