If you have been through the drawn-out process of registering a trademark, you realize it is not a quick and easy process. Between backlog at the USPTO, office actions from Examiners, and oppositions from the public, there are many hoops to clear before registration. But did you know that a mark owner’s responsibilities do not end there? A mark often becomes the most valuable association with a brand. The tips below will help mark holders ensure the time, energy, and money put into their mark and brand will be protectable and valuable for years to come.
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Starting up takes a lot. A lot of time. A lot of energy. Perhaps a lot of money. And definitely a lot of planning. At the very beginning, a business owner is looking for revenue, low costs, and maximum upside, in an understandable effort to build a foundation for an economically sustainable enterprise. Having an economically sustainable enterprise–especially one that may eventually be sold–requires sufficient planning to document the assets of the firm and to ensure the firm legally owns those assets. With assets often come certain liabilities, completing the picture and value proposition of the business for owners, investors, and potential purchasers. As tempting as it can be to pass on early legal planning for a business in light of other demands that feel more immediate, that planning will show its value for a business of any size or type when avoiding headaches, heading off informal disputes and even full-on litigation. Learn the core legal considerations for a business in its inception stages, along with the pitfalls you can plan around as you build your business.
ESPN won’t be the first to take issue with BMI, Broadcast Music, Inc., over their music licensing and royalty collection terms for public performance of music in their artist catalogs. BMI is one of two major professional organizations managing performance royalty rates for musicians and their works, the other being ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers with catalogs of thousands of artists and songs. Think you can simply play your iTunes downloaded music in your workplace without a license? Think again. We have addressed this topic before as many a business owners has received the unpleasant demand letter for licensing fees under either BMI, ASCAP, or the smaller performance rights organization called SESAC, originally the “Society of European Stage Authors and Composers”. Now, however, ESPN is forging a battle in the music industry competition referred to as rate-setting and contending that BMI’s rates are disproportionate to EPSN’s payments to performers and publishers and are, therefore, unreasonable. In fact, ESPN has asked the Court to weigh in on this one.
If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have missed the struggle raging over the artist formerly known as Ke$ha, now the face of the #freeKesha movement.
A simplification of the backstage war being waged over the popstar’s music goes like this: Kesha filed a lawsuit against Lukasz “Dr. Luke” Gottwald, claiming he abused the young popstar. Her 28-page complaint alleged that the older man drugged her, sexually abused her, threatened to take away her publishing rights, and verbally abused her to the point of an eating disorder. The suit, filed in a civil court rather than the subject of a criminal investigation, seeks to terminate her contract with Gottwald and his label, Kemosabe Records. Gottwald, in turn, claims that the suit is a way for Kesha to wiggle out of contracts obligating her to his label. The popstar is obligated to six albums; two have been completed. On top of this allegation, Gottwald has filed a countersuit for defamation and extortion (among several others). After a brief stint in California courts, the case was moved to New York due to a forum selection clause. Several of Gottwald’s claims against the star and her management have been dismissed.