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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Trademark Lessons Learned in Local Adult Beverage Battle

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

“Start with deeper pockets and get started sooner on trademarks.” Those are the words of Jerome Snyder, owner of Vahseer Meadworks, describing his recent trademark fight with Dogfish Head Brewery. Vahseer, located in AltaVista (just south of Lynchburg), makes mead, which is an alcoholic drink created by fermenting honey with water and other ingredients. Snyder Read the full article…

Recent Court Decision Creates Trademark Opportunity and Threat to Small Business

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

It is often challenging and expensive for a small business to federally register a trademark, which is a product, service, or business name. That’s because it’s frequently hard to prove that the trademark is used in interstate commerce, which is required for federal registration. A recent court decision effectively wiped out the interstate commerce requirement. Read the full article…

Do Your Financial Homework Before Going to Law School

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

You don’t have to read The Paper Chase to know that the academic demands of law school are immense. But, in light of today’s poor legal job market, the most important studying should be over whether to go to law school. It has never been easier to get into law school, and it never has Read the full article…

Is Everyone “All In” on Committing Their IP to Your Business?

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin quipped, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” The same “all in” approach is crucial to giving a new business venture a chance to succeed – either a startup or an existing company launching a new product or Read the full article…

Banning Negative Reviews in Consumer Contracts Might Generate Backlash and Bad Legal Results

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Do you know what the Streisand Effect is? Prestigious Pets, a pet-care company in Dallas, Texas, learned the hard way. In 2002, Streisand complained that an online album showing aerial pictures of the California coastline included a photo of her Malibu mansion. She felt the photo invaded her privacy, so her attorney sent a letter Read the full article…

Obama vs. Trump, Plagiarism vs. Copyright, and Your Next Business Presentation

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Remember the controversy over whether Melania Trump plagiarized a speech by Michelle Obama when Trump gave her speech at the Republican National Convention? What can you learn from that incident that will keep you from getting in legal trouble in your next business presentation? The news chatter concerned whether the similarity constituted plagiarism, which is Read the full article…

Legal Issues to Watch for When Using Pokemon Go to Promote Your Business

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Would your business like to use the Pokemon Go craze to attract customers? What legal issues do you need to watch out for when doing so? Is it OK to make posts on Facebook and Instagram and to send tweets about Pokemon Go creatures found at your business? Some businesses go further. The Center of Read the full article…

What Do You Do When Your Lawyer Leaves the Firm or Your Law Firm Breaks Up?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

“Do you know how copper wire was invented? Two lawyers were fighting over a penny.” − Unattributed joke seen online. I don’t understand why lawyers get prominent placement in newspaper announcements of new hires and employment moves. We’re not a big deal. Maybe it’s because we can be such drama queens in our relationships with Read the full article…

Don’t Let a Careless Whisper Sink Your Business: Seven Things About the New Federal Trade Secrets Law

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Do you feel so unsure about the new federal trade secrets law? I wonder what 80’s pop star George Michael would say about it. Can you spot the prescient commentary in his song lyrics? 1. New Federal Intellectual Property Right. President Obama just signed into law federal protection for trade secrets. Previously, with small exceptions, Read the full article…

It’s Time to Think About Protecting Your Trademarks in Spanish

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Even if President Trump gets that wall built, you need to think about protecting your trademarks from infringement in Spanish. Let’s say you own a long-standing real estate business called RIVERSIDE REALTY. You may be able to use trademark law to stop someone else from using the same name for the same type of business. Read the full article…