Nashville Business Law Blog

Intellectual property matters: The provisional patent

Nashville inventors spend a considerable amount of time perfecting their prototypes. Once they reach a certain point, they may require the assistance of third parties, but want to protect their intellectual property rights. Whether the issue is money or the need to perfect an invention first, a provisional patent could provide some form of protection during this process.

Sometimes, the key is to get there first, and this can be especially true when it comes to patents. Filing for a provisional patent could secure a filing date for when the inventor is ready to go through the nonprovisional filing process. Specifically, if the patent application is filed within a year of the provisional patent application, he or she receives the benefit of the PPA date.

Protecting intellectual property in the video game world

Nashville gamers will more than likely recognize the name Riot Games. Part of why they recognize the name is due to its trademark, which the company says is under fire from an esports group called Riot Squad. Riot Games decided to take steps to protect its intellectual property by filing a trademark infringement claim against Riot Squad. 

The crux of the lawsuit centers around the use of the word "riot" in the esports group's name. Participants compete in events relating to video games. It appears that Riot Games believes it should have exclusive use of the word riot, which is integral to its branding. However, when looking at the two logos for the companies, there is no blatantly apparent similarity other than the use of that word.

The environmental law that governs gas stations

Some Nashville small business owners decide that owning a gas station, often with an attached convenience store, is the way to go. Most of these businesses are franchises, which provide a name, products and other things that make opening such a business a bit easier. However, franchisees have many issues to be aware of and deal with regardless of the franchisor. A gas station, or gasoline dispensing facility, must comply with environmental law regardless of whether it comes from the federal, state or local government.

Here in Tennessee, Nashville gas station owners must comply with rules from Underground Storage Tanks and Air Pollution Control. Some will also need to comply with Division of Remediation or Division of Water Resources permits as well. It depends on the type of work done at a particular facility.

Renegotiation of the contract of FOX and Dish takes a dark turn

Many of the agreements between Tennessee businesses have an expiration date in order to allow the parties to either continue or leave the relationship. If the parties wish to continue their contractual relationship, the renegotiation of the contract will commence. However, if the parties have trouble reaching an agreement, one party may stop providing goods or services for a variety of reasons.

For instance, FOX and Dish Network TV are currently in a dispute regarding "carriage" rates that has resulted in a blackout of the stations in question. A blackout means that Dish Network TV customers will not have access to the stations. During this Time, FOX could lose advertising and other revenues it ordinarily receives.

How can you rezone land or a building for your business?

Cities like Nashville change and evolve. Areas that were once residential could become business districts, while outlying former agricultural areas may become residential areas. It is also possible for a company to buy up multiple adjacent residential plots in the hope of putting in a storefront or possibly an industrial facility.

If you want to use a property your company recently acquired for a purpose other than what it's zoning currently allows, you will need to make a rezoning request before you go any further with your business plans. Rezoning involves submitting a formal application that details your building and business plans to the Nashville Planning Commission.

Will your company's contracts stand up to court scrutiny?

It would be difficult for a Nashville company to be successful without entering into any agreements with others. Those contracts are supposed to protect the business in case the other party fails to live up to its end of the bargain. The problem is that if not properly drafted and executed, they may not live up to the scrutiny of the court when you need them to.

The best time to gain protection from a contract is during negotiations. You can work to make sure that the contract addresses your interests and rights. If a dispute arises between you and the other party, the first place the court will look is to your contract, and if it doesn't measure up, you may have no legal recourse.

Tennessee helps businesses comply with environmental law

Nearly every state has green initiatives designed to keep the air and water clean while protecting their residents. Tennessee is no exception. The state's Green Star Partnership helps businesses who want to do more than just comply with environmental law.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation facilitates this program. Manufacturers who contribute to and commit to the sustainability of their operations receive recognition from the partnership. In return for those efforts, the Office of Policy and Sustainable Practices promotes these companies through social media, webinars, internet blogs and other sources. Companies can put the partnership's logo on their websites, engage in networking and receive educational opportunities.

Certain business law procedures are required to close a business

When a Nashville small business wants to close its doors, odds are the owner will not be able to simply walk away. Business law requires certain procedures in order to legally close and dissolve a business. These steps protect everyone involved, including the business owner.

Limited liability companies, corporations and partnerships operating with a written agreement should first look to their organizational documents for dissolving the business. In the absence of those documents, you may need to look to Tennessee law for the dissolution process. Articles of Dissolution may also need to be filed with the state. Sole proprietorships will not have these requirements, but may need to take other steps.

Be careful of divulging intellectual property in negotiations

Tennessee residents would be hard pressed to find someone even slightly familiar with the internet who does not know about Google. To say that what began as a humble search engine grew into one of the largest names in the tech industry would be an understatement. However, that does not give the company the right to infringe on another business's intellectual property rights for its own gain. 

A company called Impact Engine, Inc. is saying that Google did just that when it invited the company to sit down and negotiate an agreement for the use of some of the technology company's products. Impact says that the search engine giant invited it to sit down and discuss the use of its intellectual property. Google required a demonstration of the technology in question, and Impact obliged.

Consider these details when choosing a business partner

If you decide that a partnership is the most appropriate business formation, it's likely that you already have a partner in mind. However, before you form your business and get started, there are several important details to consider.

The work that you put in up front will help protect you against making a bad decision that will impact you and your business down the road.

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