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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Virginia’s Covidwise Contact-Tracing App Passes the Privacy Test

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

In August, the Virginia Department of Health (“VDH”) launched a smartphone app called “Covidwise” for self-reporting Covid-19 infections and receiving notification of prolonged, recent exposure to someone with Covid-19. Being a lawyer, I wondered whether that app could turn into your legal enemy. Might it set you up to be identified and then sued or Read the full article…

Inside the War Room: Navigating Around Landmines When Replacing a Famous Trademark

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

The Washington Redskins are picking a new name. Rebranding any business is hard. Under trademark law, you can’t pick a name that’s confusingly similar to an existing name used for the same or similar type of business. Because of various obstacles and threats, rebranding is much tougher when replacing a famous name. Let’s take an Read the full article…

False Advertising Law and the Bud Light King: Using Your Competitor’s Words Against It in Ads

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2020

On TV, your words can be used against you. That’s true of cop shows and, now, beer ads. People of a certain age fondly remember the old Dragnet police show. Regular watchers can recite by heart the warning always given by Sergeant Joe Friday to the arrested suspect: “You have the right to remain silent, Read the full article…

What Lessons Can Businesses Learn from Zion Williamson’s Contract Troubles?

Wednesday, May 20th, 2020

In the Bible, “Zion” refers to the city of Jerusalem or the dwelling place of God. Zion Williamson is named appropriately because he’s expected to be the next superstar to light the NBA. Williamson is mortal too, because he’s embroiled in a contract dispute, the kind many businesses unfortunately stumble into. Learn from his mistakes. Read the full article…

When Branding, Think of Building a Trademark Fort

Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Entrepreneurs won’t waste this plague opportunity. Throughout history, great minds have used times of seclusion to create their best work. During the Bubonic Plague of 1665-66, Isaac Newton retreated from Cambridge to a countryside farm. While holed up, he invented calculus and formulated his laws of motion and gravity. The same will be true of Read the full article…

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…