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Trademarks and Selecting the Name for Your Start-Up Business

By | Business Law, Chinese Business Law, Intellectual Property, Start-Ups | No Comments

WeWork vs. UrWork

A recently filed lawsuit highlights the importance of selecting a business name which does not infringe on the trademark rights of another business.

WeWork is an American shared-office provider valued at $20 billion.

UrWork is a Chinese competitor, which opens its U.S. operations this month.  It is valued at $1.2 billion.

WeWork has now sued UrWork, arguing that the names are “deceptively similar” and that the public may be confused over whether the companies are connected in any way.  See http://fortune.com/2017/09/12/wework-sues-urwork/

Importance of Choosing a Proper Name

If a court now requires UrWork to change its name, it will be very costly to the company and a blow to its reputation.  Simply enduring the time and cost of litigation over this issue is a big deal and distraction.  UrWork may also face serious financial penalties for trademark infringement.

Start-ups therefore should be careful when selecting names to ensure no other business’s trademark or other intellectual property rights are infringed upon.  Even more, there is no excuse under the law if a business owner was simply unaware of the other similarly-named business.

Steps to Take When Selecting a Business Name

A good lawyer can assist the client in conducting a search of existing names to determine how protectable a name or trademark will be.  There are subscription-only databases available to conduct a thorough search.  Formal trademark registration with the company’s state of residence, and with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office are also protections one can take. And, if the business may eventually expand internationally, then it is advisable to conduct an international search, as well, and again at the beginning stages prior to selecting a business name, and then also register in such foreign countries.  Even where no existing business name conflicts with your business, there have been many instances where someone will watch as your business becomes successful, then register your business name in that foreign country, only to hold onto the registration and sell it at high cost or instead relinquish it after litigation, in the very least delaying your business’s entry into that country.

Importantly, the acceptance of a name by the secretary of state for the creation of a company is considered completely separate from whether such name infringes on another company’s rights.  And, of course it is important to check that the domain or website with the company’s name is available to purchase for a reasonable sum.

These, and other steps, are important for ensuring that the business you will be working hard to build will be protected in the future.

Kimura London LLP advises business owners on securing their trademark and other intellectual property rights, and also works closely with specialist intellectual property attorneys to provide the best advice to its clients.  We also zealously represent businesses that have disputes or litigation regarding their business name or trademark. 

Negligence – An Introduction

By | Business Law, Litigation | No Comments

Introduction to an Ever-Present Legal Concept

Negligence is one of the most common claims in a lawsuit. In brief, negligence has 4 total components:

1. Duty. A party has an obligation to another party, or to the public.

2. Breach. A party’s action, or failure to act, did not meet such party’s duty. In other words, the party acted differently than a reasonably prudent person would act.

3. Causation. Such breach caused, at least in part, damage to another party, and the damage was to some extent reasonably foreseeable.

4. Damages. A party was damaged in some way, whether it be bodily injury, incurred medical expenses, lost earning capacity, or pain and suffering, among others.

Negligence can apply to an endless variety of situations, such as medical treatments, car accidents, business dealings, unsafe conditions in public or private property, and so on.  Specific, recent examples of negligence in the law include:

1. Hotel liable for $3.5 million for giving key to wrong person.
Here, the hotel receptionist gave a man a key without asking him for identification. The man proceeded to use the key to enter a woman’s room, and rape her.  In general terms, the hotel (1) had a duty to keep its guests rooms secure, (2) breached such duty [although the breach was by an employee, the hotel itself is also held responsible – see concept of Respondeat Superior], (3) could foresee that problems such as theft, violence, or even rape may result, and (4) the victim suffered severe post-traumatic stress.
(Source: Daily Journal, April 28, 2017, Rape Victim Wins $3.5M from Kern County Jury).

2. County of Los Angeles liable for $3 million for negligent lifeguard.
A drowning occurred at a County pool with lifeguards present. The parents of the drowned victim claimed the lifeguards were negligent.  Rather than go to trial, the parents settled with the County for $3 million.  As the case settled, the County did not admit to liability. However, it can be reasoned that (1) the lifeguards had a duty to look out for the safety of swimmers, (2) the lifeguards may have in some way fell short of such duty, (3) drowning was foreseeable, and (4) the drowning resulted in the loss of the son’s love, companionship, comfort, and care, among other damages.
(Source: Daily Journal, August 18, 2017, Verdicts and Settlements).

Kimura London LLP, a law firm, represents and counsels both individuals and businesses (1) to formulate best practices for negligence prevention, (2) to identify and assess a potential negligence claim, (3) to pursue a legitimate lawsuit based on negligence, as well as (4) to defend against potential and existing negligence claims.

Listing on Airbnb May Cause Homeowners Insurance Exclusion

By | Homeowners Insurance | No Comments

The Sharing Economy and You

Homeowners insurance is an essential protection for those owning real estate.

Among other protections, a homeowners insurance policy can pay to repair or rebuild your home if damaged or destroyed by fire, smoke, or vandalism.  It can also cover personal property stolen from one’s home and injuries a third party may sustain while on the property, including from pets.  And, there are many other ways to benefit from it: Believe it or not, Bill Cosby even used his policy to defend himself.[1]

However, a recently filed case shows that an insurance company may try to exclude coverage when the property is used as a rental, including when a homeowner merely lists their property on a rental service, such as Airbnb.

Notably, such exclusion may not solely be for the period of time a renter stays at the property.  Instead, simply by listing the property, the insurance exclusion may begin immediately and last indefinitely into the future.  Excluded coverage means none of one’s claims are reimbursed by the insurance company.

Airbnb and similar rental services provide new income streams, but at significant risk if insurance coverage is excluded.

Kimura London LLP is an elite Orange County based law firm that represents policy holders when they have been wrongfully denied coverage by their insurance carriers. Strict time limits may apply to a denial of your claim, so you shouldn’t wait. Contact us today at 949-474-0940 and we will respond promptly.

(See Richer v. Travelers Commercial Insurance Company el al., 17CV000777 (Napa Super. Ct., filed July 12, 2017); https://www.law360.com/realestate/articles/945454/airbnb-listing-led-to-wrongful-coverage-denial-suit-says (subscription required).

[1] http://fortune.com/2016/03/14/bill-cosby-homeowners-insurance/