infringing upon a trademark

What You Should Do if Someone is Infringing Upon Your Trademark

Do you have a registered trademark that is being infringed upon? Check out this helpful guide to put a stop to it immediately.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office receives half a million applications every year. About three-quarters of them get registered. That leaves a lot of people and companies without trademark protection.

It also leaves a lot of people and companies open to trademark infringement. Of course, not all cases have the intention of causing harm and are accidental. Others do have malicious intent.

In all cases, they’re infringing upon your rights as the trademark holder. Trademark infringement is a complicated situation that requires legal expertise. In this article, we explain the steps you should take if you feel your registered trademark is being infringed upon.

What is Trademark Infringement?

When you start your business, you protect yourself from fraud. You make sure your computers have anti-virus and anti-malware installed to keep from getting hacked.

You spend hours making sure your site is working and your ordering process is flawless. You brainstorm with partners and peers on ways to market your brand.

You design logo after logo until you come up with the perfect one. You go through the trademark process with the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office. Before you know it, your name and logo are all yours!

That means, that only you can use your business name and logo. There are some confusing exceptions. For instance, Delta Airlines and Delta Faucet Company share the same name but have nothing to do with each other.

Trademark infringement happens when there is confusion between the use of two logos and whether it’s getting used on competing goods and services.

There’s 100% chance you’ve never tried to buy a plane ticket and ended up with a new faucet instead. There’s no confusion between the two Deltas, so there can be both an airline and faucet manufacturer with the same name.

Now, you trademarks do get infringed upon all the time. If you’ve ever called all tissue “Kleenex,” all lip balm “Chapstick,” or all headache medicine “Asprin,” you’ve technically infringed upon a trademark.

Don’t worry, these specific cases (and Thermos, Band-Aid, Velcro, etc.) get categorized as generic trademarks. This happens when a product is so significant or popular that it becomes synonymous with an entire class of products.

In other words, if you ask a maintenance worker where the building’s Dumpster is, you won’t get sued.

How You Know Someone is Infringing Upon Your Trademark

If you suspect someone is using your company name or company logo without permission, you have to prove it. A court of law takes many things into consideration when hearing a trademark infringement case.

The first thing they’ll do is apply the “likelihood of confusion” test. It’s actually an umbrella term used by various federal courts. Most courts use the same factors to figure out if a logo use causes confusion.

Their goal is to determine if a consumer will get confused by the products which can damage your business. The 6th Circuit Court uses an “8-Factor Trademark Infringement Test.”

What You Should Do If Your Trademark Gets Infringed Upon

If you pass the test and can prove confusion, your next step should be contacting a trademark infringement attorney. They specialize in handling cases like yours and will guide you through the legal process.

Send a Cease-and-Desist Letter

The first step that’s most common in a trademark infringement case is sending a cease-and-desist letter. You can do this on your own, but you should get legal advice to ensure you’re using proper terminology and covering all your bases.

The letter demands that another entity stops using your trademarked name or logo at once. It’s possible they didn’t realize they were using a registered trademark and stop using it.

If their intentions were a little more nefarious, they could ignore your letter and continue using your trademark. In this instance, you want to speak to a lawyer about filing a lawsuit.

File a Lawsuit

If the person or entity receives your letter and continues to use your trademark, it’s time to file a lawsuit. The suit will get filed in federal court if it spans more than one state. If the infringement is local, it may get filed in a state court.

The purpose of your suit is to stop your trademark from getting infringed upon. But you may be able to collect damages if:

  • You can prove your business got hurt financially as a result of the trademark infringement.
  • You can prove the alleged infringer made money from using your trademark.

There a few things to remember if you file a lawsuit. The first is that you must file for a trademark in the first place!

In court, you can argue on “common law” rights to a name. But, your chances for winning your case are greater if you filed for federal trademark protection with the USPTO.

As an entrepreneur or small business owner, you have a lot on your plate when you’re getting started. Filing for a trademark may be the last thing on your mind. But if you don’t and you find someone is using your name or logo after you’re operating and established, the fight becomes who used it first.

The other note of importance is that you must actively use your trademark. You can’t stop other businesses from using a name or logo unless you’re using it in the marketplace to identify your goods or service.

A court will give you minimal protection if you’ve held a trademark for years but haven’t used it.

How You Can Prevent Trademark Infringement

When it comes to prevention, you can ensure no one is infringing upon your trademark by monitoring it. Like not actively using your trademark, you can lose some of the federal protections by not monitoring it.

Specialized software is available that monitors trademark infringement. Reputable trademark infringement attorneys also have this software and can monitor for you. This is a proactive step in protecting your company name and logo that puts a stop to unauthorized uses.

A New Kind of Law Firm for a Data-Driven World

Your business and its trademark are unique. Don’t let anyone get away with infringing upon your livelihood. If you suspect someone is, you may need help proving it.

You need a lawyer that knows the effect of having your trademark infringed upon has on your business. That’s where Revision Legal comes in.

We’re a law firm that understands the connections between law, technology, and business. We’re experienced litigators who fight to protect online businesses.

If you feel your rights are being infringed upon, we can help. Contact us today and let us know how we can give you back your peace of mind.

how to trademark a product

How to Trademark a Product: The Ultimate Guide

Do you need to know how to trademark a product? Check out our ultimate guide to get started and protect your work today.

A trademark legal battle has waged over the word “Apple” for three decades. You see, the Beatles named their music company Apple Corps.

Eight years later Steve Jobs came along with Apple Inc. After decades of fighting, Apple Inc has paid almost $100 million to Apple Corp. They worked it out for now, but it is a lesson for all of us.

Knowing how to trademark a product can help you avoid situations like this. Avoiding a generic name and doing a thorough search would have helped prevent this from happening.

Keep reading our guide to find out the basics of trademark registration.

What Can Be Trademarked

You can trademark a word, symbol, device, or color. You can trademark anything that identifies your company and goods in the marketplace.

You can only trademark commercial marks. There are three types of trademarks you can get.

Trademarks and service marks are phrases, words, or symbols. A Trademark indicates a good while a service mark indicates a service.

Collective marks work like a trademark but signify a group. This lets the different members of the group benefit from the trademark.

Certification marks are for the characteristics of your product. For example, if your product has “100% silk”.

How to Trademark a Product

Once you have a chosen mark that you want to register, you have 5 steps to take. The first step in the process is to check that you have a unique mark.

Step 1: Search for Similar trademarks

Search the USPTO database for similar marks. Do not focus on looking for exact matches.

Anything that looks or sounds similar can trigger a rejection. Take your time with this search, if your application gets rejected your fee.

It is smart to hire a trademark attorney before you begin this step. They will understand the database and the best way to find any potentially confusing marks.

Step 2: Prepare and File your Application with USPTO

You’ve done your search and there are no marks like yours. Now you’ll want to prepare your application for submission.

Gather proof of how you are currently using the mark. This proof is called your specimen.

Step 3: Review Your Application

About three months after you submit your application, the USPTO will assign you an attorney. This attorney reviews your application and does one of two things.

He may respond to your application with a request for calcification. If he’s happy with your application he will approve it for the next step.

Sep 4: Review of Trademark by the Public

The USPTO attorney will give your mark a publication date. On this day your trademark gets published in the Official Gazette.

There is a 30-day window after publication for someone to object to your trademark. They would need to make this objection on the basis that your mark will impact their trademark.

Step 5: Use your Registered Trademark

If no one objects during step four then you get your trademark. About three months after step four is complete you will receive a trademark certificate in the mail.

Once your registration is complete you can start using the trademark symbol after your mark. This is the “R” in a circle.

How To Speed up the Process

You will start to hear from the USPTO about your application within 3 months of filing. The whole process will take at least 6 months though.

Often the process can take a year or longer. There are a few steps you can take to speed up the process though.

Read our post about trademark registration process here.

Choose a Strong Mark

Not all names and symbols get approved. The stronger and more unique your mark, the more likely it will get approved.

Make up a word, or choose a word that is not associated with the industry. You can also pick a name suggesting the character of service without naming it.

Don’t Choose a Confusing Mark

What is the likelihood of confusion of your mark?

The purpose of registering a trademark is to protect your image in the market. By choosing an easily confused name you are likely to have it rejected.

Choose a mark too close to a competitor and you are likely to have it opposed. A search for similar marks should help you avoid this before you submit your application.

Begin Using Your Mark ASAP

If you are already using your mark you can select “use in commerce” on your application. This gives you one less step to do during the application process.

Make Sure Your Application is Correct

Making mistakes in your application will cause a delay in the process. These mistakes are easy to fix, but they take time.

Respond to the USPTO Promptly

If you receive correspondence from the USPTO you need to respond for your application to keep moving forward. The deadline to respond is 6 months, but you shouldn’t wait until the deadline to reply.

How Long Are Trademarks Good For

Once approved, you have trademark protection for ten years. This means that every ten years you will need to renew your registration.

Get Help to File For Your Trademark

The first step in getting a trademark registration is to come up with a unique mark. This can be a word, symbol or device.

Make sure that you choose a strong and unique mark. Then begin using it right away.

Do a search for similar trademarks that are currently registered. Make sure that yours is not similar or easily confused with any of them.

Once you are confident you have a unique mark, create an application. Review it for any errors and then submit it to the USPTO.

Once your application is submitted, follow the lead of the USPTO. Respond to any communications they send so your application will continue to process.

These steps are detailed and can take months to complete. If you are unsure of how to trademark a product the best option is to get help for a trademark attorney.

Get help today with registering your mark for trademark protection.

meme stealing

Meme Stealing and More: 7 Times Someone Sued Over a Meme

 

Meme stealing may sound like harmless behavior, but recently cases have been filed. Check out these 7 and learn the laws behind creating memes here.

Memes are nothing new. In his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, Richard Dawkins noted the primitive nature of the rapid spread of ideas, or memes, in a people group.

Primitive is the perfect word to describe memes.

While they’re mostly meant in good fun, memes play loose with intellectual property. There’s a fine line before laughter becomes litigious, and meme-based lawsuits are on the rise.

Catch up on the ins and outs of meme stealing.

1. Grumpy Cat

Tardar Sauce is a grumpy faced internet sensation. Better known as Grumpy Cat, she’s the veritable online offspring of Oscar the Grouch. She struggles with mornings, hunger, and her disdain for affection.

Grumpy Cat’s fame has gotten her public appearances, complete with a rider for bottles of water and a comfy seat. It’s also earned her a lawsuit.

Grumpy Cat Limited received $710,001 in damages after filing suit against a beverage company called Grenade, which used Grumpy Cat’s image to sell unlicensed merchandise. While Grenade did have the rights to produce a line of “Grumpy Cat Grumppuccino” iced coffees, they also made her the mascot of a roasted coffee line and sold t-shirts.

When presented with the argument, the jury found in favor of the meme.

2. Pepe the Frog

Pepe the Frog is a somewhat lascivious looking anthropomorphic frog who spends a lot of time lamenting “that moment when…” People tend to dress him up and photoshop hats on him in the course of their meme making. Why not?

It’s all in good fun until it turns political.

The alt-right designated the frog as their internet figurehead, using him to promote the Trump campaign and dressing him in Klan robes and military helmets. A painter in Missouri began selling paintings depicting Pepe holding a rifle in front of the White House.

InfoWars, a radio show turned robust internet juggernaut, used Pepe the Frog on a MAGA poster available for sale on their website. The poster finds Pepe in company with Roger Stone, Kellyanne Conway, and, of course, Donald Trump.

This has all led to a plea to #SavePepe and several lawsuits. Matt Furie, the frog’s creator, after issuing a takedown notice, has sued the painter and InfoWars. He’d like to see Pepe return to his amicable roots and enjoy his golden years in peace like his cousins Senor Frog and Michigan J.

3. Ziggi’s Mullet

Ali Ziggi Mosslmani was just a kid having fun at a party until the internet started doing math equations on his half shaved head. The rest of his head featured a bold cascade of shaggy locks, a mullet.

The Internet loves a mullet. It loves to make fun of a mullet at least.

Ziggi’s mullet has been used to work out the Pythagorean theorem, it has been photoshopped as a skunk, and it has been turned into a Pin the Tail on the Donkey game. Even the Daily Mail Australia and KIIS radio got in on the teasing.

Mosslmani has sued them for defamation.

4. Attractive Convict

Mugshots aren’t renowned for their flattery of the subject, but Meagan Simmons managed to take a good one. Her steady gaze and telltale orange jumpsuit took the Internet by storm. It got people asking for her cell number and wondering if looks could kill.

Though no one wants to be reminded of the night they got a DUI, there’s not much Simmons could do until the website InstantCheckmate.com used her mugshot in an ad promotion, thus monetizing the meme. She filed suit against them for exploitation.

5. Adam Holland

Because nothing seems off limits when you’re online, memes can quickly become cruel. Such is the case with Adam Holland.

Adam has Down syndrome. A picture of him at 17 proudly holding up a drawing went viral. Meme creators replaced his artwork with drawings and phrases of their own, some of them derogatory and libelous.

Tampa’s WHPT-FM, the Bone, used the picture for the header of their dumb news section. They changed his drawing to read “Retarded News.”

Holland’s parents sued the radio station and the website signgenerator.org, which devised a “Retarded Handicap Generator” using the image. They reached a settlement for $150,000.

6. Ludacris

Defamation suits are not the only legal action inspired by memes. Copyright infringement is also having its day in court. Rapper and actor Ludacris was sued when he posted a meme belonging to LittleThings, Inc.

The image in question is an illustration of a busty woman applying what appears to be antiperspirant under her breasts. The depiction of the full-figured woman’s plight in hot weather, sweat beneath her bosoms, is a playful nod to summer.

LittleThings was less amused by Ludacris’ “ill-gotten gains,” profiting off of their intellectual content.

7. Self-Proclaimed “Meme Master” Sued for Meme Stealing

Elliot Tebele is the man behind the social media presence known as “F–k Jerry.” He’s got an all-caps quip for any of life’s situations.

He’s speared salads and luggage restrictions. His best work is topical everyday observations: sleeping in when your partner gets ready, trolling your husband’s ex-girlfriends, even people speeding past you and getting stuck at the next light.

But is his best work his own?

Tebele is being sued by the father of a 16-year old who claims the “F–k Jerry” curator stole his son’s Instagram account. After a promotion with the account ended, Tebele is being accused of taking over the meme-centric profile, which now has over 3 million followers.

Honorable Mention: No Copyright Infringement Intended

Taylor Swift has a history of taking legal action against perceived threats to her bottom line. She shut down Etsy shops selling merchandise made by her own fans. And she tends to trademark lyrics from her songs that are otherwise common phrases.

She can’t seem to shake it off.

Noting her tendency to litigate, people have taken to posting lengthy disclaimers after mentioning the singer or her lyrics on social media. Covering your bases never goes out of style.

Has Someone Been Meme to You?

Bad puns may not be illegal, but the jury’s still out on meme stealing. If you’ve found yourself in the middle of a fair use text war or if someone stole your meme, let us help you.

We specialize in Internet law, and we know how to provide the protection you need.

buy an online business

How to Buy an Online Business and Receive More Profit

Do you notice an online business you would like to buy? Before you make an offer, know how to buy an online business. Here are tips to receive more profit.

Wondering how to make more money without doing more work? You might want to buy an online business.

Every 30 seconds, over $1.2 million dollars is generated by the e-commerce world. With numbers like this, it’s easy to see why buying online businesses is so lucrative.

However, anytime you invest your money in something new, it pays to know exactly what to expect and what the best approach is going to be. That’s what we’re here for. In this guide, we’ll break down exactly what you need to know to buy and make money from a successful online business. Keep reading, and get ready for a whole new world of income opportunities.

Why Buy an Online Business?

Maybe you’ve considered becoming an entrepreneur. You could build yourself a brand-new business from scratch.

You’ll need to find the perfect niche, research your target audience, build a website, create great content, and figure out the best marketing approach. Don’t forget your social media presence, and creating actual products or promoting affiliate products. The list goes on and on.

Even with all this work, it will take some time for your online business to start making money. For months or even years, you could be sinking funds into the project while waiting for it to become profitable. But then again, you could bypass that whole process and buy an online business that’s already profitable instead.

How to Choose a Quality Internet Business for Sale

When you buy an online business, you’re not just purchasing a website. You’re buying a fully functional business that already has customers and products. You’re buying marketing methods that have been proven to get new leads and sales. You might also be buying a social media presence, ad campaigns that are already going, or even employees and assistants.

Once you buy it, you’ve taken over. You can keep letting it run the way it’s already running, or you can make some changes to try to get more profits. For example, maybe you see something the current management isn’t doing that could help get more sales. After you purchase an online business, it’s yours to do whatever you want with.

Look at the Track Record

While looking at online businesses for sale, make sure to check the track record of profits and sales before you buy. See the financials for yourself – don’t rely on what the seller says.

However, you shouldn’t put your money toward an online business just because it makes a lot of money. Although the profits are important, you also need to be sure to buy a company in a niche that you’re interested in. This will ensure that you’ll stay committed to it in the long run. Plus, if you have an interest in the niche, you’re more likely to be on top of relevant industry changes.

Consider Training

When you buy the business, you shouldn’t have to figure out how to run it. Most sellers include a training in the purchase to show you how it all works. This lets you take a shortcut around most of the work that goes into building a successful business. The company you buy should already be running well – you just need to learn how to do it yourself.

Weigh the Price

Of course, the up-front cost of buying an established online business is higher than the costs of starting one yourself. Although you’re almost certain to save money in the long run, you’ll have to consider if the cost of buying is worth circumventing all the startup work.

The more successful the site, the more you can expect to pay. You can pay tens or hundreds of thousands for a lucrative site. However, small online companies can be found for hundreds or thousands of dollars, too.

To figure out a fair price to pay, try multiplying the business’s annual profits by two or three. Don’t forget to look at whether or not you’re getting a good domain name, assets, branding, lots of site traffic, a strong social media presence, and a good email list in the deal.

In addition to those factors, you should look for an online business that’s growing, to maximize your investment. The best businesses to buy don’t hinge on a single product – they have multiple income streams. They should also attract traffic from a number of different sources.

Look for in-place marketing systems, and revenues that stay consistent across months. If these factors are all present, you know your money is going to go a long way.

Where to Find Online Businesses For Sale

There are a lot of good e-commerce sites you can buy, and there are quite a few places you can look for them, too.

However, no matter where you find the site, you’ll want to be sure to do your research. Just because it’s listed on a reputable source doesn’t mean the site itself is high quality.

Your first step is to decide on the niche you want to target. Then, you can look up niche-specific online marketplaces where that kind of business is for sale. On these marketplaces, you can quickly see the stats for hundreds or thousands of businesses, making it easy to compare. Sites like Flippa and Shopify are some of the most popular marketplaces, but there are plenty more.

When you see one you like, check it out for yourself. If everything looks good, message the owner through the online marketplace for next steps. Ask any questions that will help you make your decision. If the seller is legit, they should answer your questions to the best of their ability.

Ready to Buy an Online Business?

When you buy an online business, you’re not just buying the current profits and customer base. You’re buying the potential for growth, and making an investment in your future.

Owning an online business – or a few – is one of the best ways to set up income streams that you can rely on for years to come. However, you’ll need to protect those investments, too. Wondering how to keep your money safe? Check out our guide here.

If you’re considering buying an established online e-commerce business, contact the E-commerce Attorneys at Revision Legal today using the contact form on this page, or call us directly at 855-473-8474.

data breach statistics

Top Data Breaches of 2018: Hackers Find New Methods

We periodically update this post with recent data breach statistics. Now that we’re into 2018, it’s time to look at the top security breaches in 2018, plus review 2017 and previous years.

At Revision Legal, we know that cyber-attacks are a constant threat. The number of data breaches is large and the amount of customers affected is staggering. Data breaches are bad for business and can be even worse for customers.

January 2018: 115 Cyberattacks

Winner: Health South-East RHF, a large healthcare management organization in southeast Norway — 2.9 million patients

On January 8, 2018, hackers or a group of hackers broke into the computer systems of Health South-East RHF, a healthcare organization that manages hospitals in Norway’s southeast region.

The hackers potentially stole — the extent of the theft is still undetermined — patient information on 2.9 million people, which is about half the population of Norway.

The information accessed included all electronically stored patient information including names, addresses, insurance providers and more. See report here.

Read more

how to claim a domain name

How to Claim a Domain Name and Secure Your Website URL

How to Claim a Domain Name and Secure Your Website URL

Did you come up with your company name and are working on your website? Reserve your name before someone else takes it! Here’s how to claim a domain name and how to secure it.

Coming up with a domain name for your website can be confusing and time-consuming. Some people coin domain names from their names, but it does not always work well for businesses.

Once you have decided on a decent name, you need to claim it to prevent anyone else from taking it. You also need to protect it from possible disputes, trademark violations, and domain squatting.

The following guide on how to claim a domain name should help you understand the process.

Claiming a domain name requires strategy. Observe the following practices to invent an appropriate URL for your website.

1. The Name Should Reflect Your Interests

Your website will become your ground for implementing all your digital efforts. Therefore, selecting a domain name which communicates your product is important.

When developing a domain name, you should think about how the name looks and sounds. Avoid making the name too long for your audience to remember. Furthermore, some platforms like Twitter limit the number of characters.

The domain name has to appeal to the market and evoke the desired inference for it to attract traffic to your website. A strategy which works for many businesses is forming a name from their brand. Such names promote the awareness and recognition of one’s brand on the market.

If you haven’t developed a brand yet, you can incorporate a witty call to action in the domain name. The name should draw the attention of the desired audience at a glance.

2. Choose a Suitable Domain

The choice of a domain may depend on the type of website you want to register. Most of the top level domains (TLD) are suitable for specific niches, but some are for general websites. Here are some examples of TLDs and their intended application area.

.Com

Initially, the purpose of .com was to imply the commercial intention of a website. Today, the domain is widespread in various fields. Most people registering websites go for .com perhaps because of the domain’s popularity.

.Net

This domain is predominant in networking technology industries. Some companies which use .net are network operators, advertising agencies, and Internet service providers.

.Org

This is another TLD which has veered off the original focus on nonprofits. Nowadays, you will find commercial enterprises with URLs containing .org.

.Country

Domains which contain country names are suitable for local businesses, organizations, or communities. They are useful in targeting a regional market. A good example is .us.

.Info

One purpose of this domain was to reduce the preference of .com among entities across the globe. It’s common with various newspapers and information portals.

3. Identify a Domain Name Registrar

The work of a domain name registrar is to reserve and manage internet domain names. Some DNS hosting providers also facilitate the registration of domain names. Registration of your preferred name is critical, and you should do it fast before someone else does it.

How to Secure Your Website URL

Domain security is vital not only for yourself but also for those who visit your website. People are aware of the risk of cyber-attacks. They are worried when opening websites to avoid becoming victims of hacking.

Some domain owners do not employ strict security measures when developing their website security policies. Unfortunately, poor domain management can result in irrevocable damage and a poor reputation for your business.

A hacker can alter the accessibility setting of your website if they can access your domain name control panel. Losing the domain name of your website can bring your business to a standstill. You can take several measures to safeguard your domain name from loss or theft

1. Secure Your Accounts

Your passwords should be strong to prevent unauthorized access to your system. The key here is to use random characters which are hard to guess. A password generator can help you create secure passwords.

Don’t trust anyone with your account credentials. Consider investing in two-factor authentication for the access of your account. When someone enters the password, for example, the system can issue a code via SMS to verify the identity of the person.

2. Use Antispyware Program

Invest in an antispyware software and keep it updated to prevent key-logging programs from stealing your usernames and passwords.

All applications in your business should be up to date. Outdated software is a soft target for malware and viruses and can lead to the theft of data.

3. Enhance your Domain Privacy

Website owners must provide accurate contact information about themselves to the registrar. The domain registrar forwards this record to WHOIS. Your data at WHOIS is available to the public.

Thieves steal such information and impersonate website owners in an attempt to transfer their domains. You can go for private domain registration to avoid revealing your contact information. Your domain registrar can offer privacy by replacing your information with theirs.

4. Update Your Registration Information

Ensure that your domain name contact information with your registrar is accurate. Updated details will enable your registrar to inform you if there is some suspicious activity targeting your domain name. Your infrastructure should enable you to view your registrar’s notifications immediately.

5. Secure Your Website

Internet users are confident when opening secured websites since they pose a reduced risk of leaking customer information. Such sites have URLs starting with https. Your site should have an SSL (or TLS) certificate to protect your audience.

6. Use The Domain Lock Service

Most domain registrars provide a domain transfer lock which prevents your domain name from getting transferred without your knowledge. You can ask your registrar to provide a registry lock even if it may cost you some amount. This should prevent an intruder from making changes to your DNS information without your authorization.

How to Claim a Domain Name – Final Thoughts

Domain name security is perhaps not a priority for some website owners. However, it should be one of the first considerations to make when opening a website given the rate at which cyber-crime has risen. Hackers are becoming clever by the day, and you have to avert them before they strike.

New website owners should learn how to claim a domain name before launching their sites. They must also stay abreast of new internet security trends to keep their URLs secure. They should deter hackers with a combination of security measures to seal all loopholes.

Protecting your online brand, website, reputation, and domain is important If you need help with legal issues, an internet lawyer can help.

Contact Revision Legal’s attorneys with the contact form on this page, or call us at 855-473-8474.

how to sell your business

How to Sell Your Business: 6 Mistakes to Avoid When Selling Your Online Business

Did your online business receive success, and now major corporations want to buy your business? Before you agree, know how to sell your business and avoid these 6 mistakes.

Do you own an online business that’s turned into a massive success over time?

If so, you might currently be fielding offers from major corporations that want to purchase your business and make it even bigger than it already is. Many of those offers might be very lucrative and could potentially change your financial situation and, to a larger degree, your life.

But before you decide to accept an offer from a buyer, you need to know how to sell your business. More specifically, you need to know how to avoid making a costly mistake that could come back to bite you later.

Here are 6 common mistakes that you’ll want to avoid when selling your online business.

1. Failing to Plan Ahead for a Future Sale

Many online business owners make a very crucial mistake long before they ever agree to sell their businesses. They fail to plan ahead for the possibility of a sale and end up paying the price for it.

From the moment you start running your business, keep accurate records and organize all the files related to your business. Consider what you might need at some point down the line if you ever decide to sell your business.

Selling an online business is a long process that involves digging through records and taking a good, long look at a business’ history. If your files are disorganized and all over the place, it could delay a sale or even put the kibosh on it.

2. Waiting Entirely Too Long to Sell

Your online business is your baby. You don’t want to sell it to just anyone, and you also don’t want to sell it when there’s still a chance for it to grow and become so much more profitable.

That’s all very understandable. But at the same time, you also don’t want to wait too long and miss out on the chance to sell your online business for top dollar.

You could end up missing out on a big payday if you put off selling your online business because you’re too attached to it. That doesn’t mean you need to jump at the first offer you receive. But it does mean you should carefully consider any offers that come in on it, even if it’s not technically on the market.

By taking this approach, you’ll avoid missing out on a small window of opportunity that could net you hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars.

3. Picking the Wrong Broker to Handle a Sale

If you’ve never gone through the process of selling an online business on your own, you probably don’t have the first clue about how to sell your business.

You will, therefore, need to bring in a broker or a consultant who can help you walk through everything. For a fee, they’ll help sell your business to the highest bidder and get you a great return on the original investment you made in your company.

At least, that’s how things should work out. But unfortunately, far too many online business owners choose the wrong broker to handle a sale and end up losing out on money in the end.

Find an experienced broker with a clear plan in place for getting you maximum value for your online business. They should be prepared to do whatever it takes to ensure you’re happy with the entire selling process.

4. Choosing Not to Market Your Online Business to Buyers Yourself

While your broker or consultant should technically work on your behalf to promote your business to buyers, that doesn’t mean you should just hang back and do nothing.

No one–and we do mean no one–knows your online business like you do! So get out there and help sell it to anyone who might be interested in buying it. Allow the passion you have for your business to drive you as you work to make a sale.

This doesn’t mean you should step on your broker’s toes or go overboard when it comes to marketing your business. You could actually bring the value of your business down if you come across as looking desperate to sell.

But this is your business, after all. Do whatever you can to encourage buyers to make better offers than the ones that are coming in.

5. Putting a Price Tag on Your Business That’s Too High or Too Low

How much is your online business actually worth at the moment?

That’s a tough question to answer. But it’s a question you have to contemplate as you prepare to sell. If you attach a price tag to your business that’s too high, companies won’t be interested in it, and if it’s too low, you’ll miss out on making as much money on it as you should.

Use your broker’s knowledge and your own research to generate a price that falls somewhere in the sweet spot. You want to come up with a price you’re happy with for your business.

6. Agreeing to Sell Your Business to an Inexperienced Buyer

Once you sell your online business, it’ll be out of your hands.

But you will always have a connection to it. And in some cases, people might even associate the business with you.

That means you shouldn’t just sell your business to anyone. Look for a qualified buyer who has the experience it takes to move your business up in the world.

Try talking to those interested in buying your online business so that you can get a sense of what they plan to do with it. You won’t have much say in how they actually move forward. But it’ll be nice to gauge how you’re business is going to grow once it’s under new ownership.

Learn More About How to Sell Your Business Today

The only real way to learn how to sell your business is by actually doing it. You’re inevitably going to make a few small mistakes along the way. But it’s important to avoid the big ones that could cost you.

If you need help selling your business, obtain services that are designed to make online business sales a breeze. You’ll feel more confident in the decisions you make when you have a helping hand. Contact Revision Legal’s attorneys with the contact form on this page, or call us at 855-473-8474.

ecommerce fraud

How to Prevent eCommerce Fraud and Protect Your Online Store

Half of eCommerce businesses fall victim to eCommerce fraud, costing up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. Here’s how to protect your business.

You think your e-commerce business is going well. You watch the sales roll in, your shipping process is running well, and you’re excited to check your bank account. When you do, though, you realize you’ve made far less than you thought you had. As you investigate, you find out that chargebacks from credit card companies are the problem.

This story is all too common among e-commerce businesses. E-commerce fraud takes a chunk out of their profits without them realizing it. On top of your bottom line, a high chargeback rate also discourages credit card companies from working with you.

If you’re ready to step up your business’ protection, get the lowdown on e-commerce fraud here.

What is E-Commerce Fraud?

The term “ecommerce fraud” can describe a few different things.

One type of ecommerce fraud occurs when someone uses a different person’s account or credit card to make a purchase on your site.

Sometimes this happens when the person gets access to the victim’s account on your site so they don’t need to enter credit card information. Another type of e-commerce fraud is a data breach, which is when someone hacks into your database to steal your customers’ data.

In this article, we’re referring to the first type of e-commerce fraud. In many cases, the customer notices the fraudulent charge and alerts their credit card company. The credit card company reverses the charge, and you lose the money they paid you.

Customers often don’t notice fraudulent charges until weeks or months later. If you’ve already shipped a product when the chargeback occurs, you’re out the cost of the product.

Tips to Prevent E-Commerce Fraud

If you aren’t careful, even small e-commerce fraud purchases can add up and cost you a bundle. To protect your business, follow these tips:

1. Adhere to PCI Standards

You should already be doing this, but it’s so important that it’s worth stating. The Payment Card Industry, or PCI, has security standards for every e-commerce company to follow.

These standards will also go a long way toward making your transactions more secure. They also have direct consequences, though. If you don’t adhere to PCI security standards, you’re vulnerable to lawsuits. Credit card companies may also decline to work with you, bringing your business to a fast halt.

2. Use the Address Verification System

The Address Verification System, or AVS, is an existing tool to help you secure your business. The AVS verifies that the customer’s billing address matches the one their credit card company has on file.

Running a customer’s payment information through the AVS is one more safeguard against e-commerce fraud. The system is already in place, so you can give big rewards from the minimal effort it requires.

3. Require CVV Codes for Purchases

A credit card’s three-digit or four-digit CVV code is an important part of e-commerce security. While online databases can store a customer’s credit card number and billing address, they can’t store the CVV code.

If you require the CVV code for online purchases, it’s unlikely that the data is stolen. It seems like a small addition to your payment process and it is, but it goes a long way in preventing fraud.

4. Set Tight Password Requirements

We’ve all set up an online account and become frustrated with restrictive password requirements. At the cost of a small inconvenience, though, you’re cutting down on your risk of e-commerce fraud.

Tightening your password policy protects your customers as well as your business. A smart password policy can require certain types of characters in your customers’ passwords so the passwords are harder to hack.

5. Look for Red Flags

There are certain red flags that a purchase might be fraudulent. Keeping an eye out for these red flags can help you detect fraud and block the transaction. The key signals include:

  • Inconsistent billing or shipping information
  • Unusual spending patterns
  • Purchases from unusual IP addresses (like an IP address in a different country than the customer’s typical location)

It’s not reasonable to comb through every purchase for these risk factors. Instead, set up automated alerts in your system to detect these red flags. You can instruct the system to decline the transaction or to alert you so you can verify the purchase before shipping the merchandise.

6. Don’t Ignore Software Updates

Most e-commerce sites use various types of purchased software instead of a customized system. If you’re using plug-ins or any other type of software, keep up with updates promptly.

In many cases, these updates are how the developer patches security holes. Even if security isn’t noted in the update description, it may be a part of the update, so install it as soon as possible.

7. Monitor for Chargebacks When They Happen

You can’t prevent 100% of ecommerce fraud. You can, however, minimize the damage it can do.

Set up your system to alert you in the case of a chargeback. If the chargeback applies to a purchase you haven’t shipped yet, put a hold on the shipment until you resolve the issue. If the purchase is, in fact, fraudulent, you can cancel the order.

8. Hire a Law Firm That Knows eCommerce

If you’re struggling with ecommerce fraud, it may be time to bring in some professionals. Look for a lawyer who can advise you about preventing fraud and about your options for legal recourse.

Remember that not all lawyers are experienced in the area of e-commerce law, so look for someone with this area of expertise.

Keeping Your E-Commerce Fraud to a Minimum

Running a successful e-commerce business is a complex endeavor, and it gets more complicated when you take criminals into account. Between chargebacks and a damaged reputation, e-commerce fraud takes down even an established online business.

Keeping up with Internet laws can lower your costs and protect you from larger problems down the line. The fraud prevention tips above are a start. For more tips for your e-commerce business, check out our legal tips blog.

If your online store has been a victim of e-commerce fraud, it’s time to talk to attorneys that can advise you about preventing fraud and about your options for legal recourse. Contact Revision Legal’s attorneys with the contact form on this page, or call us at 855-473-8474.

trademark infringement test

Is Someone Illegally Using Your Trademark? The 8 Factor Trademark Infringement Test

A court will apply the “likelihood of confusion” test in a trademark infringement suit. This is actually an umbrella term for several tests employed by the various federal circuits. However, most courts use a group of similar factors to assess confusion. The court will analyze and weigh each factor to determine if a consumer, in the marketplace context, is likely to be confused by the two marks. For this reason, the trademark infringement test is highly fact-intensive and each factor may be accorded different treatment depending on the case.

Here is a look into the eight-factor test applied by the 6th Circuit.

THE 8-FACTOR TRADEMARK INFRINGEMENT TEST

1. STRENGTH OF THE SENIOR MARK

The senior trademark is the one that was registered first or used first. The more distinctive is the senior mark, the more protected it is. A court will measure distinctiveness along the following spectrum:

A). Generic

  • Definition: Words or symbols that describe the product itself, rather than distinguish between competing versions of the product. A trademark can be rendered generic if consumers begin to use the mark as the generic name of the entire product group (like “aspirin”)
  • Strength: Never distinctive
  • Example: E-mail (no trademark)

B). Descriptive

  • Definition: Words or symbols that merely describe the ingredients, qualities, features, purpose or characteristics of a product.
  • Strength: Distinctive only if the mark has acquired secondary meaning. Secondary meaning indicates that although the mark is on its face descriptive of the product, consumers recognize the mark as having a unique source. Registered marks with incontestable status will be presumed to be at least descriptive with secondary meaning.
  • Example: Windows (trademarked because it has a secondary meaning)

C). Suggestive

  • Definition: Suggestive trademarks suggest qualities of the underlying product, such that it requires imagination, thought, and perception to determine the nature of the product in question.
  • Strength: Inherently distinctive
  • Example: Playstation (trademarked because it suggests that it is a videogame device)

D). Arbitrary

  • Definition: Arbitrary terms are names that exist in popular vocabulary, but have no logical relationship to the products for which they are used. Whether a word is arbitrary or not has everything to do with the context in which it is used. The pairing of the mark with the particular category of product should appear to be random.
  • Strength: Inherently distinctive
  • Example: Apple (trademarked because computers bear no relation to the actual fruit)

E). Fanciful

  • Definition: Terms that are invented for the sole purpose of serving as trademark and have no possible association with the product for which it is used.
  • Strength: Inherently distinctive. Infringers of these marks are hard pressed to provide any explanation for their use the mark, leaving the impression that the real reason was a blatant attempt to trade off the goodwill generated by the owner of the trademark.
  • Example: Xerox (trademarked because the word has no meaning outside of this context)

2. RELATEDNESS OF THE PRODUCTS

Relatedness does not mean that the products are in the same broad industry. Rather, it means that the two products have the potential to be connected in the mind of the consumer. Each case typically fits into one of the following three categories (and the weight given to the factor will change accordingly):

  • If the products compete directly then confusion is likely if the marks are sufficiently similar.
  • If the products are somewhat related but not competitive, then confusion will turn on other factors.
  • If the products are totally unrelated then confusion is unlikely.

3. SIMILARITY OF THE MARKS

This is a factor that the courts usually accord greater weight. The court will look at the pronunciation, appearance, and verbal translation of conflicting marks. It will look to see if the given mark would confuse the public when viewed in isolation. Also, the mark will be viewed in its entirety, not by its individual features.

4. EVIDENCE OF ACTUAL CONFUSION

The existence of actual confusion is direct evidence that the products in their actual market context have similarities sufficient to create confusion. This factor will only be weighted heavily when there is evidence of past confusion or when the particular circumstances indicate such evidence should have been available. Nevertheless, isolated instances of actual confusion after a significant period of time of concurrent sales or extensive advertising do not always indicate an increased likelihood of confusion and may even suggest the opposite.

5. MARKETING CHANNELS USED

A court will assess the similarity of the marks in light of the way they are encountered in the marketplace and the circumstances surrounding their purchase. Evidence may include the relevant market the two products are sold in, the type of business the marks are used for, the methods of advertisement employed by the two parties, and the location that the respective products can be found at stores.

6. LIKELY DEGREE OF PURCHASER CARE

Generally, when analyzing this factor in a trademark infringement test, a court will apply the standard of the typical buyer exercising ordinary caution. However, if a buyer has expertise or is otherwise more sophisticated with respect to the purchase of the product at issue, a higher standard is proper. Similarly, when products are expensive or unusual, the buyer can be expected to exercise greater care in her purchases. The ultimate significance of a given degree of care, however, often will depend upon its relationship with the other seven factors.

7. THE INTENT OF DEFENDANT IN SELECTING THE MARK

If a party chooses a mark with the intent of causing confusion, that fact alone may be sufficient to justify an inference of confusing similarity. Intent is relevant because purposeful copying indicates that the alleged infringer believes that his copying may divert some business from the senior user. Direct evidence of intentional copying is not necessary to prove intent. Rather, the use of a contested mark with knowledge of the protected mark at issue can support a finding of intentional copying.

8. LIKELIHOOD OF EXPANSION OF THE PRODUCT LINES

A strong possibility that either party will expand his business to compete with the other or be marketed to the same consumers will weigh in favor of finding that the present use is infringing. A geographic expansion or an increase in the types of products offered can be relevant.

A finding that the parties will not expand their markets significantly, however, does not address the ultimate issue of likelihood of confusion. Thus, an affirmative finding will provide a strong indication that the parties’ simultaneous use of the marks is likely to lead to confusion, while a negative finding is not a strong indication to the contrary.

Contact a Trademark Infringement Attorney

If you believe a competitor is infringing on your trademark, or you’ve received a cease and desist letter from a competitor, contact the trademark infringement attorneys at Revision Legal with form form on this page, or call us 855-473-8474.

Continued Reading

  1. How Strong is Your Trademark? [Infographic]
  2. Secondary Meaning of Trade Dress
  3. Trademark Priority: Risks of Too Much Secrecy
  4. Grounds for Trademark Opposition and Cancellation Proceedings

Editor’s Note: This blog post was originally published in June, 2017. It has been updated for quality and comprehensiveness.

medical marijuana business

Medical Marijuana Business Formation: What You Need To Know

This is part 1 of 10 of Revision Legal’s guide to setting up a Medical Marijuana business in the State of Michigan.

This article provides an overview of issues you will need to address for medical marijuana business formation.

Michigan’s Medical Marijuana Facilities Licensing Act (MMFLA) sets a licensing framework for the growing, processing, transporting, testing, and selling of marijuana. With this Act, Applicants for licenses can now form corporations and limited liability companies (LLC) to hold these licenses.

Forming an LLC is relatively easy. Forming them correctly and understanding how they work? -that is more difficult.

Limited Liability – Keep It

The main benefit of forming a corporate entity is obtaining limited liability. What this means is the business, rather than its shareholders or members or you, are liable for the corporate debts. With incorporation, you protect personal assets from business liabilities.

However, it is possible to lose this protection. Specifically, a creditor could “pierce the corporate veil”.  As a result your personal assets could be in danger if you do not understand the basics of how limited liability works.

The most important thing to remember is that incorporation should not be abused. For example, if you use your business as a sham or a fraudulent operation, then you can lose your protections. This can happen when business owners mix personal and business funds, fail to keep sufficient records, or become limited by operating funds.

Internal Organization – Do It

Your new Medical Marijuana business needs rules of operation as part of its formation.

Typically, these rules are put together as an operating agreement (for an LLC) or bylaws and a shareholders agreement (for a corporation). These documents set internal policy and procedure for several important issues. Examples of these issues include voting rights, the impact of someone’s death, and the priority of distributions or dividends.

Especially relevant is when your Medical Marijuana business has more than one owner, then these types of organizational documents are highly recommended.

Documentation – Be Diligent

You must take steps to record the important decisions. Do this at the time of your medical marijuana business formation as well as keep accurate paperwork during your day-to-day operations.

These steps can be as simple as setting periodic reminders to review the internal documents of your organization and run audits on how your business is running.

The operation and organization of your business is your responsibility. Nobody else is going to do this for you. But if you follow these steps and are careful in your record keeping and diligent in legal protections then this type of business will be an asset for years. It will also make your business more attractive and trustworthy to customers and investors.

Conclusion – Medical Marijuana Business Formation – Do It Right

Forming a legally defined entity is always an important first step for any business. If you are going to do it, do it right.

Revision Legal offers a complete package to help with your Medical Marijuana business formation. Contact us today with the form on this page to schedule a consultation.

Read Part 2 of 10: Smart Contracting