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The average consumer has probably heard of terms like “trademark” and “copyright” before, but what falls under trademark?  Do colors or color schemes fall under the category of a trademark?  The answer may surprise you. Trademarks and service marks are “any word, name, symbol, or device, or of any combination thereof” that identify and distinguish a mark owner’s goods or services from those manufactured or sold by others.  They act as source indicators of the…
A federal court in California agreed to remove the two songwriters of the Disney animated film Frozen from a copyright infringement lawsuit, for now. The lawsuit claims that the hit song “Let It Go” was copied from a Chilean song called “Volar,” and that the two songs are so strikingly similar that Disney could not claim its song was independently created. The plaintiff, Jamie Ciero, originally filed the lawsuit in November 2017 wherein he alleged…
How long does a copyright owner have to bring suit for copyright infringement? The answer is three years from the date of the last infringement, regardless of when the very first infringement occurred. Copyright law follows the “separate-accrual rule,” which provides for a new three-year statute of limitations each time an infringement occurs. While the three-year look back period allows copyright owners to maintain actions years or decades after the initial infringement occurs (assuming subsequent…
Trade secrets, amorphously defined as any confidential business information which gives an enterprise a competitive edge, have not had much federal protection as compared to other intellectual property vehicles such as copyrights, trademarks and patents. Traditionally, trade secret misappropriation cases have been litigated in state court using state law. Even though the majority of states have adopted the Uniform Trade Secrets Act (“UTSA”), there are still notable differences among the various version of the UTSA…
Earlier this year, the New Jersey Appellate Division reversed a Bergen County trial court decision, which had dismissed a construction defect case filed by a condominium association more than six years after the condominium complex was substantially completed, but less than six years after the association received the transition engineering report identifying construction defects. Finding the Association had six years from the date of substantial completion during which to file suit, the trial court rejected…
As a general rule a party must exhaust its administrative remedies before it can invoke the jurisdiction of the courts. However, the Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Ninth, and Tenth Circuits have all held that exhaustion is not a prerequisite to suits alleging statutory ERISA violations.
Before Congress enacted the Multiemployer Pension Plan Amendments Act of 1980 ("MPPAA"), "many employers were withdrawing from multiemployer plans because they could avoid withdrawal liability if the plan survived for five years after the date of their withdrawal," and Congress was concerned " 'that ERISA did not adequately protect multiemployer pension plans from the adverse consequences that result when individual employers terminate their participation or withdraw.' "
ERISA section 1054(g)(1), provides in relevant part: "The accrued benefit of a participant under a plan may not be decreased by an amendment of the plan ...." The anti-cutback rule is a "crucial" aspect of ERISA's protection of pension benefits. In light of the importance of the anti-cutback rule and in order to avoid work-arounds that curtail accrued benefits by means other than formal plan amendments, courts have deemed actions to be violative of the anti-cutback rule even when there had not been a formal amendment of a pension plan.
Each plan subject to minimum-funding requirements must maintain a minimum-funding standard account and meet a minimum-funding standard. A funding standard account consists of charges for normal costs, amortization costs and funding deficiencies, offset by credits for amounts contributed by the employer, amortization gains, waived funding deficiencies, and the excess of any debit balance in the funding standard account over any debit balance in the alternative minimum standard account, if any.
ERISA establishes the fiduciary responsibilities applicable to employee benefit plan administrators and sets out certain fiduciary standards by which trustees' actions will be measured, including the mandate that trustees are to discharge their duties solely in the interest of the plan with the care, skill, and diligence which a prudent individual would use in similar circumstances in accordance with the instruments governing the plan and through diversifying the plan's investments.