John B.


Lawrence E. Laubscher, Jr.


Ian D. Titley

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John Farmer's Column  

John wears two hats – columnist and lawyer. He writes a monthly column, Leading-Edge Law, for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on breaking legal issues in the e-commerce, intellectual property and high-tech fields. He’s been writing columns since 1998.
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Two Key Contract Provisions to Watch in a Pandemic

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, businesses worry about whether they can meet their contractual obligations to other businesses. Some worry about spending money for services or things they no longer need, or they just want to cut costs. Some vendors worry about whether they can meet contractual obligations when their workforce is down. While there Read the full article…

The Heavyweight Trademark Battle between Truist and Truliant Rages On

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020

Query: Would you be confused by the two marks above? What if you heard the names on the radio? Posted February 18, 2020. The trademark-infringement fight between Truist Financial Corporation and Truliant Federal Credit Union is going to the mat. Truist is the result of the merger of SunTrust and BB&T. When those merging banks Read the full article…

A New California Law Attempts to Regulate Consumer Privacy Nationwide. Better Get Ready.

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020

A new California law, the Consumer Privacy Protection Act (“CCPA”), goes beyond requiring businesses to have privacy policies. It forces them to carefully structure how they gather and use consumers’ information. It’s not limited to information gathered by a website. The law addresses all personal information gathered from consumers, even offline. It’s no longer good Read the full article…

Trademark Lessons from the Fiasco of Picking TRUIST as a Bank Name

Tuesday, December 17th, 2019

When SunTrust and BB&T chose to merge, they chose TRUIST as the name of the combined bank. They just closed the merger. So far, the naming choice has been a legal mess. I wonder if they will abandon the new name. It’s a textbook example of what happens when business executives fall in love with Read the full article…

Benefits of Mark Registration

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

There are many potential benefits to federally registering a mark. Below is a nonexclusive list. As you might imagine, there are “in the weeds” details about each benefit, which details are omitted for brevity’s sake. A Couple of Caveats: You should have trademark counsel perform mark-clearance research before adopting a mark. If your mark conflicts Read the full article…

Tips from the Virginia State Police about Counterfeits

Wednesday, November 20th, 2019

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with a special agent of the Virginia State Police about the sale of counterfeit products in Virginia. While the police can’t give legal advice, I picked up a few tips. Just about any goods that can be counterfeited show up in Virginia, such as cigarettes, prescription drugs (including Read the full article…

When it Comes to Online Privacy, Your Virginia Business May be Governed by California and Europe

Friday, October 11th, 2019

Your business may be in Virginia, but when it comes to online privacy laws, it may be governed by California and the European Union. For the uninitiated, a website often will have a privacy policy linked on its website, usually at the bottom. A privacy policy is supposed to educate web surfers as to what Read the full article…

Lebron James and TACO TUESDAY – Trademark Lessons from a Celebrity

Wednesday, September 18th, 2019

Perhaps you’ve noticed Lebron James has gone viral on Instagram hyping “Taco Tuesday.” He often does it imitating a Spanish or Mexican accent. On some college campuses, doing that would get you in trouble for “cultural appropriation.” But he’s the King, so he can. Anyway, in mid-August, a holding company owned by James, LBJ Trademarks, Read the full article…

Do’s and Don’ts for Businesses Using Photos Found Online

Wednesday, July 17th, 2019

About a year ago, an Alexandria federal trial court issued a decision that panicked commercial photographers. The decision could be interpreted as holding that it’s OK for a business to use someone else’s photograph in advertising without permission. To the relief of copyright owners, the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals recently reversed it. The Read the full article…

BB&T and SunTrust become Truist and get sued by Truliant Federal Credit Union – What Trademark-Selection Lessons Can Be Learned?

Tuesday, June 18th, 2019

A trademark fight just broke out involving the merger of BB&T and SunTrust, two banks with heavy footprints in Central Virginia. Those combining banks recently announced their merged name (meaning their trademark) will be “Truist.” Shortly afterward, Truliant Federal Credit Union sued BB&T and SunTrust for trademark infringement. Truliant contends “Truist” is confusingly similar to Read the full article…