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b2ap3_thumbnail_attorney.jpgCyber law cases are unique, from the proceedings to the violations. Due to the nuanced nature of many cyber law cases, even the most minor violations can represent the difference between a case being lost or won. This is especially true as it pertains to electronic discovery. Electronic discovery simply refers to discoveries made in a legal proceeding (such as a government investigation or simple litigation), in which the information is in digital form. Because of the intangible nature of electronic discovery, it is treated much differently than paper evidence. The most common forms of electronic discovery include emails, various file types, and other types of electronic documents. Below we will discuss the way in which a skilled attorney can assist you during the electronic discovery process.

How a Cyber Law Expert Can Help

In cases involving electronic discovery, the presence of a quality legal professional can make or break your case. First and foremost, a skilled attorney will go through an extensive research process, examining documents, emails, and any form of electronic discovery that could benefit or harm your case. A knowledgeable attorney will also be cognizant of the role that megadata can play in the electronic discovery process. For instance, the dates and times at which a document was filed can be critically important in a trademark, copyright, or domain name case.

A competent attorney will also ensure that all relevant electronic discovery has been properly collected and preserved. Proving that an opposing side has destroyed relevant information can be a direct violation of the preservation process in all electronic discovery processes. A party could also be in violation if they do not transfer the information to their legal counsel as the information was found. Failure to recognize and identify these violations could result in a lost case.

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US cyber law attorneyA master services agreement is necessary when two or more organizations enter into an on-going business relationship. A master services agreement can generally define the conditions of the working relationship, and save all parties involved time down the line. While a master services agreement is designed to save you time, and avoid the need for further negotiations, failure to properly craft an agreement could be detrimental to the success of your company. If you are looking to draft or negotiate a master services agreement, seek out competent legal assistance.

The Importance of a Master Services Agreement

In the world of online business, a master services agreement will essentially outline the parameters of a collaborative business relationship. A properly crafted master services agreement will address key components of any business relationship, ranging from terms of payment to confidentiality agreements. Additional components likely to be discussed in the agreement include product warranties, work standards, and delivery requirements. Recognizing the importance of these issues (for instance violation of a confidentiality agreement can be detrimental to an up and coming business’s success), violation of a master services agreement can lead to a long legal battle.

If a legal battle ultimately arises, the dispute resolution method should already be established within the master services agreement. If you are an inexperienced company dealing with a more seasoned party, it is not uncommon to be taken advantage of in negotiations over a master services agreement. If an attorney is not utilized in drafting the agreement, it may be difficult to win any meaningful legal battles down the road. For digital product companies dealing with other parties, the importance of an attorney’s assistant during these negotiations cannot be understated.

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IL trademark lawyerAs a company ventures into the global marketplace, nothing is more valuable to them than establishing a recognizable and attractive company identity. With many of today’s biggest corporations, the brand itself is essentially more popular than any of the company’s products. In other words, brand is everything. A trademark is defined as a branding tool that essentially sets your product or business apart from the rest of the competition. In today’s online economy every corporation should understand the way in which company security has changed. Trademark infringement can lead to a costly domain dispute and ultimately cost you your company.

Mistakes to Avoid in Registering Your Trademark

A trademark is the backbone of a company’s identity. From an engaging image to a catchy phrase, your trademark’s viability can make or break your company. Once you have established a trademark that you believe will draw prospective clients in, it is critically important to establish protections for your trademark. Thus the first step to take is registering your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Unfortunately, many costly mistakes can be made during the USPTO’s registration process. First of all, one must decide what kind of trademark they are registering for. For instance, a small local company may apply for a “™” symbol trademark, but a larger company should not. The reason behind this is that a “™” trademark protection only holds water within a specific geographical boundary of your company’s operation. Another common mistake made in trademark registration is failing to research whether there are other trademarks identical or similar to your idea. Failure to research other trademarks could cost you your trademark, valuable time, and at worst a costly lawsuit.

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In a competitive market place, every edge a company can maintain over its competitor is incredibly valuable. In the online world, the development of specific algorithms, patterns, and formulas can make a company financially successful for the foreseeable future. Once these have been developed, it can be critical to keep this information confidential. When a company has knowledge that they want to keep out of the hands of the general public or their competitors, this is known as a trade secret. In order to ensure that your trade secret remains within your organization, it is important to consult a qualified trade secret law attorney.

What Constitutes a Trade Secret

Throughout the vast majority of states in the US, the legality surrounding trade secrets are defined in the Federal Uniform Trade Secrets Act (UTSA). In order for a trade secret to be deemed valid, there are a number of criteria the information must meet. First and foremost, the information must be secret, and not generally known by competitors. Secondly, the information must have commercial value to the company, and that value is contingent on the information remaining confidential. Lastly, the company with the information must have previously taken steps to secure the confidentiality of the information, this could come in the form of various confidentiality agreements.

Protecting Your Trade Secret

The clearest cut way to protect your trade secrets is through the development of non-disclosure agreements. A non-disclosure agreement is a legal contract between a minimum of two parties that describes confidential information or knowledge, that the parties will share with each other, but will restrict from outside parties. If a party violates your non-disclosure agreement, you will be able to UTSA action.

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IL cyber law attorneyIn the digital age that we live in, having a stellar online presence can make or break a business. In that vein, having a recognizable and easily recognized domain name can be critical to a business’s overall viability and profitability. Because of this, there are various disputes that can arise regarding the rights to a domain name. Below, we will examine common cybersquatting disputes and how you should move forward if you are in the midst of a cybersquatting predicament. If you are involved in any sort of domain dispute, seek out knowledgeable legal assistance immediately.

Understanding Forms of Cybersquatting

Cybersquatting is defined as a process in which a certain party purchases and registers the domain name of a well-known brand, in the hopes of reselling the domain name back to the company for a profit. Reverse cybersquatting is a process in which a trademark holder (company) attempts to take away a domain name from a party that is actually using the domain name for a legitimate purpose. Lastly, typosquatting is a process in which a party purposely uses the domain name of another company but includes a typo as a means of directing traffic to their website.

What You Can Do

In all of the above-mentioned instances, it is important for you to act quickly. In some cases, a “cease and desist” may scare the other party involved into giving up the domain name in order to avoid legal action. In other cases, you will need to pursue legal action.

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FL cyber law attorneyWith the rapid rise in technological innovation, the world has become a significantly more convenient place. Food and transportation can be ordered without making a phone call, and consumer goods can be delivered without the customer even leaving their house. Yet with the positive innovations, there are always a minority of people that will utilize technology to perform criminal acts. Below, we will discuss the relatively new phenomenon that is cyberstalking, and how to react if you are being stalked through online mediums.

What Is Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is defined as the act of utilizing the internet, email, or other form of communication to stalk or harass another party. These instances are not simply annoying, but can be dangerous extensions of physical stalking. If the person is not aware of your physical address, cyberstalking may be a means for them to access that information, and they may begin to physically stalk. The most common forms of cyberstalking include unsolicited obscene emails, harassment via online chat rooms, or the spreading of false or private information about a party through the use of online mediums. Fortunately, if a person is cyberstalking you, there are a few steps you can take.

Reacting to Cyberstalking

Once you have determined that you are being cyberstalked, it is important to act quickly. The first step you can take is seeking out the help of a skilled professional. Once you have contacted a party that you can trust, they can assist you through the next steps, which may include creating a new email account and resetting previous online passwords. If you are planning to pursue legal action against the stalker, it is important to speak with a qualified legal professional. The other party’s legal team may argue that the person was simply exercising their first amendment right to free speech, or that the harassment the victim faced was simply an unintended consequence related to the perpetrator’s actions. Regardless of how you are hoping to move forward, you need to speak with an adept cyber law professional.

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FL IP lawyerA trademark can mean everything to the viability of a business. A trademark is defined as a phrase, symbol, or word utilized to identify a business. For many of the country’s most successful businesses, their trademark has become a meaningful aspect of our consumer society. All that understood, here in the United States trademark infringement is taken incredibly seriously. The punishment for trademark infringement can ruin a person’s reputation and financially devastate their financial goals. Below we will examine just what trademark infringement truly is, and what the legal ramifications of infringement can be. If you have been accused of trademark infringement, it is paramount to speak with a qualified attorney immediately.

What Is Trademark Infringement?

In the event of trademark infringement, the trademark owner has the right to file a civil lawsuit addressing the violation. The process of infringement takes place when a person or corporation’s intellectual property is utilized, reproduced, or even sold without the company’s permission. In order to prove that infringement took place, there are a number of criteria that must be met. For instance, the trademark in this instance has to be owned by the victim. The attorneys for the victim also must be able to prove that the accused had access to the trademark and knowingly used the trademark without the permission of the owner.

What Trademark Infringement Could Cost You

Due to the financial toll that trademark infringement can take on a company, the punishment for infringement can be significant. Trademark infringement can constitute either a civil or criminal offense. In a civil copyright infringement case, a person may have to pay up to $30,000 in infringement fines. In a case in which the offender was willfully infringing they could be forced to pay as much as $150,000. It should be noted that trademark infringement can cost you in more than just finances. For additional information on the impact of a trademark infringement accusation, contact our team of cyberlaw professionals.

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FL copyright lawyerCopyrighting your intellectual property is simply a good idea. When you have put so much time and effort into creating something, the last thing you want is for others to be able to steal your work and cash in on it themselves. Copyrights can protect a wide array of property, though it does not cover your ideas, operational methods, or facts. The following, however, can be protected with copyright:

  • Written work like novels, poetry, short stories, etc.
  • Dramatic writings
  • Movies
  • Musicals and songs
  • Art such as paintings, drawings, and more
  • Architectural designs

Can Your Website Be Copyrighted?

Although your actual website and domain name do not fall on the list of items that can be covered by copyright, the content you place on the website (or at least some of it) does. There is a fine line about what can be covered or not. For example:

  • A book of recipes can be copyrighted, while a list of ingredients cannot
  • A song can be copyrighted, while the name of a band cannot
  • A written expression or work of art can often be copyrighted, while a slogan or logo cannot (although some of these may qualify for trademarking)
  • A written or drawn representation of your idea may qualify to be copyrighted, but the actual idea itself cannot

How to Establish a Copyright on Your Works

An author or artist who has created a particular work is eligible to copyright that work. If more than one person was involved in the creation, then the joint authors or artists must both be involved in the copyright process. The work must not have been created as part of the creator’s duties under employment for another party.

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FL cyberlaw attorneyParenting in this age of technology brings about challenges that parents of the past never had to worry about. When they are not being monitored, children can have the whole world at their fingertips via smartphones, tablets, personal computers, smart watches, and other means. However, if they are under 13, businesses must comply with the federal Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA), or parents may be able to take legal action, and the businesses or organizations that own the websites or apps may face heavy fines.

What Is the COPPA Rule?

Any website or online service that may collect personal information from children under the age of 13 must follow the rules of COPPA. This includes multiple types of apps such as games, social media, toys that connect to the internet, and many more internet-connected services that children may use. However, it also includes plug-ins, advertising, location-based services, etc. Companies that regularly collect personal information should be careful to ensure that they are compliant with COPPA.

“Personal information” can include anything from full name, address, phone number, or a screen name through which the user can be contacted to social security number, cookie number or IP address, photo or video of the child, or even an audio recording of the child’s voice. This means that some of the information covered by COPPA is not even manually entered by the child, but rather comes from the connection through the computer or handheld device itself.

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FL cyberlaw attorneyIt seems like nearly everything you sign up for now requires you to click “I Agree” at the end of some lengthy legal contract. If you are like most people, you may not even read the words, or you may simply scan through and hit the highlights. What happens when you break the rules of the agreement, without realizing? What do you do when you feel your rights have been infringed upon by a company or organization, but it turns out that you actually agreed to the actions that were taken?

Terms and Conditions or Privacy Policy

Although you may not give it a second thought, you may have clicked a box and agreed to just about anything that has been slipped into their “Terms and Conditions” or their “Privacy Policy.” After all, there are lots of big words that may not even make sense to the average layperson, and who has time to sort through all of that information anyway? However, by virtually “signing” the contract, you are indeed legally bound to hold up your end of the bargain. Therefore, it is generally legally enforceable. Still, there may be a few loopholes.

If you clicked “I Agree” on a “clickwrap agreement,” then the terms would have been placed beside or under the check-box, and that would give a judge reason to believe that you should have actually read the information about what your terms were. This is called “reasonable notice and opportunity to review.” That means you had every opportunity to read it before agreeing, and therefore you should be held responsible.

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Posted on in Domain Disputes

FL domain name attorneyDomains cannot be copyrighted, but they can be trademarked. And, like any other trademark, you apply for the domain trademark in order to protect your property -- in this case, your domain name is probably named after yourself or your brand. In fact, your domain name will only qualify for trademark if it has a name associated with your particular business or service.

If you feel it would be best to also protect domain names that people may confuse for yours, however, then you may also register sites that could be reached through misspelling your company name, or by typing in “.com,” when your real site is “.org.” This will keep other companies from trying to cash in on your name and/or giving you a bad name if they do not provide the same level of product or service as you.

How to Trademark Your Domain Name

Trademarking your internet domain name can be done without much effort. Here are the steps:

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FL cyberlaw attorneyWith the widespread daily use of the internet and social media sites of all kinds, people have access to others’ personal information literally at their fingertips and in their pockets, via their cell phones. As a result, cyberstalking has become a danger that can affect nearly anyone.

What Qualifies as Cyberstalking?

Cyberstalking is any type of communication, through electronics, that is directed toward a particular person and gives that person reason to fear for his or her safety or the safety of another party, such as a loved one, friend, or pet. It may also include threats of damage to the victim’s property. Cyberstalking covers anything that may cause the victim “emotional distress,” or anxiety. The harassment may involve physical threats toward the victim or his and/or her family or friends, such as violence or sexual assault, bodily harm or kidnapping, just to name a few examples.

The cyberstalker may use any kind of electronic device to convey the threats and harassment, including phone calls, voice mails, text messages, instant messages by use of computers, cell phones, pagers, and multiple other means of communication. A law passed earlier this year in Illinois added messages sent through social media to their list of cyberstalking qualifications. Hacking is yet another form of cyberstalking that can negatively affect individuals and organizations that are targeted.

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Tampa trademarks and intellectual property lawyerHow exactly can your trademark be infringed upon? According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, trademark infringement occurs when anyone uses your trademark without permission “on or in connection with goods and/or services” in a way that will “cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods and/or services.”

This means that trademark infringement occurs if the use of your mark, or something too similar, might cause consumers to become confused, even if the infringing party used your trademark unintentionally. This is why individuals and companies must be careful when choosing a trademark in the first place, since a trademark should not be something that can be easily confused with other marks. Trademark protections allow you to protect your brand from being associated with others that may not offer the same quality of work or products that you do.

Determining Whether Your Trademark Has Been Infringed

There are several factors that go into establishing that your trademark has been infringed before taking legal action. Your trademark must have been legally established first, prior to the other individual or company using the mark. The infringing use of your trademark must be similar enough that people could be confused in some way when buying the goods or services. 

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Florida trademark attorney registration infringementNo one wants their ideas and dreams to be stolen. Sometimes, there is a fine line between what is yours and what someone else can legally use. When there is a question, a knowledgeable intellectual property attorney can determine if that line has been crossed. When you own a trademark, it is important to understand your rights and your options for addressing infringement.

Choosing Your Trademark

Trademarks are symbols, sometimes including a name and/or other words, that identify your product. When people see these symbols, they think of your company or your product. Trademarks make it easy to recognize a particular manufacturer or brand, and they can be registered to keep others from using something too similar which could confuse consumers. 

This is why it is important before you choose a trademark to consult an attorney and ensure that your trademark is original enough to avoid scrutiny. Attorneys can conduct a trademark search to ensure that your desired trademark is not already in use. Even simply using your own company’s name could be an infringement on some other business’s trademark, so it must be chosen carefully.

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Florida trademark attorneysTrademark registration law is full of interesting quirks and cases. In this post, we will answer two frequently asked questions about trademark law in the context of well-known brands.

Can One Product Have Multiple Trademarks?

A product or service can have multiple elements that can and should be trademarked individually. The MonopolyⓇ board game provides a good illustration of this. Hasbro, Inc. has registered trademarks for the Monopoly brand name, the Mr. Monopoly name and character, and the unique names and symbols of the game board’s corner squares (In Jail/Just Visiting, Go to Jail, Free Parking, and Go - although any game can use the word “go”). Each of these trademarks is a distinct verbal and/or visual element that consumers use to identify a product as coming from the Monopoly brand.

In an interesting twist, US courts have ruled that Hasbro’s trademark is not infringed by other board games that use names ending in “opoly” combined with a familiar-looking game board, i.e., spaces labeled with place names lining the four sides of a square board. For example, no trademark infringement has been committed by Late for the Sky Production Company’s city-based games such as Tampa-Opoly and university-based games such as Gator-Opoly. These games cannot, however, use the trademarked corner symbols that appear on the Monopoly brand game board nor can they use the Mr. Monopoly character. In addition, when these games use trademarked university logos, they must have permission from the trademark owner.

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Florida trademark attorneyAs a business owner, you most likely have created some valuable intellectual property (IP) that should be trademarked. But are you clear on the definition of a trademark? This article will explain what types of IP can and cannot be trademarked.

FYI, the term “trademark” in its narrowest sense is used in reference to products while the term “service mark” is used in reference to services (e.g., Jiffy LubeⓇ oil change service). However, the term “trademark” is commonly used in reference to both products and services because the same US law generally applies to both.

What Is a Trademark?

A trademark is something that makes it easy for consumers to recognize your brand when they see it. It can consist of words, graphic elements, or both.

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Florida fair use attorneyIf you are planning to use someone else’s copyrighted photographs, music, or other creative works in your business enterprise, you need to be very careful that you do not commit illegal copyright infringement. If you reproduce another person’s copyrighted work without permission and due compensation, you could be sued for damages.

However, not every unlicensed use of a copyrighted work is unlawful. One of the most important issues in copyright law is the concept of “fair use.” The legal doctrine of fair use permits the use of copyrighted music, images, and other creative works in limited circumstances that are considered crucial to protecting the freedom of expression. Examples of fair uses include news reporting, nonprofit educational activities, and critique or commentary.

A user of copyrighted material and the copyright holder often disagree over the differences between fair use and unlawful use. This may result in a lawsuit in which the copyright holder seeks damages from a user of copyrighted material for what they clearly see as copyright infringement, while the user argues that they are protected by the fair use doctrine. Ultimately, the court sides with the law, which applies four specific criteria.

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Florida copyright lawyerWhen you have created copyrighted material such as music, photographs, or books, it is incredibly important to ensure that no one else makes money off your intellectual property. After all, failure to defend your work against copyright infringement means lost income for you.

However, you do need to be aware that some uses of your copyrighted work are considered “fair use.” The legal doctrine of fair use is intended to ensure freedom of expression, a freedom highly valued by Americans and protected by the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

Likewise, if you want to use someone else’s copyright works for your own business purposes, you need to be clear on whether your use constitutes a fair use or a copyright infringement. You do not want to become the target of a lawsuit for damages because you improperly reproduced someone else’s original work.

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Florida online contracts lawyerAffiliate marketing agreements can be an inexpensive way to build online sales for your business, with minimal ongoing effort on your part. An affiliate marketing program is essentially an online, commission-based referral system. An affiliate typically has a popular website, blog, or social media feed, and they agree to feature your product or service in exchange for a small commission. You only pay a commission when someone clicks on the affiliate’s link to your website and subsequently makes a purchase.

Before starting an affiliate marketing program, you first need to ensure that the terms of the agreement make sense for your particular business. A skilled Florida cyberlaw attorney can help you make sure that the terms of any agreement are attractive to potential affiliates, but also profitable for you.

Here are a few key terms to pay attention to in any affiliate marketing agreement:

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Florida cyberlaw attorneyOnline reseller agreements have become a popular business model in recent years. Formed between a product owner and an online reseller, these agreements can produce substantial and incremental income for both parties. Success, however, is heavily dependent on having a well-written online reseller contract.

The Basics of Online Reseller Agreements in Florida

An online reseller is responsible for attracting customers and taking orders for the product. The reseller may obtain orders through their own website and/or through an online marketplace website, such as Amazon or eBay, depending on the terms of the agreement.

The product owner may be a large manufacturer,  U.S. distributor, or even an artisan. The product owner is responsible for shipping orders directly to the end customer. In the case of digital products, such as software or photographs, a customer may download their purchase from either the reseller’s website or the owner’s website, depending on how the reseller agreement is written.

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