Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Beware of solicitations related to your trademark that appear to be from an official government agency

There are a lot of unscrupulous companies trying to get money from trademark owners.  Please take a minute to read this message from the United States Patent and Trademark Office.

Be aware that private companies not associated with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) often use trademark application and registration information from the USPTO’s databases to mail or e-mail trademark-related solicitations. Trademark applicants and registrants continue to submit a significant number of inquiries and complaints to the USPTO about such solicitations, which may include offers: (1) for legal services; (2) for trademark monitoring services; (3) to record trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and (4) to “register” trademarks in the company’s own private registry.

These companies may use names that resemble the USPTO name, including, for example, the terms "United States" or “U.S.” Increasingly, some of the more unscrupulous companies attempt to make their solicitations mimic the look of official government documents rather than the look of a typical commercial or legal solicitation by emphasizing official government data like the USPTO application serial number, the registration number, the International Class(es), filing dates, and other information that is publicly available from USPTO records. Many refer to other government agencies and sections of the U.S. Code. Most require “fees” to be paid.

Here's a link to the USPTO page:  http://www.uspto.gov/trademarks/solicitation_warnings.jsp

We have had instances where these bogus fees were paid by clients before they checked in with us, so this is a real problem.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Use of Interns In The Workplace

This story from the Hollywood Reporter is very interesting...and scary.  We all know how students and recent college graduates come looking for any chance to get in the door, often willing to intern for no pay. I certainly did, and I did a lot of work and put in a lot of time I didn't get paid for (and it was more like 60 hours a week).  I was happy to do it - it paid off.   Here's the way some interns feel about it.

The entertainment industry has been hit with another challenge on the low-level labor front as a former intern at the Charlie Rose show has filed a class action over alleged violations of New York's wage laws.

Lucy Bickerton lodged the lawsuit in New York Supreme Court, alleging that she wasn't paid despite working 25 hours a week for three months in the summer of 2007. The complaint was filed on behalf of all other unpaid interns who have worked on the show in the past five years. Bickerton says there were 10 other interns working for Rose during the time she spent on the show.

The plaintiff, a 2008 graduate of Wesleyan University, says her duties included assembling background research and press packets, escorting guests, digesting Rose's interviews and cleaning.

She joins others who have brought similar suits in recent months, including a intern suing fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar and former interns suing Fox Searchlight after working on Black Swan.

The Fair Labor Standards Act has typically been interpreted to allow companies to have unpaid interns if there's educational benefit involved, but the Labor Department has also made it clear that interns can't replace regular employees. In the Bickerton lawsuit, it's alleged that "“unpaid interns are becoming the modern-day equivalent of entry-level employees, except that employers are not paying them for the many hours they work.”

Here is a link to the story:  http://tiny.cc/y157aw

Comments welcomed.