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Archives: Ask David

When Does My Business Need a Waiver?


There are a lot of circumstances when a well-crafted waiver document will be an asset for your business. A waiver is simply an agreement whereby someone agrees not to bring a legal claim in the case of a loss or injury. You agree to waivers all the time, often without even knowing it. When you go to a concert or a game, your ticket almost always includes language stating that you are assuming certain risks and agreeing not to sue. The same thing happens when you enter a parking lot, go in for a medical procedure, or attend a conference….

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What is the New Trademark Office Rule Requiring U.S. Attorneys?


The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) recently issued a new rule that affects all trademark filings owned by parties based outside of the U.S. The rule is that, essentially, everyone who’s doing business with the Trademark Office must be represented by an attorney licensed to practice law in the United States. The new rule went into effect on August 3, 2019. The previous status quo didn’t include any such requirement. Foreign trademark owners could be represented by a foreign attorney or could simply handle their own U.S. trademark filings without legal counsel. The USPTO’s press release regarding the…

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ASK DAVID: How Does Marriott Show the Value of a Varied Trademark Portfolio?


Recently Josh Barro wrote an article in New York Magazine asking “Why Do Hotel Companies Have So Many Brands?” The article begins: In 2016, Marriott Hotels, which had 19 hotel brands, merged with Starwood, which had 11. They didn’t abolish any brands in the merger, and so the company faced a challenge: How to explain to customers, or even to its own employees, what makes all 30 of these brands different from each other. That’s right – Marriott alone has 30 different hotel brand names (or “flags” as they apparently call them in the hotel industry). These include Marriott, Sheraton,…

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ASK DAVID: What’s the Controversy Over the Aloha Poke Trademark?


A Chicago-based restaurant chain serving poke, a Hawaiian dish of raw fish and rice, recently faced a branding controversy over its ALOHA POKE® trademark. Since obtaining the trademark in 2016, the owners of Aloha Poke Co. sent a cease and desist letter—a legal notice directing another party to cease an activity—to several businesses with similar names nationwide. Several of them happened to be native Hawaiian-owned companies. Aloha Poke Co. sought to stop others from using the specific phrase ALOHA POKE for business purposes, citing trademark infringement. However, the situation boiled over in 2018 with activists and a Hawaii state representative…

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