Why Do YOU Need a Lawyer?

You’re forming a business. You need a lawyer because you need to do it right. You need the magic words that form the business you want to form in the formation documents (do you know what those magic words are?).

Or maybe you’re developing a brand for your new business. You need a lawyer because you need to do it right. Yes, a lawyer is expensive, but a trademark infringement action brought by a senior user of the mark you adopt … without knowing there even IS a senior user … gets mighty pricey mighty quickly.

Or you’ve invented something and you want to get your invention out to the public immediately. But wait; do you want to profit from your invention? You need to take steps to protect that invention. Do you know what steps are available to you? And do you know how steps that seem to be diametric opposites and never able to work together can actually allow you to effectively extend the term of protecting your invention? You need a lawyer because you need to do it right.

Or maybe you’ve written something. Let’s say you’re J.K. Rowling and you’ve just completed your very first “Harry Potter” book. You want all the protection you can get for that book. Do you know the ins and outs of obtaining and using that protection? You need a lawyer because you need to do it right.

Or you want to … ooh, ooh, ooh … start up a company that franchises its business methods and trademark (i.e., you’re Ray Croc) out to others. What do you need to do to start that franchise and comply with the state and federal laws that govern franchises? What business and legal models do you need to have in place? You need a lawyer because you need to do it right.

Or you don’t want to franchise, but you do want to license your intellectual property for others to use. How do you license out your intellectual property without creating a franchise? You need a lawyer because you need to do it right.

Or someone has handed you a contract to sign. It’s long and full of legal jargon. What does it actually say? Remember, lawyers use words differently than most people do, and it’s lawyers who will interpret any contract you sign that goes south. You need a lawyer because you need to do it right.

You need a lawyer because you’re in business and you need to do it right.

Delain Law Office, PLLC


Hail and Farewell

The franchisee who developed and named the Big Mac died on Monday night. Jim Delligatti, an early franchisee of Ray Croc’s, ran several McDonald’s in the Pittsburgh area (he ended up with nearly 50 stores). The first Big Mac sold in Mr. Delligatti’s restaurant on McKnight Road in Ross Township for $0.45 … that’s right, the first Big Macs sold for 45 cents.

Ray Croc and his business advisors must have seen the genius of that sandwich and McDonald’s ran with it. All those “two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun” started in Pittsburgh and went franchise-wide in 1968.

Mr. Delligatti was 98.

Pets and Property

This post is a little off-topic.

Dog ownership isn’t about intellectual property and cases that crop up in the course of dog ownership are not about intellectual property, but there’s an interesting case brewing in Georgia for all those who love their dogs … cats … hamsters … goldfish … octopods … hermit crabs … animals. As an animal lover, I cannot resist posting about it.

An owner family spent many thousands of dollars on the care of their pet dachshund, who may have been given a drug in error by the kennel at which they boarded the dog. The dachshund eventually died of its injuries from that overdose, and the owners sued the kennel, demanding that the kennel pay the hefty vet bills for their beloved pet.

If the dog, not a purebred or service animal, were treated as the law habitually treats pets, the owners would be owed precisely zero in damages. But these folks argued that this dog was special to them, she was their friend, their companion, their family member; she was not just property and should not be valued as such.

The high court in Georgia is considering whether a pet — regardless of lineage or training — is worth more than its monetary sale value. How should damages to beloved family pets be decided?

Let’s hope Georgia makes the right decision and overturns centuries of case law that holds that a pet is nothing more than property, like a chair or a table.

BigLaw vs SmallLaw

BigLaw is charging $1,500 per hour for partners’ time.

I won’t raise my rates; I’m happy with them, I live decently with them, my cats live like the royalty they are with them, and I don’t need to raise them. Geez … $1,500.00 per hour … that’s absurd.

I invite any BigLaw clients who don’t want to pay those rates to reach out and try working with smaller, more cost-effective firms. Our work is every bit as good as that you get from BigLaw firms, our lawyers graduated from top-tier law schools (my law school was #3 in the nation in IP the year I graduated), we handle your matters personally and promptly, and at least I would never even THINK of charging you $1,500 per hour.

We don’t have mahogany offices; our conference room may, in fact, be borrowed from another law firm or even from the public library. That cuts down on the overhead you pay for at $1,500 per hour with a BigLaw firm. We might not be located in midtown Manhattan, but that’s what phones and email are for, and Schenectady office space is WAY less expensive than is office space in midtown Manhattan. And we can often come see you at YOUR offices (yeah … you don’t have to come see us). Have laptop, will travel!

The one potential downside is that smaller law firms tend to concentrate in one or two areas rather than working in every aspect of the law; that’s simply because we have a smaller stable of attorneys in the firm. However, when needed, we can quickly and efficiently put together a dream team to handle any particular matter (I often work with other lawyers and their clients who need IP counsel or business law counsel or even just transactional counsel). We know how to quickly and effectively put together a team of attorneys whose skills are targeted to your needs — and we’re not bound by the borders of our own firm for that.

Think about it.

AVVO Gets Sued for Using a Lawyer’s Professional Information Without Consent

According to the ABA Journal, a Chicago lawyer is suing the lawyer review and ranking site Avvo “…contending that the company’s online lawyer directory is violating a[n Illinois] state statute by using professional information on the site without permission.”

It’s an odd suit. Evidently, this Chicago lawyer is aggrieved that Avvo compiles data, including her name, from publicly available sources, then uses that compiled information to market its attorney marketing services to lawyers. She sees this as Avvo profiting from her personal information. She hasn’t paid Avvo for its services and doesn’t want them to be able to use her information for their own benefit. Since lots of other lawyers in Illinois have also not paid Avvo for their services but have their personal information used in this same way, this complaint is filed as a class action suit.

It’ll be interesting to see what Avvo’s response to this complaint is. I suspect they’ll basically tell the plaintiff that her suit is a bunch of hogwash, but we’ll see.

DirecTV and AT&T Merge

By now, everyone’s heard that AT&T is proposing to buy DirecTV for $48.5 billion in cash and stock.

I’m wondering why.

DirecTV and AT&T compete in a few marketplaces in the US, but not really in enough markets to justify a $48.5 billion takeover, especially in the current technological environment. DirecTV’s technology will do nothing to enhance AT&T’s current technology in that DirecTV does not offer internet service and AT&T cannot use it to improve their mobile service. More and more people watch video online, on sites like YouTube (owned by Google, Inc.) and Netflix, meaning the additional customer base for pay TV is likely to continue to dwindle (last year, the number of households that use pay TV actually dwindled). Satellite TV has its issues, too; when I had DirecTV, any interference with the direct line of vision between the dish and the satellite pixellated the picture or canceled the transmission altogether. Snowstorms and rain storms are examples of “interference with the direct line of vision.” In the Great Northeast, we get both on a regular basis.

Regulators are likely to have concerns over this merger, too. This would reduce the number of pay TV options available to consumers in about half of the US markets. Because decreased competition can have the effect of raised prices, this would seem to me not to be in the public’s best interest. This merger makes AT&T the second-largest provider of pay TV services, assuming all of the current customers stick with them (Comcast/Time-Warner is larger). Monopolies are not popular with regulators, either.

I can think of all these reasons for AT&T not to enter this merger; I can’t think of a single reason for them to do so.

So … why?

Google and Publishers Settle Their Suit

Well this part of the suit against the Google Library Project is done. The American Association of Publishers (AAP) has settled with Google.

Google, as you may know, took on the ambitious project of digitizing libraries to make that content available online. The Google Books site provides book excerpts for free. Not unexpectedly, this project really bothered copyright owners, and the AAP, the Author’s Guild, photographers and visual artists and several individuals filed suit to stop the project in 2005.

Although the full terms of the AAP settlement are confidential, the settlement, importantly, allows publishers to opt in or out of Google Books, and thus in or out of the digitization project.

The AAP settlement still does not resolve the authors’ separate suits, which are still pending in the Southern District of New York, still presided over by Judge Chin (sitting by designation after his elevation to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals).

Intellectual Property Insurance

You need to know this.

If you own any IP, what is your threshold for litigation? Rest assured, even the smallest businesses get involved with IP litigation, then find they can’t afford it because their general business liability policies don’t cover it. There is no need for you to be on your own in the IP courtroom; IP insurance can be a cost-effective way to handle the ever-rising costs associated with litigation of your IP rights.

I don’t endorse any particular carrier, but I found these videos on YouTube; they contain a good overall discussion of why you should carry IP insurance and of how IP insurance works.

IP Enforcement Insurance

IP Defense Insurance

Disney to Buy Marvel for $4 Billion – ABC News

Disney to Buy Marvel for $4 Billion – ABC News.

Wow. Just wow.

Disney is already among the biggest entertainment businesses in the world, what with the movies and the theme parks and the hotel properties and the Broadway shows and all the rest of it. I believe they even have an inroad in the comics market (if they don’t now, I’m sure they did when I was a kid; I remember Mickey Mouse comics). Marvel has a thoroughly different look from Disney, so this will be an interesting evolution. I wonder if Superman will develop the Disney eyes?

Bailouts could cost U.S. 23.7 TRILLION dollars

via Bailouts could cost U.S. $23 trillion – Eamon Javers – POLITICO.com.

Twenty-three trillion seven hundred billion dollars.


Get a load of that number. It’s incomprehensibly huge.

According to the cited article, if a government spent $1 million per day going back to the birth of Christ — um, that’s over 2000 years — that would barely be $1 trillion. Now multiply that by 23.7.

Granted, the full pricetag would require numerous simultaneous system failures, but we all know that Murphy lives and that the system, when it can fail, will do just that.

Where will we get $23.7 trillion, over and above the ordinary cost of business of running the government? You don’t need me to answer that question for you. It will come out of your pocket and mine. Taxes will fund this massive sum.

Maybe we, as taxpayers in this great country of ours, should simply let the big corporations go under. Twenty-three point seven trillion dollars. Geez. The cost of the unemployment blitz that would come from allowing corporate America to fail wouldn’t come anywhere near $23.7 trillion.

It’s a cost-benefit analysis; what would provide the most benefit for the least cost? Somehow, I suspect that $23.7 trillion is the greatest cost.