Month: January 2019

intellectual property infringement

The Legal Implications of Intellectual Property Infringement

Protecting your business is one of the most important things you can do throughout life. This is a multi-faceted endeavor too, as there are so many areas that can become vulnerable, leading to insurance liabilities, security breaches, and more—to include loss or theft of intellectual property. This could be inventions that need to be patented or copyrighted works whether pieces of architecture, software innovation, literature, music, or more. Trademarks such as logos and symbols must be protected, as well as service marks designating what you provide to your specific industry.

And while protecting from infringement is always something to guard against, there may also be true confusion regarding who intellectual property belongs to within the workplace. To avoid any gray area regarding your ownership over the innovations created within your business, employee confidentiality and non-disclosure/non-competition agreements are recommended whenever possible. While they cannot completely ensure you won’t have any problems or that you won’t have trade secrets walking out the door without your knowledge, they are your best preliminary bet for fending off complications and the potential for serious financial loss and harm to your company.

In the case that your intellectual property is being used without your permission and simple communication with the other party asking them to cease such activities is not effective, you do have legal recourse and should consult with a skilled intellectual property attorney as soon as possible. You may have questions about what makes intellectual property yours, and technically, it is yours as soon as it comes into being—as soon as you or an employee or independent contractor make it. In some cases, this could be enough to fight against infringement, but depending on the value of the items at hand you may not ever want to take that risk.

The other party may have considerable or unforeseen resources to fight you, even if they have taken what was your original creation. That could make suing more challenging if you have not applied for registration or licensing. Again, this is a job for your attorney, who can advise you on what type of applications and licenses to pursue, whether from the U.S. Trademark and Patent Office, the U.S. Copyright Office, or other entities for items like domain names and more.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Errors and Omissions

What is an Errors and Omissions Insurance Claim?

Purchasing insurance can be a stressful experience in some cases, and having to file an errors and omissions insurance claim is most likely something you will never expect to have to do. Chances are, your life is busy (like so many consumers today), with little time to research what your needs really are for protecting your home, your business, your car—and even your health. We rely on insurance agents to know the facts and present them to us in a more consolidated form, informing us about our options as well as laws, exclusions, other needs we should consider, and of course—the financial end regarding cost, payment schedules, and more. Your insurance agent may also want to examine any existing policies to see where they are lacking and then make improvements, along with continuing to maintain them over the long run; in fact, some policyholders may work with the same agent for years.

Insurance agents are often recommended by word of mouth, through friends or other business peers, known for their industry expertise, and above all—excellent customer service. They should be skilled at helping you target exactly what you need regarding a variety of different lines of insurance, as well as assisting you in the claims process should that be necessary. But what happens when you must file a claim against them? This is where errors and omissions insurance kicks in for the agent as you file an E&O claim with the help of an attorney from a law office like the Bolender Law Firm.

Negligence may have occurred on the part of your insurance agent due to a wide range of reasons such as failing to explore your needs appropriately and leaving you or your business vulnerable, failing to procure coverage as promised or not letting you know about an impending cancellation, required change to your policy, or other issue that causes negative consequences.

In some cases, the insurance agent may also have failed to send in information regarding a claim to the carrier at all, which could cause massive issues all around—and leave you emptyhanded after a disaster to your home or business that required immediate resolution from the insurer you trusted and paid diligently (even when some premiums may be exorbitant!). You could be owed significant damages to be paid out through the agent’s E&O insurance, depending on what happened—and the scope of their negligence in providing the proper care to you as a policyholder.

If you suspect negligence on the part of your insurance agent or insurance company, contact the Bolender Law Firm. We will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Which Form of Intellectual Property Protection Applies to Your Work?

Businesses of all sizes are innovating more than ever, as so many industries in the US continue to grow, with designers, engineers, and many different types of hardworking individuals finding new ways to improve processes or create new ones altogether, often requiring intellectual property protection. But if you are the owner of a company, whether it is new or has been in business for decades, you may just be learning about how to protect your work. This can be complex, and some find it intimidating to deal with from the outset which is why it is easier—and best—to work with an intellectual property attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm.

Interestingly, intellectual property does belong to you as soon as you create it—without your having to do anything else at all. And while registering your work with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office or the U.S. Copyright Office, no matter which type it is, does give you more legal recourse should there be reason to sue or have to defend yourself, it is important to have confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements in place for employees just so that it is completely understood that your business retains ownership of the projects created within the company—and that trade secrets are not to be shared with any outside interests.

Your attorney will be able to advise you regarding which type (or types) of protection you need, but following are the basics in intellectual property:

  • Copyrights – this protects what are generally known as artistic works of expression, which could span everything from literature to pieces of architecture or even software. Such protection usually spans the lifetime of the creator and 70 years after that.
  • Trademarks – these are vital to businesses usually in the form of logos or symbols, and allow your customers to recognize you, often from far away (think of those ubiquitous golden arches!). Protecting your trademark means that other companies cannot infringe on branding that denotes the products you sell or service marks, denoting what services you offer to the public.
  • Patents relate to inventions and are usually good for around 20 years, meaning you have sole rights to distribution and manufacturing.

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

trade secret

Business Topics: What Defines a Trade Secret

Tens of millions of business owners in the US are currently hard at work performing all the duties that may sometimes seem like a daily grind when it comes to necessities like ordering, scheduling, paying bills, and more, but there are also the more fulfilling facets such as creating dazzling marketing campaigns to bring in the customers, adding new employees to strengthen a growing team, making plans and goals and putting them into action, and most importantly, continuing to innovate and entice consumers. This may require registering copyrights—even to include a volume of work—trademarks and service marks, and inventions that must be patented.

Bringing forth new creations into your industry may encompass enormous financial resources, endless hours, and collaborations with a variety of team members, to include independent contractors who may be brought in at different times depending on projects. Some of what you produce may end up becoming trade secrets that are vital to your business for as long as it is running, and there is plenty to know about what defines them—and how to protect them.

According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, a trade secret (also serving to ‘complement’ the patent) is used for business purposes and may comprise the following:

  • Formulas
  • Patterns
  • Compilations
  • Programs
  • Devices
  • Methods
  • Techniques
  • Processes

The USPTO states that courts can not only help businesses protect their trade secrets by ‘ordering parties that have misappropriated a trade secret to take steps to maintain its secrecy, as well as ordering payment of a royalty to the owner,’ but they can also force parties responsible for misappropriation to pay substantial fines and costs related to damages and legal fees. It is also up to the holder of the trade secret to make sure they do indeed maintain its secrecy; if they do not, it is then considered ‘released.’ The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Intellectual property topics

Intellectual Property Topics in Business: Protecting a Collection of Works

Owning a business is certainly not for the weak of heart—and this becomes apparent from the beginning. Moving past the dreaming about it and creating a concept phase, once you get into solidifying a business model, finding a site or building one out, procuring proper licensing, and founding a company, both the excitement—and stress—levels begin building. And for many this never ends, whether in a positive or negative manner. Running your own company is a multi-faceted endeavor that requires immense time, effort, and dedication; in fact, you may find that you begin spending more time there than at home, with your team beginning to feel like family as well.

Bringing in customers is central to your business, along with so many other elements that are important to helping your company thrive. They must know how to recognize your business, via a domain name, logos and trademarks familiarizing them with what products you offer, as well as service marks that designate what services you provide. From purchasing all the proper insurance coverage to putting a security system in place, protection is key to your business. And although you may not put much thought into it at first, this may be more important for your intellectual property than anything else! This is especially relevant if you are in the business of creating works that others may want to steal for their own advancement.

You may have a collection of pieces that require copyright protection too, preventing against infringement or unauthorized use by other parties. This could be architecture, software, or music, literature, or more. And the key here is that in protecting an entire body of work together—rather than piecemeal—you can cut out the repetition of multiple application processes and registrations, waiting periods (which are usually up to seven months or more), and the potential expense of registering multiple items.

Consult with a skilled attorney from the Bolender Law Firm to review your intellectual property needs, along with gaining more understanding about copyright protection and how important it is, from registering with the U.S. Copyright Office to handling employee and independent contractor agreements regarding non-disclosure. The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Rescission or Reformation: What is Best for Your Business Contract Now

Although you may have heard the saying more than once that ‘contracts are just made to be broken,’ in most cases that is not easy to do, and such action may result in unpleasant repercussions such as lawsuits and resulting monetary damages. As the owner of a business, you have probably signed your share of contracts, but it when it comes to creating them, it is vital to enlist the help of a skilled business attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm.

A legal professional will guide you in the basics of what you need in a contract. If you are hiring new employees, it is vital to have an airtight contract that not only outlines the details of their position, pay, hours, and benefits, but also includes any necessary confidentiality, non-disclosure, and non-compete clauses. If you are creating a contract for one or more partners that you will be sharing your business with, the basic points should cover who does what, business titles, who gets what in terms of shares and profits (and when), and how to handle any potential dissolution of the partnership and their shares in the business. Many other contracts may be needed too over the years, from agreements with vendors to real estate contracts or those regarding other property and inventory.

And while many of your contracts may be solid from beginning to end, and working relationships may span decades, agreements may need changes—some of which are required by the court. Contract reformation means that some parts of your contract may need to be changed due to confusion over the way it was initially worded. There may have been actual errors in the contract, or it may become obvious that one or more parties misunderstood and were uncomfortable with upholding their end of the current agreement.

If the contract is problematic overall, contract rescission may be necessary, terminating the contract completely—although there is always the possibility of creating a completely new one later. This may happen in the case of a contract that was not drawn up properly or was contributed to or signed by parties under duress. Once rescission occurs, all parties are freed from the terms of the contract.

Do you need legal assistance with drawing up a business contract or handling a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

insurance agents

Why Insurance Agents Make Mistakes

Insurance agents usually possess myriad and impressive abilities which convince us to go with their companies in the beginning. Shopping around for the best policies, rates, and customer service skills can be a formidable task—not to mention exhausting. The key is to work with an agent who is licensed in all the areas of insurance that you are considering purchasing, and who possesses a great deal of wisdom and knowledge about the industry that you most likely do not. They and their office should also demonstrate excellent organizational skills and put their customers first.

You may have also chosen an insurance agent through word of mouth via friends, or perhaps you are friends with them yourself from years past or just in getting to know each other via the business transaction of purchasing coverage. Depending on the scope of a resulting claim, if something goes wrong, you may be extremely frustrated. The problem in many cases though—no matter the severity of the claim—is that sometimes policies may be so complex that even an agent does not have a clear understanding of every detail, or they may not be apprised of many of the constant changes occurring in the industry.

Making a mistake as an insurance agent can lead to very serious repercussions for everyone involved, which is why errors and omissions insurance exists; however, you may have to go through some headaches to see a claim paid even if the oversight was on the part of the agent. Other reasons for a major error could be:

  • Simple lack of knowledge
  • Carelessness when writing a policy
  • Lack of attention to your needs as a policyholder
  • Failure to procure correct coverage for you
  • Failure to report the claim

Measures you can take on your end to avoid insurance issues or claims denials are to make sure you are working with an agent or company that has a good reputation, understand what type of coverage you require personally or for your business, and don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions! Negligence on the part of your insurance agent could mean that you are owed significant damages, and this is not a legal issue you should attempt to handle on your own.

Speak with an attorney from the Bolender Law Firm to review your options. We will advocate on behalf of clients through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!


Mediation v. Arbitration: Resolving Your Business Dispute

Unless you are a feisty litigator, going to court is probably not one of your passions; in fact, finding out that you are about to be involved in a lawsuit may can be very unpleasant. After all, we would all much rather be working, running our businesses, and enjoying what little free time we have during the interim. Unfortunately, while even our normal personal lives can lead to disputes and legal battles during some years, that is even more likely for a business owner. Depending on the size of your company, you could find yourself putting out fires daily, but when they escalate into a major issue that could be headed straight for the courtroom, you may want to speak with your attorney about alternative dispute resolution options like arbitration or mediation.

There are benefits to litigation, mediation, and arbitration. The courtroom experience, however, is much more well-known for being adversarial, expensive, super stressful, and in many cases—long and excruciatingly drawn out. Arbitration can be thought of as a step below the court process, with cases both heard and decided by the arbitrator. Testimonies on both sides are allowed, and evidence is also entered as part of the process, if necessary. While not as rigid as the courtroom or as expensive, arbitration is still much more formal than mediation—and may be heard by an individual well-versed in the law such as a retired judge or lawyer, or a professional with experience relevant to the case. The decision is both final and binding and can be extremely difficult to appeal.

Mediation is known to be successful in most cases and can be helpful for business owners trying to settle a dispute without ruining the potential for a long-term relationship, whether that be with an employee or independent contractor, another business owner or industry peer, or a vendor. Sometimes there may be the reluctance to lose a long-term and personal working relationship that is being soured by a dispute, but other times it could be that profit is the priority. In wrecking relations with a much-needed vendor, a business could be challenged to have products delivered. The neutral mediation works in a casual atmosphere and usually offers flexible scheduling for everyone involved. Affordability is a key benefit in mediation, along with the fact that the parties in dispute are usually motivated to solve their differences—and this is expected of them, with the mediator only there to guide.

The Bolender Law Firm will advocate on behalf of clients through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!



What Does a Copyright Protect?

While it may seem ridiculous to have to register your own ideas to own them, it isn’t really that complicated in the beginning; you are the owner of any expressions of artistic work as soon as you create them! Even without getting outside help or registering with a government entity such as the U.S. Copyright Office, a work of literature or music is instantaneously copyrighted to you. And while there may not be any paperwork to prove this, most likely you are in possession of the item and for anyone else to try and copyright it is either a highly coincidental occurrence or they have stolen the work from you.

Some individuals will take the extra step to create what is often referred to as a poor man’s copyright, mailing themselves a copy of a work or having it established with a notary and a signature and a date bearing evidence of the origins and date. Even that is not necessary though. As soon as you have written that screenplay, as soon as it is on paper with your name attached to it, the copyright is yours. It must, however, be a physical item—an idea or concept is not enough for a copyright and cannot be protected as such.

Intellectual property can be extremely valuable in some cases and should be protected. With the common law copyright, you are given some assurances that no one else can steal your work, but you could be on very shaky ground if you were forced to take legal action against another party for infringement. If you register your work, you then have exclusive rights to copy or distribute your work as you wish, make a sequel or follow-up work to the original, or display the work in the public or take it one step further by making a book or other expression into something like a play.

With proper registration, anyone infringing upon you could face penalties; in some cases, however, you may wish to license a copyright, trademark, service mark or other intellectual property to someone else, give permission for them to use your work, or you may even want to sell your copyrighted work. Other examples of works protected by copyright include:

  • Software programs
  • Architectural plans
  • Buildings
  • Choreography
  • Sculpture
  • Sound recordings

The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

bad faith claims

Bad Faith Claim: Delays and Denials

Insurance is meant to be your saving grace in the case of a disaster, and most of us would never expect to be on the end of a bad faith claim. This could be an event that is damaging or even catastrophic to your health, your home, your car, your business, or your professional reputation. Protection against such risk is supposed to offer you peace of mind, but there are often numerous complexities behind the purchasing of insurance to include choosing the best agent or agency to deal with, understanding what your needs are, and finding a policy that suits your budget. Afterward, you are ‘protected,’ but still may be struggling to pay exorbitant premiums. This is a problem for many citizens in the US today, and while there is a lot of attention paid to the high sums charged for health care insurance premiums, many other types of policies are difficult for policyholders to afford too, whether you are trying to insurance your residence or a commercial building or a vehicle for yourself or one of your children.

Considering the amount of time and effort you put in to finding the best insurance—and then paying for it—finding out that the insurance company is not holding up their end of the bargain can be extremely disappointing. Along with that, you may be under incredible stress if your home or business has been damaged and you are unable to move forward with daily life as you know it until the claim has been paid. It is important to understand the difference between valid claims issues, however, and those that are caused by bad faith on the part of the insurer. There are many different types of claims denials that are valid, such as lack of payment of premium, a breach of the policy, or lack of coverage.

There are numerous red flags to look for if your insurer is acting in bad faith, to include:

  • Delays that may be ongoing with little or no explanation
  • Outright denial of the claim
  • Requests for enormous amount of information/documentation that may be hard to get
  • Changes to your policy you were unaware of
  • Lack of investigation/lack of communication

If you suspect your insurance company may be denying your claim in bad faith, contact the attorneys at the Bolender Law Firm. If a dispute over a claim cannot be easily resolved through a call or written communication, our attorneys will advocate on behalf of policyholders through litigation, arbitration, or non-binding mediation. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!