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Frank A. Natoli
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Frank Natoli’s Answers

8,135 total


  • MY CLOTHING LINE SOUNDS LIKE A FAMOUS CLOTHING LINE

    I HAVE THIS IDEA TO START A CLOTHING LINE, AND THE NAME IS VERY INPORTANT, IT IS SIMILAR TO HOLLISTER Co THE FIRT WORDS OF IT ARE MADE UP WORS NO MEANING AND ( LISTER Co ) IS AT THE END, MY QUESTION IS DO CONSUMERS CAN GET CONFUSED BY THE NAME O...

    Frank’s Answer

    Both can matter. For example, I could not get away with naming my new tech start up "Boogle." All you can do at this point is brainstorm the strongest most distinctive brand you can come up with and have it properly vetted before jumping in.

    Before you invest in any trademark make sure you get some legal guidance upfront. It is of course best practice to clear it before you start using any trademark and starting with a strong one is your best strategy. Know as well that merely registering your business name with a state or county agency or acquiring a domain does not convey any right to use that name in commerce as a source identifier or trademark. For example, I can presumably register my new tech start up "Boogle" with the CA secretary of state because there is no other business already doing business there under that name, but this does not mean that I would not be infringing on the Google trademark, which I would be. The onus is on you to ensure the name you choose is not a problem.

    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 on all the text names 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 links below on the importance of the due diligence process and common start up mistakes 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 consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with and know you are free to work with counsel located anywhere as you have many options available not just those that provide services in your home state.

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220224

    https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/the-importance-of-trademark-due-diligence

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question 
  • Can I sell my own brand of toilet paper legally without braking any patents?

    I have done a google search and there are so many different patents on it from so many companies. -Thanks

    Frank’s Answer

    Yes, of course. No one owns the idea of toilet paper, but that does not mean that there are no patents on any of those products. Remember, a patent protects the "how" not the "what."

    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 
  • What does it mean to use someone's likeness

    what does it mean to use someone's likeness

    Frank’s Answer

    Right of publicity kicks in when you use someone's (especially a famous person) name, image or likeness to help sell or promote a good or service.

    A good example of likeness was the eTrade commercial that ran during the Super Bowl a few years ago that featured a baby that was presented as a likeness of Lindsey Lohan. It did not use an actual image of her nor her actual name but all the characteristics suggested it was intended to convey that identity and also poked fun of an addiction in that case milk. Anyway, she sued.

    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 
  • How Can I protect My Work From Being Stolen?

    I am interesting in posting a variety of writing entries, including poetry on a blog. I would like to share the work with people, but I do not want anyone to steal it. When I post my entries, am I protected from Copyright Theft? Thanks.

    Frank’s Answer

    Any creative expression will be covered by copyright law automatically. Then you register the work with the US Copyright Office so to perfect your bundle of federal rights like the right to access the courts, the right to ask for statutory damages (sometimes the only damages worth bringing the case over), the right to attorney fees, etc.

    Make sure you read carefully any and all terms that apply to any submissions you make as you may be forfeiting rights by sending that material in.

    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 
  • How much can you sue for in small claims court?

    I want to take this women who accused me of a lewed act which I didn't commit.

    Frank’s Answer

    You received some good responses particularly as they pertain to the CA small claims system. But just keep in mind, that you cannot bring an out of state defendant to the small claims court, at least in most places I am aware of, so you may have to take her to court in her state if she does not reside in CA and the award cap may be different.

    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 copyright infringement to use found photos in daily email blasts if there is attribution represented within the email?

    I run a small business and my associates are working on a daily email blast. Our idea is to feature a new place around the world everyday with a photo, name of the place, and a link to the source of the photo which will most likely be a part of an...

    Frank’s Answer

    I don't agree that this would be in the realm of fair use, but we don't have all the facts either. There seems to be no justification for needing to use THESE photos for that purpose. If you were, for example, commenting directly on a particular photo that might be different. We have to assume each photo is still protected under copyright and these days it is very easy to police for copyright infringement in this vein using software. You will likely get pinched at some point and will receive a very obnoxious letter from some contingency based law firm demanding 10-15K for the infringement. I get these calls just about every week.

    Further, 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. So if you plan on relying on that defense you better be right and that rightness better be obvious.

    Before you invest further, 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, market , distribute a product that has the same logo?

    I have designed a logo 20 years ago in school that was seen by teachers and students at the time. It was never registered but copyrights do not need to be. There is now a popular product and brand with the same logo that has been trademarked by ...

    Frank’s Answer

    There are a lot of layers to this question. The key issue here is really copyright I think over any trademark claim but both are implicated.

    Any creative expression will be covered by copyright law automatically. Then you register the work with the US Copyright Office so to perfect your bundle of federal rights like the right to access the courts, the right to ask for statutory damages (sometimes the only damages worth bringing the case over), the right to attorney fees, etc. Whether your logo has the requisite creative expression that is the subject of copyright protection is another question, many will not while others are highly creative.

    The fact that another company is using this now may suggest a copyright infringement, but one of the major burdens that fall on you is to show the court exactly how they were exposed to your logo in the first place and this has to be realistic. Next, the fact that you have no copyright registration on this means you will never be able to ask for statutory damages nor attorneys fees so any action you might take will be left with real or compensatory damages making it rather worthless even if you have a claim which seems unlikely.

    Depending on the logo itself and the nature of goods and services this other company sells compared to yours, maybe the logo can still be used by you. You should clear it with trademark counsel and I would also be focusing on the text trademark you plan on using first.

    Before you invest in any trademark make sure you get some legal guidance upfront. It is of course best practice to clear it before you start using any trademark and starting with a strong one is your best strategy. Know as well that merely registering your business name with a state or county agency or acquiring a domain does not convey any right to use that name in commerce as a source identifier or trademark. For example, I can presumably register my new tech start up "Boogle" with the CA secretary of state because there is no other business already doing business there under that name, but this does not mean that I would not be infringing on the Google trademark, which I would be. The onus is on you to ensure the name you choose is not a problem.

    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 on all the text names 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 links below on the importance of the due diligence process and common start up mistakes 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 consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with and know you are free to work with counsel located anywhere as you have many options available not just those that provide services in your home state.

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220224

    https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/the-importance-of-trademark-due-diligence

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question 
  • Is my magazine a trademark or copyright infringement ?

    I created a magazine on Flipboard called "Real Estate - The Real Deal". It is used as a hobby only. There is absolutely no revenue. I have about 7,000 followers that read it. Apparently there is an actual real estate magazine called "the Real Dea...

    Frank’s Answer

    Sure, just based on what you described here it certainly sounds like straight up trademark infringement. This is why it is critically important to do your homework on the trademark before you jump in. I will offer some general remarks on this process below and encourage you to reach out and discuss this situation with counsel in more detail just to make sure you can minimize your exposure.

    Before you invest in any trademark make sure you get some legal guidance upfront. It is of course best practice to clear it before you start using any trademark and starting with a strong one is your best strategy. Know as well that merely registering your business name with a state or county agency or acquiring a domain does not convey any right to use that name in commerce as a source identifier or trademark. For example, I can presumably register my new tech start up "Boogle" with the MA secretary of state because there is no other business already doing business there under that name, but this does not mean that I would not be infringing on the Google trademark, which I would be. The onus is on you to ensure the name you choose is not a problem.

    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 on all the text names 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 links below on the importance of the due diligence process and common start up mistakes 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 consultation, get some insights then pick the best fit to work with and know you are free to work with counsel located anywhere as you have many options available not just those that provide services in your home state.

    http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/220224

    https://www.avvo.com/legal-guides/ugc/the-importance-of-trademark-due-diligence

    Best regards,
    Frank
    Natoli-Lapin, LLC

    See question 
  • What is the chance that a piracy case will go to court?

    I received a letter from a software company stating that my IP adress downloaded their software in 2014 and they want a settlement of 60K instead of damage claim of 230K. I am unware of the software or the download. The software they are claming i...

    Frank’s Answer

    You are not going to get that kind of specific legal advice here for something like this. I suggest that you consult with a lawyer in private and discuss your best course of action 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 
  • Creating a parody brand

    I want to start a parody of Rolex watches, called "Not Rolex" alreay hace everything set up. They will be similar watches except instead of saying Rolex obviously they will say "not rolex" also if the box/paperwork say "made in China" but the watc...

    Frank’s Answer

    This is not really a parody. A much better example of a parody brand was the "South Butt" brand that opposed the "North Face" brand. I think if I am not mistaken the case settled eventually but not without a lot of legal expenses.

    Merely calling your brand "Not Rolex" does not make this a parody and in all likelihood will cause them to come at you both guns in hand. So if you are sitting on a mountain of cash that you set aside just for the giggles of federal litigation go for it. Otherwise, I would rethink this.

    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