Category Archives: Constitutional

Billionaire Richard Branson Called a Trademark Bully by the Trademark Law Professors of University of Washington, School of Law

Westborough, MA, 2020-Jul-30 — /EPR LAW NEWS/ — Virgin has targeted to attack over 300 small companies & non-profit charities. Common sense says that the word ‘virgin’ cannot be owned by one individual or organization but Virgin has deep pockets to destroy those who dare to fight for their rights.

“Opposing trademark registrations in unrelated fields is the classic behavior of a trademark bully,” says Mike Atkins, an attorney at Atkins Intellectual Property who teaches trademark law at the University of Washington, School of Law.

That’s why it came as a surprise that Branson decided to send a threatening cease-and-desist letter (where he tells the small start up to either commit a business suicide right away or else Virgin lawyers will destroy it within 30 days) to I Am Not A Virgin, a small eco-friendly denim label, claiming that the company’s name infringes on his copyright, as the Telegraph’s Laura Hubbert reported on the case.

Richard Branson’s lawyers demanded environmentally friendly start up jeans label ‘I Am Not A Virgin’ to cancel their trademark (a trademark they have been lawfully granted and owned for almost 4 years before they received the threat letter from Branson – reports Ms. HUBBERT in her article.

“I guess I could rename my jeans Not Made By Richard Branson” – comments sarcastically the founder of the brand. Branson also demanded the small business owner cease to sell current stock of the jeans and removes them from the stores which for a small business is a financial suicide and a loss of all start up investment costs essentially leading to the end of a business.

“Common sense says that the word ‘virgin’ cannot be owned by one individual or organization. In other words, it’s stupid to claim a colour of your own, let say a word. Branson, who’s also well known for his support of environmental causes, apparently has failed to see that” – says Anderson Antunes in his Forbes article about Virgin’s abuse on small entrepreneurs.

Attorney at law, Widerman Malek, summaries in his comments: “If Richard Branson has his way, it might be. ” He adds: “Although sometimes considered a bully in the trademark office, they remain unapologetic for their stance.”

According to multiple news reports, in the past several years, the Virgin group has targeted over 300 companies who used the word Virgin in their name, URL or marketing slogan. Unfortunately, many of these 300 companies are small businesses who do not have the resources to fight back against a multi-billion dollar company with hundreds or even thousands of lawyers on their retainer. These small businesses almost always settle simply because they cannot afford to fight.

Widerman Malek brings up some of the companies Virgin attacked:

  • Virgin Vapors – a small vapor company located in California whose owner currently refuses to change its name despite being threatened by Virgin.
  • The owners of domain names virginthreads.com, virginpublishing.com, virginstar.net, and virgincigar.com. The Virgin group alleges cyberpiracy for any company using the name virgin in their domain, even if it is not their business name.
  • Author Cristina Crayn, who named one of her published books, “Tales from the Virgin Vault.”
  • Virgin Valley Cab – a cab company in the Virgin Valley geographic location of Northwest Arizona, who recently came to an agreement with conglomerate to stop using the name.
  • Las Virgenes United Educational Foundation – a nonprofit organization in the Las Virgenes School District. The Virgin Group attempted to block the trademark application. Evidently, any virgin will meet their criteria – no matter which language it’s in and if destroying charities for children is to take place.
  • I Am Not A Virgin – a New York clothing company which specializes in creating and selling denim products.
  • Virgin Air, a small airline in the American Virgin Islands, which no longer exists under this name due to Virgin’s lawsuits.
  • CBS Studios, who may be opposed by the Virgin Group in an attempt to trademark the name Jane the Virgin, which they will use as a sitcom name.
  • Last year, the Virgin group attempted to stop Valle Grande from trademarking a phrase that contained the words “virgin olive oil”, using the argument that Valle Grande currently only sells vinegar.
  • In 2004, the conglomerate sued a tiny apparel retailer called Virgin Threads in federal court in New York; the retailer dropped the name a year later as they could not afford to battle with Virgin any longer.
  • VIRGINIC – Purity Perfected – small cosmetics brand, selling “beyond organic”, handcrafted, allergy-free face creams in small batches. Virgin has been suing them with malicious, aggressive litigations, on the ongoing basis from 2018-2020 in multiple countries to starve them financially to business death, as Virgin did with other start ups. Interestingly, Virgin abandoned selling cosmetics years ago making public statements on their own website that they have no intention to sell beauty products. As of July 2020, VIRGINIC still refuses to be bullied and to give up their name.

Via EPR Network
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Virgin’s unethical business practices against small start ups and non-profit foundations

Louisville, Kentucky, 2020-Jul-16 — /EPR LAW NEWS/ — When it comes to big business versus small business, the deck is, and always has been, heavily stacked in favor of the giants, making sure it stays that way. Yes, there will always be David and Goliath stories held up as the reason for hope in these battles, but reality dictates that they are almost insurmountable obstacles in the path of a small entrepreneur.

There is, however, a more insidious and corruptive side to the competition that few, if any, really see or understand at all. The legal teams.

Companies like The Virgin Group and Sir Richard Branson retain the type of law firms that see no ethical issue in destroying anything and anyone on their way, no matter the cost, the merits and the human lives and dreams destroyed along the way.

Take billing, for example. Virgin Enterprises uses Norvell IP and A. A. Thornton, type of companies that sees fit to charge by the half hour for anything that they do, including a single phone call, running up bills of around $300 per call. Yes, you read that correctly…$300 PER CALL! Equally absurdly, they charge the same to write a letter, to attend a meeting or to send an email!

 

Ok, so Virgin and Sir Richard is worth billions, they can afford these costs and who cares? It’s their choice and their wallet, right?

Well, no. They make their pray pay for it.

The thing is, as the relentless (and oftentimes frivolous) stream of trademark infringement lawsuits are filed across the globe, those costs are, almost exclusively borne not by Virgin, but by the small business that they are making their claim against.

Take the case of Wyoming start-up, VIRGINIC LLC. Virgin decided, as they have done on so many occasions in the past, that they were unhappy with the UK Intellectual Property Office awarding VIRGINIC LLC their own brand trademark “VIRGINIC”. For a little context, let’s not forget that this is the same company that sued a Virgin Olive Oil producer, the TV show “Jane The Virgin” and even a Non-profit Educational Foundation, “Las Virgenes” for children, staffed entirely by volunteer parents! If you’re like most people, this alone can leave anyone speechless. Clearly, Virgin is not afraid to throw their litigation budget around even against non-profit children care foundations.

So, Virgin took umbrage to the idea of a company VIRGINIC LLC, regardless of the fact that the UKIPO had already awarded their trademark for their name to them. Virgin attacked and yet again the UK courts decided that there was no case to be heard and VIRGINIC should keep their own trademark.

Virgin lost the case, and the subsequent appeal, with VIRGINIC being awarded the princely sum of £300 in costs, and that, in any sensible judicial process, should have been that. However, Virgin’s lawyers managed to get the UK High Court of Appeals to agree to review the appeal of the case which, upon doing so, intrestingly awarded in favor of Virgin this third time around.

And here is the fun part; When VIRGINIC, a small “David” went up against the behemoth “Goliath” of Virgin and managed to not only show that common sense is still alive and well in some legal systems, but managed to do it on a shoestring budget, whilst a mammoth task and stupendous result given the odds, it appears that the ultimately necessary penny-pinching that all start-ups are likely to be forced to adopt, is the largest chink in their armor.

The reason for this is simple: Virgin lose and the judge awards costs in the order of £300 to the start-up. £300 which Virgin never actually saw fit to pay, regardless of the fact that they spend so much time in courtrooms arguing that their rights are being infringed upon and crowing for justice. This in itself is a pointer towards where this all goes wrong. You see, they cry foul and plead for justice as if the courtroom is a sacred place where all shall find their truth. In reality, when that truth is contrary to their opinion, they simply disregard the orders of the court and find somebody else to cry to.

Now, what happens when, at the third time of asking, they manage to find themselves a “friendly” judge? Well, their costs are awarded against VIRGINIC in the sum of…

Ready for this…?

£33,000 + £10,000!
With no right to appeal any further, conveniently.

So, Virgin “loses” and the bill is £300. I would guess that the lawyers charging $300 to make a phone call would probably be happy to pay that off themselves with the cash that they dropped down the sofa last night. However, when VIRGINIC loses, all those cups of coffee that the world’s most expensive secretaries were making suddenly add up to a sum of £43,000, so exorbitant, so utterly defiant of anything even approaching a reality that is in any way sustainable, that all suddenly becomes so very clear.

Virgin and, more importantly, Virgin’s lawyers LOVE finding random reasons to drag volnurable, small businesses (and apparently non-profit foundations too) into a courtroom because it is a no-loss situation for them. They literally don’t even bother paying the measly costs generated if they lose (Virgin pays) whilst running up such absurd bills themselves that, if they win, the small business is basically financially crippled to the point where it either ceases to exist or exists only for the purposes of paying off the legal bills. Small educational foundations like “Las Virgenes” for children, staffed entirely by volunteer parents are a no match with this malice legal practice backed by deep pockets of Virgin.

Is there a happy ending here? VIRGINIC is well off its knees trying to write one as we speak. Keep your fingers crossed and maybe the Wyoming case will prove more uncorrupted justice system in the US than the UK one.

Via EPR Network
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Is There A More Humane Way To Kill?

Does strangulation offer a better way to kill those on death row awaiting execution? This is the question being asked by Lawrence Gist, a professor and human rights attorney with the International Humanitarian Hypoxia Project. Following in the steps of professor Guillotin, who in 1789 proposed a “mechanism” that “beheads painlessly,” Gist proposes utilizing the latest research to ensure humane executions, not by beheading, but medical strangulation. Gist said that the proposed execution protocol is humane, and unlike other execution methods currently being used in the United States, this protocol maintains the viability of the corpse’s organs and tissue. The bodily remains of those executed, says Gist, “may then be used to offer hope to some of the estimated 55,000 people currently waiting for life-saving transplants.”

gistprobono

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld the constitutionality of lethal injection, the most common method used for executions by the federal government and 36 states. However, it has been documented that the three-drug lethal injection protocol is frequently negligently administered, causing extreme pain and suffering. In Gist’s pending law review article, he advocates giving those on death row the option to choose between the potentially painful lethal injection protocol, or this new protocol which offers a humane and pain-free execution.

Gist notes that the “protocol does not involve the type of slow painful strangulation most people imagine when thinking of strangulation – in fact the protocol is far more humane than any previous method designed to end human life.” Hypoxia it’s called, when someone is deprived of the oxygen required to sustain life. So how can it be humane to deprive someone of oxygen to the point of death? Gist answers this question by stating the execution protocol he is advocating “requires inmate to be executed wear a standard medical face mask and breath in pure nitrogen, devoid of any oxygen. Nitrogen is an odorless and tasteless gas which, without oxygen, will lead to asphyxiation without any feeling of suffocation.” Gist said that the new protocol “is inexpensive and could be easily preformed by prison guards without the need for a physician’s supervision (other than to pronounce death), an allegedly violation of the Hippocratic oath to ‘do no harm.’”

While Gist is an opponent of capitol punishment, he believes that “pending it’s abolition, hypoxia is the perfect method for conducting humane executions.” Gist went on to say that “because the corpse of an asphyxiated prisoner does not contain toxins left over from lethal injection or the gas chamber, nor physical trauma from electrocution, the bodily remains are fully available for life-saving organ and tissue donation.” It would be highly unethical to use organs and tissue without voluntary consent, but Gist stated that his research suggest many of those awaiting execution would like the opportunity to redress a little of the harm they have done to society and give some meaning to their death by donating the gift of life to those awaiting life-saving transplants. Gist’s proposal would allow death row inmates the option to choose execution by lethal injection or hypoxia – and if hypoxia is chosen, giving them the additional option of making their body available for organ and tissue donation.

The International Humanitarian Hypoxia Project, founded by Gist, is calling on governors across the country to grant a temporary moratorium on all executions, allowing time for debate and legislative consideration of this new execution protocol. Of particular interest to Gist is the upcoming July 16th execution of Kennith Mosley, the 201st person scheduled to be executed during the tenure of Texas Governor Rick Perry. Gist said during a recent interview that he doubts Governor Perry will be persuaded to grant Mosley a stay. The political reality, Gist said, is that “lethal injection has been held to be constitutional, and most politicians won’t consider a new execution protocol, even if better, if subject to a new round of legal challenges.” However, Gist remains optimistic, “groups on both the left and right share a common value, the respect for human life, and once the public becomes aware of this protocol, and it’s incidental benefits, I believe previously divergent groups will join efforts and petition their state leaders for an immediate temporary moratorium on executions.” Gist said that “there is really nothing to lose, and much to gain – a humane execution protocol offering life to the terminally ill – it’s really a classic win-win proposal.”

Contact Details: Lawrence J. Gist II
Attorney at Law 4105 Exultant Drive
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
310-544-3137 or lgist@gistprobono.org

International Humanitarian Hypoxia Project at

International Humanitarian Law Pro Bono Project at www.gistprobono.org

lgist@gistprobono.org or lgist@msmc.la.edu

Via EPR Network
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