Bethesda Business & Commercial Law Blog

In-N-Out burger files suit to protect its brand

Competition in the fast casual restaurant market can be fierce, especially among burger chains.  SmashBurger and Shake Shack are highly motivated to claim market share previously held by McDonald’s and Burger King. So not only must their offerings be top notch, name branding is critical for establishing a following.

This probably explains why In-N-Out Burger jealously defends its brand names. It established trademarks for its offerings such as “Double Double” and “Triple Triple” nearly fifty years ago and arguably owes its popularity to the legal protections around its brands. 

The sound of silence as another crowd-funded company falls

Prior to crowd-funding, budding inventors and entrepreneurs had to seek out people with enough largesse to provide necessary financing to make their ideas come to life. The advent of GoFundMe and other websites helped alleviate much of the heavy lifting.

Kanoa, a Silicon Valley startup, generated a buzz in the crowded crowd-funding field. They touted Bluetooth-enabled, wireless earphones that provided high-tech features, specifically music changing in pace and volume during a workout. Users could also control the ambient sound levels, depending on their surroundings.

Mylan's cost of doing business

EpiPen is drug manufacturer Mylan’s best known product for not only its prominence in the pharmaceutical market, but the controversy surrounding the dramatic price increases over the years. In 2009, the wholesale price of two EpiPens was about $100. By May of 2016, the price rose approximately 500 percent to $609.

The manufacturer of the disposable, pre-filled injector that administers epinephrine to counteract allergic reactions faced a public relations firestorm over the cost jump. Their practices also launched a nationwide debate over soaring drug costs at Mylan and throughout the industry.

Three tips for turning a 'side hustle' into a startup company

The commercials for Uber implore people to get their “side hustle on” as if it is a new idea, but people have been working side jobs for decades. But more people today aspire to turn their side hustles into startup companies. Even more common, these startups are created while an entrepreneur is working full-time.

While there are a number of pitfalls that await the unwary, this post will offer a few helpful tips. 

Things to consider before accepting a severance offer

If you recently received a severance offer, your first instinct might be to take it and walk away without asking questions. On a certain level, this is a safe course of action — after all, you get to pursue some other position with some money in your pocket to ease the transition.

However, whether it is in business or other areas of life, accepting the first offer is often not the best option. In order to get the most out of your severance offer, it is important to first understand why your employer offered it to you in the first place. Once you understand the motivations behind the offer, you are in a better position to either accept or decline, or negotiate specific aspects of it.

The fall and rise of Travis Kalanick?

After Steve Jobs was forced out of the company he founded in 1985, he left Apple to form NeXT. He also spent time funding the spinout that would become Pixar, not to mention a movie called Toy Story.

Spending time soon became biding his time. Following NeXT’s merger with Apple, Jobs became CEO and revived the company he helped start.

The state of business in Maryland

According to the big picture of a yearly study, business is good in Maryland. However, some of the specific details reveal a mixed bag of progress and certain levels of concern two years into the administration of Gov. Larry Hogan.

CNBC’s annual list of America’s best states for business ranked the Old Line State 25th, up five spots from the previous year after leapfrogging over six other states in 2015.

More acquisitions of CROs anticipated through 2018

While the ongoing rift in Congress over health care reform continues to garner headlines, the growing activity in the pharmaceutical market continues with little coverage or fanfare. Despite this, the mergers between contract research organizations (CROs, for short) will likely affect health care in ways only investors may see right now.

For the uninitiated, CROs work with many prominent drug manufacturers to get FDA approval for a number of products. The help with tasks such as running clinical trials, discovering and evaluating subjects for such trials and maintaining data that could be cross-referenced in the future. But like many businesses trying to survive (or prosper) in other industries, more pharmaceutical companies are looking to purchase or merge with CROs in order to be more efficient.

Are business interests dictating school calendars?

Prior to the summer of 2016, Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ordered public schools to end by June 15 and wait to resume classes until after Labor Day. The controversial decision was seen as a boon to business and tourism throughout the state during the summer months.

Hogan’s executive order did have a caveat. Charter, low performing and “at risk” schools received a waiver to continue classes after June 15. While specific terms were used, definitions were lacking at best.

A Supreme Court ruling versus the court of public opinion

After years of legal battles that saw them lose the rights to their controversial trademark, the NFL team based in Washington picked up a legal “fumble,” thanks to the Supreme Court. While they haven’t crossed the goal line just yet, the Redskins are in the “red zone” thanks to a decision involving the name of an Asian-American rock band.

In a unanimous decision, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office discriminated against musician Simon Tam after refusing his trademark for The Slants.” Blocking trademarks based on being offensive violates the First Amendment’s free speech protection.

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