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Strong, unique trademarks are better protected from infringement

There are few things that can be as fun, exciting and creative for company executives as creating a business trademark, whether starting a new business or modernizing the look of an established company. Trademarks are arguably the most identifying feature of a business. A strong and unique trademark can help consumers identify a company at a glance, whether it’s a locally-known Texas supermarket chain or a nationally-recognized auto brand. 

However, just as with many other business aspects, trademarks can be copied or infringed upon. This is one reason why it’s important to establish a distinctive trademark that’s easily distinguished from others. To create a strong trademark (and to prevent accidentally infringing upon others), the International Trademark Association’s website provides several suggestions: 

  • Invent or coin a term for the trademark that has no meaning to other businesses or individuals.
  • Use a dictionary definition or phrase that is unrelated to the company’s services or products but creates interest.
  • Design a stylized symbol, pattern or letter that’s unlike others in the business world and can become easily recognizable or even iconic.
  • Search business directories and online for trademarks in the preferred region of business before settling on a design.
  • Be aware of local phrases and customs so that a trademark does not accidentally offend or confuse foreign customers. 

What is tortuous interference?

The definition of a tort, first and foremost, is a civil wrong that has caused unnecessary loss, grief or harm to another party. This creates a legal liability for the tortfeasor, or the person who has committed the tort. This definition applies to common law jurisdictions and can usually result in a lawsuit against the tortfeasor by the person who has suffered damages.

Torts have a common law in which there are different divisions of tort policy. This allows different situations to be handled separately and in accordance with their various needs. Tortious interference is also called intentional interference with contractual relationships, which is essentially the definition of this type of tort. It applies to both contractual relationships that may or may not be business related, and specifically business-related relationships that may not necessarily involve a contract.

Wage theft is increasing across the country

Several weeks ago, we discussed the passing of a wage theft ordinance in Houston that has inspired other Texas communities in dealing with a problem that has been increasing not only in Texas, but across the entire country. According to the National Employment Law Project, instances in which workers are being denied wages or benefits due by their employers are not as rare as people may think. Wage theft can include the following:

  • Paying an employee less than minimum wage

Owner of travel deals website sued for unfair competition

When starting a business that’s completely legitimate, business owners may not expect a lawsuit, but sometimes that’s exactly what happens. Business litigation can occur any time professionals in another company feel that their rights or interests are being threatened. This appears to be the case for a young New York City entrepreneur, whose online company helped people across the country, including in Texas, find the best deals on airplane tickets.

According to a lawsuit filed by United Airlines and Orbitz, the 22-year-old owner of Skiplagged.com is being accused of unfair competition. The website takes advantage of a strategy called “hidden city” ticketing that many frequent fliers have utilized for years. With hidden city ticketing, travelers take a flight with a layover at their actual destination and get off at the layover point. For example, a traveler who wants to disembark in Houston can buy a one-way ticket to Phoenix with a layover in Houston if it is cheaper than other flights.

Commercial real estate litigation can take many forms

When it comes to real estate, businesses often face more complex matters than contract signings and lease agreements. At The Jackson Law Firm, we understand the range of real estate issues that Texas business owners might have to deal with, and we know how to handle them.

Most of the time, the most complicated real estate problem that a company will have to face involves understanding the terms of a contract. This often includes property boundary definitions, the type of business that is to be conducted on the property, and lease payment and insurance terms. However, even routine contracts can be complex, and it may be in a company's best interests to seek outside counsel before signing.

Are disabled people protected from discrimination on the job?

If you have a physical or mental disability, it is only fair to be treated the same as anyone else without being harassed or discriminated against for your condition. This courtesy should extend to your place of employment. In fact, disabled employees in every state, including Texas, are protected against employment discrimination and harassment by the Americans with Disabilities Act, states the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Federal workers and applicants receive similar protections under the Rehabilitation Act.

What defines a disability? The EEOC describes a disability as a physical or mental condition that substantially affects a person’s activities or quality of life. This can include lifelong impairments, such as cerebral palsy, or a long-term illness, such as cancer or HIV. Mental conditions such as dyslexia and depression can also be considered disabilities.

Clear contracts and notarization can prevent contract disputes

For small and large Texas business owners alike, there can hardly be a bigger headache than a contract dispute. Upon signing a contract, it is assumed that both parties agree upon the terms and will make every reasonable effort to uphold them. However, as it sometimes happens, one of the parties down the line may end up breaking one or more terms of the contract, whether from a misunderstanding or a willful act of noncompliance.

Breach of contract disputes can occur between businesses and employees, partners, subcontractors or other companies with whom they do business. Simply put, whenever a contract is signed, there is the potential for a contract dispute. According to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, it is in all parties’ best interests to fully understand and agree upon the terms of the contract before signing, to avoid contract disputes down the line. It is possible to revise or agree upon other terms of the contract at a later time; however, business owners can reduce the risk of a disagreement by making sure everything covered in the contract is outlined in clear and easily understandable language.

Founder of El Paso company files lawsuit against board

When starting a business in Texas, it may not occur to company owners that they may one day be forced out of their position, especially if the company is doing well.

More than 45 years ago, Jerry Rubin founded hair-care products company Helen of Troy as a boutique wig shop in El Paso. Today, the company has thousands of employees, conducts multinational business and earns over $1.3 billion a year. After being asked to step down as chief executive, Mr. Rubin filed a business litigation case against the board of directors, claiming it fraudulently forced him out of his company.

When disputes arise between businesses and shareholders

Like many companies in Texas, your business may utilize shareholders to forward the company's financial interests and keep it running smoothly. However, relations between those in charge of a company and the shareholders may not always be positive. At The Jackson Law Firm, we are experienced in helping businesses navigate the complications that can occur when a shareholder dispute arises.

Ideally, shareholders represent a company's best interests by electing an effective board of directors, who in turn are responsible for company management. According to the Harvard Business Review, shareholders are important company investors, and therefore have an interest in the company's ability to succeed. As such, they often have the power to change company management by a vote if they feel the current board of directors is ineffective. The opinions of shareholders and company management can often clash, leading to business disputes.

Common reasons employees sue their bosses

It’s a nightmare for a business owner when the company gets sued by an employee, particularly if the company is a smaller business. Unfortunately, many more people in Texas as well as other states may resort to litigation than in years past. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, wrongful termination cases increase every year.

In fact, wrongful termination is one of the top causes for an employee to file a lawsuit, says Forbes. There are no grounds for these lawsuits in most situations, but it doesn’t stop a former employee from trying. A business can protect itself from the possibility of a lawsuit by ensuring it does not violate equal rights and safety laws regarding wages and hours, discrimination, dangerous work conditions, harassment and workers’ compensation.

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