Trademark Attorney Minneapolis | Cease and Desist Letter: Minimum Format

Most trademark lawyers in Minneapolis recommend that a cease and desist letter regarding trademark violation should contain, at the very minimum, the following components:

1. Trademark Owner’s Identity

The cease and desist notice should identify who is the trademark owner. If the letter is being drafted by a trademark owner’s representative, then representative should identify in the letter himself and his relation to the trademark owner.

2. Trademark

The letter should state clearly the trademark that the owner believes is being violated. If the trademark is formally registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office or a relevant state or foreign government authority, then provide the registration number in the letter. It is a good idea to attach a copy of the registration certificate to the letter.

3. Notice of Violation

The letter should explicitly state that the recipient violated the trademark owner’s rights. One of the primary purpose of a cease and desist letter is to give notice, and, usually, the best way to do so is to state it clearly.

4. Description of Violation

The cease and desist notice should explain how the recipient violated the trademark owner’s rights. Usually, a general statement briefly describing the nature of the violation is sufficient. There is no reason to provide a detailed violation of the account for two reasons. First, it is not a good idea to divulge too much information to the other side. Second, a overly-detailed account of violation may actually weaken the trademark owner’s case by stating facts which the other side can prove to be wrong.

Nevertheless, in some situations, describing a violation in an attached trademark complaint may be highly beneficial to the trademark owner’s case, demonstrating the seriousness of his intentions and his confidence in the case. This strategy should be discussed with a trademark attorney in Minneapolis.

5. Description of the Trademark’s Strength

If there are favorable facts that augment the perceived strength of the owner’s trademark, then it may be beneficial to briefly state them in the letter. This is especially true if this a descriptive trademark that acquired distinctiveness through a long period of use and promotion. Again, a trademark lawyer should determine how to pursue this strategy.

6. Trademark Owner’s Demands

The cease and desist letter should set the demands of the trademark owner. Demands may vary greatly depending on the circumstances of a case, but there are some fairly common ones, such as:

a) Cease and desist all illegal activity;
b) Promise in writing not to violate the trademark in the future; and
c) Destruction of infringing materials.

7. Deadline

The cease and desist notice should state the deadline for a written response to the letter. The deadline should give the recipient a fair chance to comply with the trademark owner’s demands. Usually, Minneapolis trademark lawyers use a period between seven and thirty days.

Conclusion

The above-mentioned components merely constitute a basic skeleton of a cease and desist letter. Putting the “meat on those bones”, however, is an art rather than a science: more components can be added, certain arguments may be emphasized, others ignored, wording must be selected very carefully keeping in mind a highly probable litigation in the near future, and countless number of other considerations should be taken into account. Remember, a cease and desist letter is more about advocacy and negotiation, rather than simply giving notice.

This is why you should retain a Minneapolis trademark attorney to write a cease and desist letter for you. Sherayzen Law Office can help! We can draft a proper cease and desist letter, help negotiate a settlement, and litigate the case for you.

Call us NOW to discuss your trademark case with an experienced trademark attorney!

Higher Education Tax Credits

This is an education tax credit update from a Minneapolis tax lawyer.  American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit are two federal tax credits designed to help eligible taxpayers offset their higher education expenses.

To qualify for either credit, a taxpayer must pay postsecondary tuition and fees for himself, spouse or dependent. The credit may be claimed by the parent or the student, but not by both. If the student was claimed as a dependent, the student cannot file for the credit.

Only one of the credits is available in a single tax year per each student. This means that, in a given tax year, a taxpayer cannot claim both credits for the same student’s college expenses. If a taxpayer pays college expenses for two or more students in the same year, then he can choose to take credits on a per-student, per-year basis. For example, the taxpayer can claim the American Opportunity Credit for a sophomore daughter and the Lifetime Learning Credit for a senior son.

Let’s look closer at some of the key facts about American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Tax Credit.

The American Opportunity Credit

The credit is available for students enrolled in a post-secondary education program in pursuit of an undergraduate degree or other recognized educational credential, but only for the first four years. The student must be enrolled at least half time for at least one academic period. Qualified expenses include tuition and fees, coursed related books supplies and equipment.

The credit can be up to $2,500 per eligible student. The full credit is generally available to eligible taxpayers who make less than $80,000 or $160,000 for married couples filing a joint return. Moreover the credit is refundable; this means that a taxpayer may be able to receive up to $1,000 in refund even if he owes no taxes.

Lifetime Learning Credit

Unlike the American Opportunity Credit, the Lifetime Learning Tax Credit is available for all years of postsecondary education and for courses to acquire or improve job skills. This also means that the student does not need to be studying in pursuit of a degree or other recognized education credential. Qualified expenses include tuition and fees, course related books, supplies and equipment.

The credit can be up to $2,000 per eligible student. The full credit is generally available to eligible taxpayers who make less than $60,000 or $120,000 for married couples filing a joint return. This tax credit, however, is not refundable and is limited to the amount of tax a taxpayer must pay on his return.

If you have questions with respect to any tax credits, contract us NOW to discuss your case with an experienced Minneapolis tax attorney.

Trademark Attorney in Minnesota: Cease and Desist Letter and Trademark Enforcement

Prior to engaging in expensive trademark litigation, it is common for Minnesota trademark lawyers to send the violating parties a notice of infringement, demanding that the violators comply with certain demands of the trademark owner and threatening lawsuit otherwise.  This notice is usually called “cease and desist letter”, because it demands that the violator: ceases his trademark infringing activities and promises to desist from future trademark infringement.

Cease and Desist Letter is a very useful pre-litigation tool.  Three factors are usually cited by trademark lawyers in Minnesota to support the usefulness of a cease and desist notice.  First, the letter provides notice to the recipient that he is in violation of the sender’s trademark violations.  This means that, if the recipient persists in his illegal activity, his actions are very likely to be regarded as “intentional”, opening up a host of new legal claims and larger penalties.  Moreover, the trademark owner can subsequently argue that he has done everything he could to end this case amiably and it was the violator who did not want to stop his illegal acts. Second, the letter gives the recipient a chance to stop his infringing activities without paying the costs of an expensive trial and, ultimately, paying a hefty penalty.  Third, the letter is also a chance for the trademark owner to enforce his rights without going through an expensive trial with (depending on the facts of the case) less than certain outcome.   Fourth, the recipient of the letter (unless he is sure of his innocence and wants to go straight to trial) is likely to feel compelled to produce some sort of response to the letter.  This response may be a good way for the trademark owner to assess the strength of the other side’s case.

The format of a cease and desist letter may vary wildly in substance as well as style. In fact, while a certain minimum format is commonly used, the content and style of writing a cease and desist letter depends greatly on the circumstances of a case and is more of an art, than science.

Sherayzen Law Office can help you enforce your trademark rights.  We can help you draft “Cease and Desist Notice”, negotiate the settlement with the party, and litigate your case in court.

Call us NOW to discuss your case with an experienced trademark attorney!

Business Lawyer: Essential Characteristics of Closely Held Corporations

Most small business lawyers in St. Paul deal with closely held corporations. In order to understand this form of business entity, it is useful to explore the essential characteristics shared by the predominant majority of closely held corporations. The purpose of this article is to provide a general overview of the four most common characteristics of a closely held corporation.

1. No Public Ownership of Stock

This characteristic is present in almost every closely held corporation. Lack of “public ownership of stock” usually means that the stock of a closely held corporation has never been sold in a public offering (as this term is used in connection with Securities and Exchange Act of 1933 and similar state statutes). It may also mean that the stock of a closely held corporation is not listed on any stock exchanges or otherwise regularly traded. The corollary of this characteristic is that it is often very difficult to determine the value of a closely held corporation’s stock.

2. Closely Controlled by Few Shareholders

It is very common for a closely held corporation to be controlled by one individual, a single family, or a small group of shareholders. This characteristic also holds true even where a large percentage (yet less than controlling share) of a corporation’s stock is owned by a public shareholder, while the controlling number of shares is in the hands of an individual or a private group of shareholders. In such atypical cases, closely held corporations are often being singled out for special tax treatment. The converse of this reality is that the present of a public shareholder may reduce substantially many of the tax problems (for example, in the are of the tax on accumulated earnings).

3. Management by Owners

In a closely held corporation, the shareholders and the operating executives are often the same individuals. Moreover, in many cases, the stock held by these individuals is not merely an investment, but rather the principal source of income.

4. Restricted Ownership

Closely held corporations are also often “closed” corporations. This means it is often difficult for an outsider to obtain stock in a closely held corporation, and it is difficult for a current shareholder to sell stock except to other shareholders or the corporation itself. Very often, this situation arises intentionally as part of the legal structure of the corporation as defined by the Shareholder agreements.

Conclusion

As one see, usually a closely held corporation is generally a corporation that is owned, controlled and managed by a few private shareholders; the stock of such corporation is neither traded frequently nor listed on any of stock exchanges. These are obviously only the most common characteristics. There plenty of variations which may also be classified as “closely held corporations”, but even these variations usually share most of these common characteristics.

Small Business Health Care Tax Credit

This is a Small Business Health Care Tax Credit update from a tax attorney in Minneapolis.

Generally, the Small Business Health Care Tax Credit is available to small employers that pay at least half of the premiums for single health insurance coverage for their employees. It is specifically targeted to help small businesses and tax-exempt organizations that primarily employ moderate- and lower-income workers.

The credit can be claimed by small businesses during the tax years starting 2010 through 2013 and for any two years after that. The maximum credit is 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible small businesses and 25 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations. Beginning in 2014, the maximum tax credit will increase to 50 percent of premiums paid by eligible small business employers and 35 percent of premiums paid by eligible tax-exempt organizations.

The maximum credit goes to smaller employers –– those with 10 or fewer full-time equivalent (FTE) employees –– paying annual average wages of $25,000 or less. The credit is completely phased out for employers that have 25 or more FTEs or that pay average wages of $50,000 or more per year. Since the eligibility rules are based in part on the number of FTEs, not the number of employees, employers that use part-time workers may qualify even if they employ more than 25 individuals.

Eligible small businesses should first use Form 8941 to figure the credit and then include the amount of the credit as part of the general business credit on its income tax return.

If you have any questions with respect to eligibility or calculation of your small business health care tax credit, contact Sherayzen Law Office to discuss your case with an experienced Minneapolis business tax attorney!