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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Preserve Evidence of First Use of Your Trademark

Friday, August 1st, 2014

With trademarks, older is better. Be prepared to prove your trademark’s age. If you are in business, you probably own one or more trademarks. A product or service name usually is a trademark, and usually a business name is a trademark too. You might get into a dispute with another business over who began using Read the full article…

Be Careful Using People Pictures in Publicity

Thursday, June 19th, 2014

Posted on June 29, 2014 The news is popping with famous people suing over unauthorized use of their likenesses for profit. Former UCLA basketball player Ed O’Bannon is leading a class action lawsuit against the NCAA. He seeks a ruling that college basketball and football players should get a cut of TV revenue. Video game Read the full article…

Explaining the REDSKINS Decision

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

Posted on June 28, 2014. Some key things to know about the recent decision to cancel federal registrations for the trademark REDSKINS, which was made by an administrative court in the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office: • The decision does not force the Redskins to change their name. You don’t need a trademark registration to Read the full article…

Islam, Redskins, Abortion, Trademarks and the First Amendment . . . Oh My!

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Posted on May 21, 2014. It’s been an interesting and controversial month for the relationship between trademark law and the First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and freedom of the press. In mid-May, a federal appellate court upheld a refusal by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (the “USPTO”) to register the trademark STOP Read the full article…

Courts Define Who Can Sue Over False Advertising and What Counts as False Advertising

Monday, April 28th, 2014

Posted on April 24, 2014. A couple of recent court decisions provided guidance on who can sue over false advertising and on whether rants on blogs or consumer review sites constitute false advertising. False advertising is when one business hurts another’s business by making false statements, such as false claims about your own product or Read the full article…

Should You Go to Law School?

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Posted on March 19, 2014 ‘Tis the season for acceptance letters from schools of all levels. Here are some thoughts on possibly going to law school. I base these comments not only on my own observations, but on talks with lawyers in private practice at firms of all sizes, solo attorneys, judges, government attorneys, law Read the full article…

Can You Use Your Customer’s Name and Logo on a Client List?

Wednesday, February 19th, 2014

Posted on February 19, 2014. Is it legal to use the names of your customers and their logos on a client list you show to the public? For example, can you legally have a page on your website on which you display those names and logos, to identify your customers? Technically, the law would ask Read the full article…

You Can Get Unmasked for What You Write on Yelp

Tuesday, January 21st, 2014

Posted on January 27, 2014. Be careful what you write on Yelp. If you write something negative and false, you could get unmasked by a court and successfully sued for defamation. Yelp is an online business-rating site. People use it to gauge customer opinion on all sorts of businesses, such as restaurants. Recently, a Virginia Read the full article…

IP Tips for Potential New Businesses

Wednesday, December 18th, 2013

Posted on December 18, 2013 Many new businesses are founded at the beginning of the year. Below are a few tips for prospective new businesses regarding intellectual property (“IP”) issues. They are not comprehensive or customized for any kind of business. • Educate yourself about IP basics, namely patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets. Read Read the full article…

Are College Sports Players About to Get a Share of TV Revenue?

Wednesday, November 20th, 2013

Posted on November 20, 2013. If I was a TV sports play-by-play guy, I’d hate to cover a Georgia Tech football game. When Georgia Tech is on offense, I’d have a hard time telling you who has the ball. And that’s the same way I feel about the recent win scored against the NCAA by Read the full article…