Thursday, June 23, 2011

Trademark Infringement Attorney

As a Los Angeles trademark infringement lawyer, I am frequently asked to comment regarding intellectual property litigation issues. These issues often include internet advertising trademark infringement or infringing goods manufactured in other countries and re-sold in America. This week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Fox News about intellectual property infringement occurring in China and the effect of such infringements on the American economy. This often includes copyright infringement of software, music and movies. Trademark enforcement is also very difficult in the Chinese market.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anonymous Internet Speech Takes Hit in New Jersey

The New Jersey Supreme Court has ruled that social media and message board activity may not enjoy the same level of protection as traditional journalistic media such as newspapers. This is one of the first opinions to make distinctions between journalistic activity in social networks and traditional news media.

The decision has to do with the breadth of New Jersey's shield law, which allows journalists to protect their sources. According to New Jersey, reporting in traditional journalistic channels maintains a robust right to shield sources. Not so much in social media and message boards such as Facebook and Twitter.

Anonymous speech rights are at the center of social media law and tension is present in this area. That is because internet defamation is exploding. This New Jersey case could be a ray of hope for those being targeted by anonymous internet defamation. An experienced internet defamation lawyer may be able to use arguments similar to this New Jersey case to identify the source of anonymous internet defamation taking place in social networks and message boards.

Social Media Legal Dangers

Today I appeared on Fox News as a Social Media Attorney to offer commentary in light of the Anthony Weiner scandal.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Internet Trademark Infringement Basics for Business

Unfair internet business practices have become a common source of litigation in recent years. This type of dispute may involve various types of legal claims ranging from defamation and trade libel to infringement of trademarks. Trademarks, which identify the source of goods and services, are constantly infringed online.

How are trademarks infringed? There are a couple of common scenarios that I come across in my practice as an internet trademark infringement attorney.

First, a competitor may conduct keyword advertising using another business' trademark to lure customers to a competing website. In other words, a business' customers perform a Google search for it and click on an advertisement which appears for the business' trademark but, the customer is taken to a competing business' website after clicking on said advertisement. There are many different factual scenarios under which this may occur. Furthermore, assigning liability is very difficult and complex. Not all circumstances of keyword bidding on competitor's trademarks result in the requisite consumer confusion required for a trademark infringement claim. Nonetheless, this is a common source of what we term unfair internet competition and initial consumer interest diversion.

Another common source of internet trademark infringement can be what is termed cybersquatting. Cybersquatting occurs when someone owns, registers or traffics in a domain name in bad faith by utilizing the goodwill associated with a business owner's trademark. There is actually a federal statute devoted to this claim called the Anti-Cybersquatting Consumer Protection Act. Although styled as a consumer protection act, it is most often used by businesses to prevent competitors and profiteers from diverting consumer interest and obtaining domain name real estate online.

Two common ways that competitors steal potential business and compete unfairly online include keyword bidding infringement and cybersquatting. Frequent search engine policing usually uncovers such unfair competition and early detection is usually the best preventative medicine. Most internet trademark infringement will cease pursuant to a strongly worded cease and desist letter. Some infringers may challenge the business owner's trademark rights and, in that case, litigation is often required. In many cases, a successful plaintiff in a trademark infringement may recover its attorneys fees and costs.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Social Media Dangers

As a social media attorney, I often see the dark side of the internet and instant connectivity. This week I am reminded once again of the dangers inherent in these new tools. Politicians like Anthony Weiner are in a tough spot. They need social media to campaign and connect with constituents in a meaningful way, however, they are exposed to scandal now more than ever. Reputations and careers can be destroyed, deservedly or undeservedly, in days if not minutes.

Did Anthony Weiner do something wrong? Was his account hacked? Who knows. That's not really the important issue. What is important is how Weiner and other public figures manage their social media exposure and liability in a world of shrinking privacy rights.

Participation in social media necessarily demands a bargain in which exposure, connectivity and participation come at the price of privacy. How can Weiner have an expectation of privacy with regard to his Twitter account? Twitter is a third party service and Weiner's Twitter account information is hosted, not on a server that he owns, but on a server presumably owned by Twitter or some other third party ISP.

Now, personally identifiable information (PII) is a different animal. Internet service providers often have a legal obligation to secure this information (credit cards, bank accounts etc). No such information appears to have been compromised in Weiner-gate.

Social media is here to stay. It tends to ruin just as many careers as it aids. It would be wise for public figures - politicians, athletes, entertainers, to retain social media counsel to review and manage their social media campaigns and endorsements in order to limit liability and damage to their brand/careers. Under FTC rules, for example, celebrity endorsers may be liable for false advertising or other legal claims springing from the products they endorse. As such, paid endorsements on services like Twitter need to be carefully reviewed and disclosed to the public.