• IP Alert: Trademarks in Cuba – The Time to Take Action is Now!

    With the opening of doors to business in Cuba, U.S. brand owners should take steps to make sure their trademarks are protected.

    Unlike in the U.S. (and many other jurisdictions), where trademark rights are based on use,  trademark rights in Cuba accrue to the first party to file to register a trademark. Any party can file for trademark registration, even if that party has never used, or does not even intend to use, the mark.  Due to the risk of third parties beating a U.S. trademark owner to the Cuban register, and the potential of the party then holding the U.S. trademark owner hostage over its marks, U.S. trademark owners that anticipate doing business in Cuba should take steps now to register their marks.

    Trademarks can be registered in Cuba by filing with the Oficina Cubana de la Propiedad, through local trademark agents.  An IP exception to the current embargo against Cuba allows US businesses to pay filing fees and retain local agents in Cuba in order to protect their intellectual property rights.

    For more information, and for assistance in registering your trademarks in Cuba, contact Karen Frank at kfrank@coblentzlaw.com or 415.772.5739.

  • IP Alert: New “Top Level Domains” Could Have Dramatic Effects on Trademark Owners

    A forthcoming explosion in potential domain names could have dramatic effects on trademark owners. Trademark and brand owners should take steps promptly to protect their marks.

    Until recently, so-called “top level domains,” that part of a domain name address to the right of the dot, were limited to just 23, including the familiar .com, .biz and .net, among others.  However, since 2013, in an widening of the domain name system, over 580 new generic top level domains (“gTLDs”) have become available, and at least 800 more are in process.  Many of the new gTLDs are potentially useful generic terms such as .boutique, .restaurant, .menu and .design.  However, others of the new or proposed gTLDs are potentially disparaging terms that could have a negative impact on a company’s brand.   Among these are .sucks (already available), and .porn, .sex, .adult among others, that are slated to become available in the near future.

    There are two primary steps that the owner of a registered trademark can take to protect its marks from being registered in connection with a disparaging term.

    First, as noted in our Alert dated March 2013, owners of registered trademarks can register their marks with an entity called  the Trademark Clearinghouse (“TMCH”).  If a mark is registered with the TMCH, the owner will have the opportunity during a “sunrise” period that lasts at least 30 days from the date that a new gTLD is available to  register a domain name using its mark and the new gTLD before the new gTLD is available to the general public.  For example, Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass would have the exclusive opportunity to register the domain name CPDB.law during the sunrise period following the availability of the .law gTLD.

    Second, even if a trademark owner does not register a domain name during the sunrise period, the trademark owner may have the opportunity to object to another party’s registration of a domain name using its registered mark.  The TMCH’s trademark claims service notifies an applicant for a domain name if the requested domain name is using a trademark that previously was registered with the TMCH.  If the applicant proceeds to register the domain name using a registered trademark, the TMCH will notify the trademark owner, who may then take action against the new registrant if it believes trademark infringement or a likelihood of confusion will result.

    Since new gTLDs will become available over time, there are a few steps that trademark owners should take to try to cut off disparaging or confusing uses of their marks by third parties:

    1. Register important trademarks with the U.S. Trademark Office (or another official international registry) in order to take advantage of the TMCH benefits.
    2. Register registered trademarks with the TMCH.  A trademark can be registered with TMCH for approximately $150 for 1 year, $435 for 3 years and $725 for 5 years.  Bulk pricing is available for owners of multiple trademarks. Registration is generally handled through a registration service.
    3. Identify the gTLDs that are most important for protecting the trademark/brand.
    4. Monitor the sunrise periods for such gTLDs.
    5. Complete sunrise registrations for the newly available gTLDs.

    Important forthcoming dates regarding certain gTLDs include:

    • .sucks – Sunrise period for trademark owners previously registered with the TMCH: March 30, 2015 to May 29, 2015
    • .porn, .adult and .sex:  Open registration available for any party without eligibility requirements (i.e. no trademark registration or TMCH registration required): Opens June 4, 2015

    It’s important to note that registration of a trademark with the TMCH for notice purposes is different from registering a particular domain name for use.   Registering a domain name with a new gTLD will be through an accredited domain name registrar.  Each registrar sets the price for registering a domain name using a specific gTLD.

    For example, the cost to register a .sucks domain name during the sunrise period costs $2,499 for a single year.  This option is available only for trademarks that have already been registered with the TMCH.  Following the expiration of the sunrise period, .sucks domains may be purchased by the general public for $249 per domain per year and domain names can be blocked from registration for $199 per domain per year.

    A list of all the new gTLDs current available can be seen at http://newgtlds.icann.org/en/program-status/delegated-strings

    For assistance registering your trademarks with the U.S. Trademark Office; registering your  registered trademarks with the Trademark Clearinghouse; tracking sunrise and registration periods; and for other questions regarding trademarks and the new Top Level Domains, contact Karen Frank, 415 772-5739, kfrank@coblentzlaw.com.

  • Pam Duffy Named “Outstanding Women Lawyer” by the National Law Journal

    Congratulations to partner Pam Duffy, recognized as one of 75 “Outstanding Women Lawyers” in the  country by the prestigious National Law Journal, which identified 75 of the most accomplished women attorneys in the legal profession today.

    “The building boom in the San Francisco Bay Area owes a lot to Pamela Duffy,” writes the National Law Journal. The award honors her particular work with California Pacific Medical Center in its $2.5 billion rebuilding project, and the Firm’s collaborative work with the San Francisco 49ers and the Exploratorium.

    Categories: News
  • Savvy Wealth Planning Strategies with Phil Feldman

    Wednesday, April 22, 2015

    Partner Phil Feldman will be speaking at a lunch presentation on basic estate planning. Phil’s presentation, “Savvy Wealth Planning for Women of the Sandwich Generation,” is part of a series promoting financial literacy for women. The presentation will focus on issues that may be of concern with their aging parents and their own planning for their children.

    This is a complimentary program, but registration is requested. Click here to RSVP.  

    Categories: Events
  • The Art and Business of Crafting Beer

    Challenges of building your brand and getting to market

    Wednesday, April 29, 2015  | 6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

    Creating a successful craft beer brewery requires mastery of an elusive combination of skills: artistry and creativity, combined with business acumen and legal knowledge. Join us for a lively discussion on the art and business of craft beer. Our panel will discuss the challenges of starting your brewery and getting your product to market.

    Fieldwork Brewing Company
    1160 Sixth Street, Berkeley (corner of Sixth and Harrison)

    This is a complimentary program. Space is limited.
    Please RSVP by April 17 to events@coblentzlaw.com

    Topics will include:
    Challenges of launching your brand
    Legal issues faced when building brand recognition
    Growing distribution and building sales regionally
    Scaling for growth and building your company in a competitive market

    Enjoy Fieldwork beer and savory pub-style pies from the Pie Shop in Oakland. A brief tour of the brewery will be available.

    Barry Braden, Co-owner and Founder, Fieldwork Brewing Company
    Todd Franck, Director of Sales and Marketing, Brand Manager, Craft & Specialty, Bay Area Beverage Company
    Shaun O’Sullivan, Co-owner and Founder, 21st Amendment Brewery

    Moderated by:
    Karen Frank, Partner, Food & Beverage practice group, Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP
    Steven Donaldson, Principal/Founder, Radiant Brands

    Coblentz Patch Duffy & Bass LLP
    Radiant Brands

    Click here to view further event information.

    Categories: Events
  • Webinar: Corporate Governance Essentials 2015 with Tim Crudo

    Wednesday, April 29, 2015  |  11:00 a.m.

    Is Corporate Governance on your radar this year? Coblentz Partner and former Chief of the Securities Fraud Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Tim Crudo, is partnering with emtrain to show you the pressing current issues in corporate governance, including effective risk management strategies.

    Join Tim for a free webinar: Corporate Governance Essentials 2015

    This webinar will cover:
    • Current SEC and DOJ priorities
    • FCPA compliance and enforcement
    • Recent developments in insider trading
    • The importance of accurate and transparent record-keeping
    • Codes of conduct, risk assessments, & compliance programs
    • Corporate governance best practices
    • May qualify for 60 minutes of continuing education for HRCI
    • May qualify for 60 minutes of continuing education for MCLE

    Click here to RSVP.

    RSVP Me!

    Categories: Events
  • What Really Counts in White-Collar Sentencing

    Co-Authored by Tim Crudo, originally published in Litigation, Spring 2015

    “‘How long could I go to prison?’ is a delicate question coming from any client. Estimate a sentence too high and your client could be inclined to plead guilty in a case he or she otherwise would want to fight. Too low, and you risk one day having a very surprised (and angry) client. The U.S. Sentencing Guidelines offer different factors to count in calculating a sentence, but they help only to a point. The factors are many, the guidelines are nonbinding, and judges have considerable discretion in formulating a sentence.

    When it comes to sentencing white-collar defendants in particular, what factors matter? Each case is different, of course, but the defendants caught up in the Galleon Group insider trading scheme provide an interesting laboratory to study this question. The cross section of different strategies employed by the two dozen or so criminal defendants in these highly publicized cases presents an opportunity to examine the impact of a number of sentencing factors. Looking back from the vantage of the defendants’ sentences, was it better to go to trial or take a plea? Is loss, which seems to play a huge role in calculating guideline ranges, all it’s cracked up to be? How beneficial was cooperation? Of the sentencing factors to count, what really counts?”

    Continue reading here.