Washington, D.C. – U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers, for the 11th consecutive year, collaboratively announce the release of the “Best Law Firms” rankings. The Kim & Lahey Law Firm has been recognized for this honor three times since it was founded in 2018.
Greenville, S.C. — August 19, 2021— A founding member of the Kim & Lahey Law Firm is named Best Lawyers® 2022 Trademark “Lawyer of The Year” in Greenville. This is the seventh time Douglas Kim has been recognized by Best Lawyers. The long-time intellectual property attorney says, “I am honored to have been selected for this ‘Lawyer of the Year’ award especially since it’s determined by peer reviews.”
The 2022 edition of The Best Lawyers in America recognizes the professional excellence of more than 66,000 lawyers in 147 practice areas. “Lawyer of the Year” honors are awarded to only one lawyer per practice area in each region with extremely high overall feedback from their peers, making it an exceptional distinguishment. Of all the attorneys in private practice in the United States, only 5% are recognized by Best Lawyers of America.
This is the second time Doug has received this top honor. In 2019, Doug was named Best Lawyers® Patent “Lawyer of The Year” in Greenville.
Doug is an innovation enthusiast, entrepreneur and long-time business advocate who enjoys providing legal solutions and strategies tailored to each client’s goals, from start-ups to multinational corporations. Doug helps clients match their intellectual property goals with their business goals by providing legal strategies to protect inventions (patents), brands (trademarks), websites, software, apps, music, photos, and websites (copyright, licenses and Internet law), and trade secrets. Doug also chairs the South Carolina Bar Intellectual Property and Innovation Committee.
Anyone who has registered or applied for a trademark knows it eventually must be renewed. Unfortunately, bad actors know this too and are trying to rip you off. According to the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), trademark renewal scams are on the rise. They’re becoming so sophisticated that the USPTO has filed several trademark applications to increase protection for its own brand.
Being on a national trademark register is one of the many benefits of have a federally registered trademark. It allows others to search and find your registration. When other companies are trying to determine if a name is “available,” one of the first places they look is the USPTO database of trademark registrations and pending applications. To keep a trademark registration enforceable, it must be renewed periodically. Generally, the first renewal is five years from registration. The next one in five more years and then every 10 years after that. Unfortunately, bad actors are also looking at the public database. The USPTO says they’re seeing an increasing number of misleading solicitations and trademark filing scams.
The USPTO has also stated that it is “seeing more sophisticated enterprises entering the space” with some scams even impersonating the US Patent and Trademark Office. I know first hand. I received a fraudulent text regarding my trademark just last year. The USPTO has taken steps in the past to curb this misleading and sometimes illegal behavior, including providing scam alerts, working with law enforcement and sanctioning filers who violate the US Patent and Trademark Office rules.
On August 4, 2021, the Department of Commerce (the agency under which the USPTO sits), filed several applications for the federal registration of USPTO marks. The USPTO hopes with a federal registration, it can improve its ability to stop these scams and protect the USPTO brand from improper use by those trying to impersonate or falsely claim affiliation with the USPTO. In appreciation of the potential conflict of filing an application in its own office (because the application would be examined by the USPTO) the Department of Commerce is the actual applicant.
As we see more and more activity online and with more and more access to information, we can expect these scams to continue. If you receive a notification from a party you do not know (for example, not your law firm) take caution. Some of the known violators call themselves names like:
“Patent and Trademark Office”
“Patent & Trademark Office”
“Patent and Trademark Agency”
“Patent and Trademark Bureau”
“Trademark Compliance Center”
“Trademark Compliance Office”
“Trademark Office LTD”
“United States Trademark Registration Office”
One company in Belize went so far as to attempt to register the mark PATENT & TRADEMARK AGENCY. In response, the USPTO stated, “Registration is refused because the applied-for mark PATENT & TRADEMARK AGENCY consists of or includes matter which may falsely suggest a connection with a US government agency, specifically, the US Patent and Trademark Office.”
If you have any doubt as to the authenticity, truthfulness or honesty of any communication you receive concerning your trademark registration or application, contact an experienced trademark attorney for assistance.
The Kim & Lahey Law Firm is proud to announce that our attorneys are being honored by Greenville Business Magazine as part of South Carolina’s 2021 Legal Elite. This is the second year in a row that all Kim & Lahey attorneys have made the list.
Greenville Business Magazine’s Legal Elite is the only regional awards program that allows every active attorney to nominate and vote for their peers across 26 categories. The following are the Kim & Lahey attorneys selected for inclusion, as well as the practice areas in which their work is recognized:
Douglas Kim: Intellectual Property and Innovation – Business Litigation
Seann Lahey: Intellectual Property and Innovation – Business Litigation
Jason Rosen: Tax and Estate Planning – Corporate Law, Mergers, and Acquisitions
Casey Martens: Labor and Employment
Thank you to all of our peers who voted and congratulations to all of the South Carolina attorneys who are being recognized this year.
Firms included in the 2021 Edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a ﬁrm must ﬁrst have a lawyer recognized in The Best Lawyers in America©, which recognizes the top 5% of private practicing lawyers in the United States. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.
Since it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Best Lawyers lists are compiled based on an exhaustive peer-review evaluation. Almost 108,000 industry leading lawyers are eligible to vote (from around the world), and they have received over 13 million evaluations on the legal abilities of other lawyers based on their specific practice areas around the world. For the 2021 Edition of The Best Lawyers in America©, 9.4 million votes were analyzed, which resulted in more than 67,000 leading lawyers being included in the new edition. Lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed; therefore inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.
The pandemic has forced many changes in the business world, from closings and layoffs for some, to successful pivots for others. One surprising outcome is the surge of new startups in America, which had increased by almost 50% for the year by October.
To celebrate this renaissance, i4Series is hosting a free online event as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week on November 19 from 11am – 12pm. Whether you’re a startup or looking to scale your business, join us to learn about software and legal strategies that put you on a path to success.
Doug Kim has been supporting the entrepreneurship community for more than 20 years, helping innovative businesses of all sizes thrive. Now, more than ever, during this time of rapid innovation and uncertainty, entrepreneurs need legal strategies that empower them to succeed, strategies like protecting inventions and your brand, protecting your work from being copied, and using contracts to safeguard your interests to name a few.
He is joined by fellow speaker, Zac Muma, a Business Solutions Specialist for Microsoft. Zac works with entrepreneurs to identify what they need in their software stack and helps them get set up. With so many apps available, it’s hard to know which ones you may need and how they work together. Whether you’re B2B, eCommerce or offer professional services, Zac will show you ways to streamline operations and get new clients.
We’re proud to announce that Doug Kim and Jason Rosen have been selected to the 2020 South Carolina Super Lawyers® list. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers® to receive this honor.
Super Lawyers®, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement.
The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys.
The Super Lawyers® lists are published nationwide in Super Lawyers® Magazines and in leading city and regional magazines and newspapers across the country. Super Lawyers Magazines also feature editorial profiles of attorneys who embody excellence in the practice of law. For more information about Super Lawyers®, visit SuperLawyers.com.
Washington, D.C. – U.S. News & World Report and Best Lawyers, for the 10th consecutive year, collaboratively announce the release of the “Best Law Firms” rankings. This is the second time in less than two years that the Kim & Lahey Law Firm has been recognized for this honor.
Firms included in the 2020 Edition of U.S. News – Best Lawyers “Best Law Firms” are recognized for professional excellence with consistently impressive ratings from clients and peers. To be eligible for a ranking, a ﬁrm must ﬁrst have a lawyer recognized in The Best Lawyers in America©, which recognizes the top 5% of private practicing lawyers in the United States. Achieving a tiered ranking signals a unique combination of quality law practice and breadth of legal expertise.
“Choosing the right law ﬁrm can be a vital decision,” said Tim Smart, executive editor at U.S. News & World Report. “The rankings draw on U.S. News’ 35 years of experience evaluating complex institutions to help individuals and companies alike make the best decisions.”
The 2020 rankings are based on the highest number of participating ﬁrms and client votes received on record. Almost 16,000 lawyers provided more than 1,229,000 law ﬁrm assessments, and more than 12,000 clients participated providing 107,000 evaluations.
“For the 2020 ‘Best Law Firms’ publication, the evaluation process has remained just as rigorous and discerning as it did when we ﬁrst started ten years ago.” says Phil Greer, CEO of Best Lawyers. “This year we reviewed 14,931 law ﬁrms throughout the United States – across 75 national practice areas – and a total of 2,106 ﬁrms received a national law ﬁrm ranking. We are proud that the ‘Best Law Firms’ rankings continue to act as an indicator of excellence throughout the legal industry.”
You’ve heard of SEO. How about SCO? It stands for Shipping Cost Optimization, a patent pending method of using artificial intelligence to slash shipping costs. This homegrown innovation, called IntelliPack, has thrust local entrepreneur, John Peck, CEO, President, & Co-Founder of FastFetch Corporation into the national spotlight.
Peck joined Katie Neau, RCI Supervisor of Snap-on Tools at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ (CSCMP) EDGE 2019 Conference on September 18, 2019, in Anaheim, California, for their presentation about “Using Artificial Intelligence to Slash Shipping Costs.” They beat out Silicon Valley giant Intel Corporation, as the winners of the 2019 Supply Chain Innovation Award (SCIA) .
Snap-on Tools is saving 11% annually on total shipping costs at its distribution center in Crystal Lake, IL. The initiative employs artificial intelligence to minimize wasted space in shipping cartons as well as new logistical processes to cut corrugated material costs by 20%, dunnage costs by 27% and packing labor costs by 30%. Peck says companies like Snap-on Tools often save an average of $18,000 per month on small parcel carrier shipping costs using his patent pending packing process.
It took Peck about six months to develop the new method. He says, “You have to be able to calculate the best box size for shipping an unpredictable collection of items of given sizes in less than a second. When someone orders online, that one order may have eight to 10 things in it. Each comes in different shapes and sizes and there are more than 100 boxes to choose from. Using the right size box is important.”
Doug Kim represents FastFetch. He says, “Because it’s our job to help with intellectual property protection, we get to see these inventions very early on. It’s exciting to see our clients be successful, to see an idea go from conception to commercialization.”
Peck’s method of using A.I. to slash shipping costs can virtually figure out how to place the items in the best sized box. “It’s going to make e-commerce affordable,” says Peck. “Consumers want free shipping, but someone has to pay for it. Our method ensures there is minimal wasted space. Smaller boxes means more packages can fit in each shipment. Instead of needing multiple trips, using multiple trucks or airplanes, now more can fit into each trip and that will help shipping companies become more efficient too.”
Congratulations to the entire FastFetch team! Watch the video below to see SCO in action.
In our practice we are seeing an increase in software license disputes between software vendors and users. It seems that the main reason for the increase in disputes is the change in technology, which has changed the way in which software is created, distributed and used. This problem is aggravated by either current license agreements not being updated to reflect these changes or by vendors making license terms more onerous for users.
Technology is creating a need to modify and update license agreements.
The technological changes that are at the root of this increase in disputes include the rapid increase in cloud computing and virtualization of software. License agreements that were user based, seat based or even enterprise based do not fit well with the cloud/virtualization model. In response, software vendors are seeking to identify the actual number of user or copies by exercising their audit rights which users typically try to resist, thus creating tension between the vendor and the user. When creating, distributing or using software, it is wise to focus on the licensing model being used as well as how it fits into the existing IT system. As more and more software moves to the cloud and license agreements are not updated, we can expect to see license disputes increase.
Vendors are changing their licensing terms.
For example, Java, one of the most widely adopted programming languages (Indeed reported in 2016 that it was the second most sought after skill for programming) had its license changed so that Oracle JDK is free to individuals for use, development, testing, prototyping and demonstrations, but now requires a commercial license to avoid the GPLv2+CE license. The GLPv2 license requires that all the source code be made public, which completely removes any ability to prevent others from using your source – an outcome not very popular with most software vendors seeking to license their software.
We are also seeing license terms being used aggressively where some vendors are seeking to make up for lost revenues caused by the open source model. Software developers, that charge for their time, turn to open source for efficiencies that can increase profits and allow savings to be passed to customers. However, some of the open source licensing is being modified without the user’s knowledge, creating significant legal and financial issues.
For example, some software licenses have clauses along the lines of “[Vendor] expressly reserves the right to modify the Terms of Service at any time in its sole discretion by including such alteration and/or modification in these Terms of Service, along with a notice of the effective date of such modified Terms of Service.” The issue is that the individual in an organization that approves licenses is typically not the user that would encounter the “modified Term of Services.” So terms change without the company’s knowledge. In one case, we saw the license go from free to thousands of dollars per user. The user simply would not have used the software in the first place, had it known of this change and is now in the process of removing the software from its product.
The Recent Supreme Court may increase Software copyright disputes.
In March, the Supreme Court clarified that to bring a copyright infringement case, the copyright holder must have the copyright registration in hand. This changed the rule in many areas of the country that allowed for the copyright holder to simply have an application on file. If software vendors begin to apply for and secure copyrights upon the creation of software (as they should), they will be entitled to attorney fees and statutory damages (recovery up to $150K per infringement without proving actual damages). Under the old rule, where only the application in file was needed, the ability to recover attorney fees and statutory damages we largely lost. Knowing that the recovery of attorney fees and statutory damages are available, vendors may not be likely to use copyright infringement to more aggressively enforce their licensees or even instigate litigation.
What’s next? Prevention!
- Review the policies within your organization as to how software is used and downloaded. For example, can anyone download software and click “I Agree” and bind the company to the licenses?
- Review the existing license agreement and amendment, renegotiate or even cancel as appropriate. We are even seeing software vendors elect to use the laws of other countries to benefit for more advantageous legal structure than those in the US. For example, because Canada can allow for the modification of the license with only notice to the user, some vendors are electing to use Canadian law (localization). In 1984, Louisiana enacted the Software License Enforcement Act (SLEA) which, among other terms, state that a software license agreement can ONLY be enforced if: (a) the user can clearly read a software license notice on the software packaging; (b) the software license notice indicates that by opening the package or using the software the end user accepts the terms of the enclosed license agreement and (c) the notice states that the software may be returned if the end user does not accept the license agreement. Note how this law does not fit cloud-virtualization very well.
- At the software design stage for customer software, understand the open source used, third party software used, third party licenses needed, and the effect of the rest of the IT system already in place. For example, does the custom project legally allow for cloud-virtualization? Does the software architecture need seat licenses, enterprise, cloud, or some other license structure?
- Work with an experienced attorney that understands software, software licensing and the trends in this area.
- Act early, users can typically have a better position in negotiating when the potential issues are identified pre-dispute and can resolve the potential dispute with the vendor. Vendors can better service users when the business and legal relationship is clearly understood, and unauthorized use is avoided.
If you have any questions regarding this article, contact Doug Kim, 864-973-6699, email@example.com or Cherish Benton, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Doug Kim, a Physics major from Davidson College, began his professional career as a computer programmer and software engineer. His intellectual property career began in 1998, when he combined his business experience with his legal education and was involved with enforcing a client’s patent against multiple infringers. Since then, Doug has created a well-rounded IP practice that provides legal solutions and strategies tailored to each client from multinational corporations to start-ups. Doug provides his clients with strategies to protect inventions (patents), brands (trademarks), websites, software, apps, music, photos, and websites (copyright, licenses and Internet law), and trade secret (the “secret sauce”).
These materials have been prepared for informational purposes only and are not legal advice. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. Internet subscribers and online readers should not act upon this information without seeking professional counsel.