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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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…

Will the Redskins be Able to Keep Their Name?

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2013

Posted on October 23, 2013. The name of the Washington Redskins was born out of trademark concerns in 1933. Eighty years later, the team is still wresting with trademark problems. The Washington Redskins were the Boston Braves in their inaugural year, 1932. They played in Fenway Park in Boston, which also was home to two Read the full article…

The Biggest Developments in Trademark Law Over the Past Year

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Posted on September 16, 2013. Each year, I teach a seminar to other lawyers covering the most important developments in trademark law that occurred during the past year. I thought you might be interested in the key takeaways from this year’s presentation. Generally speaking, a trademark is a distinctive name for a business, product or Read the full article…

I Am the Trademark Police. Here are Some Common Naming Mistakes I See.

Monday, September 16th, 2013

Posted August 8, 2013. I am the trademark police. I’m here to tell you about some common misunderstandings and mistakes I encounter when dealing with trademark-infringement targets. First, some background: Usually, the name of a business is a trademark, and the names of product and services usually are too. When I contact a target, its Read the full article…

Lists of Newly Issued Patents: What Do They Signify?

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013

Posted July 24, 2013. You’ve probably noticed lists of recently issued patents in some business publications. This newspaper runs one regularly. Here’s what these lists do and don’t signify: 1. Most patents are owned by companies who hire employees to invent, not by independent, individual inventors. Names of individual inventors are usually listed, but the Read the full article…

Patent Trolls Aren’t the Primary Patents Problem

Wednesday, June 19th, 2013

Recently, President Obama called for cracking down on “patent trolls.” Who are these people? Is there a real problem here? He was referring to some companies that sue for infringement of patents they own when they don’t make anything using their patented technology. “Patent troll” is a pejorative term. It implies the plaintiff − the Read the full article…