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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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…

Liability for False Advertising: Kings, Corn Syrup, Beer, and Half-Truths

Tuesday, May 21st, 2019

I love the scene in the movie The Pink Panther Strikes Again where Inspector Clouseau is checking into a small inn. At the front desk, Clouseau notices a dog lying on the floor. He asks the innkeeper, “Does your dog bite?” “No,” responds the innkeeper. Clouseau bends down to pat the dog on the head Read the full article…

What are the Implications for Businesses of the Supreme Court’s Recent Ruling on Copyright Registration?

Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

The Supreme Court recently held you can’t sue someone for copyright infringement until you register your copyright with the federal Copyright Office. How does this ruling impact businesses? To understand the implications, we must first review basics: A copyright covers an original expression fixed in a tangible medium. Copyrights typically owned by businesses include website Read the full article…

Must Your Business’s Website Be ADA Compliant?

Tuesday, March 19th, 2019

Businesses are getting hit by lawsuits from plaintiffs’ attorneys claiming their websites don’t comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act (the “ADA”). While the ADA was enacted before the commercial Internet existed, courts interpret the ADA as requiring businesses that are “public accommodations” to have websites usable by the disabled. The ADA doesn’t give an Read the full article…

Amazon Sellers: Understand What the Amazon Brand Registry Can and Won’t Do for You

Wednesday, February 20th, 2019

Amazon is pushing its Amazon Brand Registry as a way for brand owners to enhance their position and attack counterfeit merchandise on Amazon. Let’s look at what it does and does not do. Some background first: A “brand” is advertising lingo for a trademark. It’s a business, product, or service name, such as GOPRO or Read the full article…