Category Archives: Industrial Law

Virgin adds to VIRGINIC case new groundless litigation against 3 more small startups

MIAMI, Florida, 2020-Apr-29 — /EPR LAW NEWS/ — Sir Richard Branson and his Virgin Group do not trade in… Virgins! Furthermore the word ‘virgin’ is itself a common word and an arbitrary one when used in connection to Virgin’s various business pursuits. For context purposes, here’s some more fun with trademarking Apple.

The word itself, Apple, is a common word and contrary to popular belief it is possible to trademark a common word. This is allowed because the word is arbitrary when used in connection to the manufacturer of iPhones and computers etc. Apple doesn’t sell apples, and neither does the Apple Rubber Co and many others who also own the trademark to the word ‘Apple.’ Multiple companies can own the trademark to the same common word, as long as the products they sell aren’t so similar that they cause confusion for consumers.

In spite of being a globally recognized brand, Virgin is currently pursuing a court case against a small online beauty company named VIRGINIC LLC, attempting to force them to close their store and demanding a hand over of their website domains and social media accounts to Virgin Group.

VIRGINIC LLC is a startup with a visionary desire to keep creating chemical-free, allergy-free, raw face cream formulas, for the direct benefit of an organic-minded female consumer. VIRGINIC brand name is to recall beyond-organic level of purity with no chemical additives and a holistic approach to ethical and all natural sourcing. Their production practices are mindful of protecting the planet through sustainable packaging materials and supporting local farming for ingredients sourcing. Yes, they are lovely people with an ethos that we can all support as it’s hard not to.

As for Virgin, they don’t sell cosmetics currently and neither do they have any intention to do so in future. From our common sense lesson in trademark law this should be an open and shut case, should it not? It seems crystal clear that two companies selling completely different products with names using a common word in an arbitrary manner, no virgins being sold, should both have the right to trademark that word.

Or in this case an invented word similar to that word, it would be like Apple vs Appleic. What’s more in the UK where this case started 2 years ago, a quick search reveals many companies trading under the word ‘Virgin’ offering various services. They’re able to do so for the reasons already stated above.

So why would Virgin target a small startup that doesn’t even use the name “virgin” and doesn’t trade in phones, planes and spaceships but natural face creams? It appears to be nothing more than pure speculative spitefulness by certain lawyers needing to justify their retainer and earn exorbitant fees from their client.

One can almost imagine those lawyers idly examining new trademark applications looking for marks that look somewhat similar to their client’s, no matter how tenuous the connection and salivating over the thought of the juicy fees to follow.

This sort of behavior is no better than the ‘ambulance chaser’ stereotype that looms large in the public’s imagination. In fact, under common law there was historically an offence referred to as ‘barratry’ referring to people who are “overly officious in instigating or encouraging prosecution of groundless litigation” or who bring “repeated or persistent acts of litigation” for the purposes of profit or harassment. Sadly for VIRGINIC, this is no longer an offense in England and Wales. Now the turn is for the US court system to judge on the merits vs manipulative discourse of Virgin’s lawyers justifying their retainers.

Some of the investigative journalists following VIRGINIC case point out that the actual litigation is indeed pointless and harassing in nature. Furthermore it is destructive and punitive. VIRGINIC was already denied the appeal in UK, Virgin got paid £35,000 but since that wasn’t enough, Virgin’s lawyers proceeded to open more lawsuits against VIRGINIC in more countries, including countries where VIRGINIC doesn’t trade.

VIRGINIC refused to commit business suicide and close the shop, just because Virgin said so. Virgin’s lawyers responded by opening personal lawsuits against key employees and managers of VIRGINIC in both US and UK, using an alter ego theory as a legal crutch. In David vs Goliath cases, a big corporation can starve a small company financially to death, break their spirit by forcing them to give up simply because a small company is no longer able to afford piling up legal fees (in this case internationally) – a common tactic of a common bully.

Virgin opened personal lawsuits against shocked and distressed key employees and managers of VIRGINIC calling them in Wyoming court an “alter ego” of VIRGINIC company itself. When VIRGINIC and its management heroically kept refusing to be destroyed, more personal lawsuits were opened in the court of England.

VIRGINIC stated on their website that they felt it was morally wrong to close the business and stop making natural cosmetics for people with allergies that asks for them every day, just because a multi-billion dollar attacker has such a wish. In response to that, Virgin’s lawyers just recently added to the ongoing lawsuit 3 unrelated to VIRGINIC start up companies (in both court of both Wyoming, US and London, England) – companies where VIRGINIC employees used to work based on same “alter ego” legal crutch theory, causing even greater surprise to all spectators and a real financial damage to other small entities that stated no connection to VIRGINIC.

VIRGINIC announced on their social media that directly due to high legal fees causing hardship to its business half of their employees had to be laid off. At the expense of a great personal toll to those individuals and at a great loss of human capital in general, Virgin is further magnifying the damage caused.

If any business case is the personification of vicious, pointless litigation that only serves to enrich overpaid lawyers then this is it. Let us hope that a fairytale ending lies in store for the good folks at VIRGINIC and their spirit of not giving up on their dream, with a deserved comeuppance for the villain of the piece.

Via EPR Network
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Virgin Demands Small Cosmetic Company VIRGINIC Closes and Opens Lawsuits Against its Main Employees

New York, NY, 2020-Apr-23 — /EPR LAW NEWS/ — One of the greatest challenges currently facing the business world is the relentless pursuit of ownership of brand names, logos, typefaces, slogans and even colors! The judiciary are constantly inundated with cases regarding the alleged illegal or improper use of any, or any combination, of these.

But how much of this is a waste of the court’s time? How often is a case being brought simply because an in-house legal beagle needs to justify their salary? How many cases are brought that should simply, in any real world of common sense, never make it out of the split second of foolishness of that very thought’s creator?

Now, the idea that somebody really believed it necessary to protect their idea/investment/invention by receiving confirmation that it was indeed theirs, does, of course, make some sense. Invent the perfect diet in the form of a single daily dose tablet and you should be able to protect that invention and make as much money as the marketplace deems it to be worth until somebody comes up with a way of simply breathing in the perfect diet, and your invention becomes worthless.

And there is, in and of itself, the answer to many of our questions, whether or not we really knew that we had them. Money. Without this fiendish instrument of perceived wealth, where would we be? Would anybody, anywhere ever need to know who invented something of great use to the general populous? Would anybody give you the pats on the back and the “attaboys” that your genius deserved? Well, maybe, and, more likely the case, maybe not.

But would you care? I mean, let’s be honest, if you honestly did all this just for the kudos, you wouldn’t have needed the patent application form in the first place, right? You did it for the money, as is your absolute right to do, and you are simply protecting your investment and the value that your invention has.

Trademarks are, however, a whole different ball game. Take the example of Odysseas Papadimitriou’s company trademark application for his WalletHub brand, a brand that offered a website able to compare various offers such as insurance, loans, mortgages etc. The trademark application for his logo, a white “W” set in a green square, was disputed by, of all things, Major League Baseball! The claim was that the MLB had not one but TWO similar logos that would be infringed upon were the application allowed. One of these is a logo that has not been used in baseball since 1960, the year that the Washington Nationals became the Minnesota Twins whilst the other is a flag that the Chicago Cubs fly in their stadium if they win!

How are either of these “uses” threatened in any way, financial or otherwise, by a website that offers financial documentation organization services? Are WalletHub suddenly getting calls from angry customers, unable to get seats for the game? Are the MLB getting calls asking for financial advice?

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is the key to this whole mess…IS THE CONSUMER CONFUSED ABOUT WHO OR WHAT THEY ARE ENGAGING WITH FOR GOODS OR SERVICES? That is the acid test. That is the reason the law uses to justify its very existence. That is the fly in the inhouse legal beagle’s ointment…Can they PROVE that this brand confusion would exist?

A perfect example of this is the case of Virgin Group PLC v VIRGINIC LLC (you already see where this is going, right?!). VIRGINIC is a young start-up specializing in all-natural, organic beauty products. Not trains. Not planes. Not telephones.

In fact, not any product that is even similar to anything that the Virgin group does or even has ever produced. Clearly there can be no confusion here. But what’s that, I hear you cry? The name is similar? Surely name similarity is not enough. For example, Ford once manufactured a car called the Capri. Now we have the Capri Sun brand all over the world. Is there an issue? Are people buying juice boxes worried that they are made in a car factory? Of course they are not. That would be silly, wouldn’t it?!

VIRGINIC was dismissed by a judge in the UK at the THIRD time of asking, having already beaten Virgin’s trademark infringement case on two previous occasions.The virtue of the freedom of speech that we protect so rigorously, is not an objective virtue any more in the common legal sense, apparently.

For as long as there exists a particular judge able to be swayed by vague and ridiculous arguments, such as those employed by the Virgin lawyers, on a particular day, in a particular place, we will carry on down this absurd legal rabbithole, wasting both the time and money of the taxpayer and of both businesses in question, meanwhile doing nothing for the consumer other than limit their access to the products that they may actually wish to purchase.

And are those not the people that these very laws were enacted to protect in the first place?

Trademark case numbers (UK00003283156)

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Another Frivolous Atrazine Class Action Lawsuit Only Harms U.S. Farmers

After plaintiffs’ attorneys filed a federal lawsuit Monday in the Southern District of Illinois, Kurtis B. Reeg, attorney for defendant Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc., said another frivolous atrazine lawsuit only harms U.S. farmers.

“In these tough economic times, one may wonder why anyone – other than class action lawyers – would seek to destroy what EPA estimates is a $2 billion annual economic benefit to the nation, and all of the jobs that go with it,” Reeg said. “This lawsuit has no merit because we know from EPA-mandated testing that no water systems since 2005 have exceeded the annual average guidance for atrazine. We intend to defend ourselves vigorously.”

Atrazine is a widely-used herbicide in the U.S. and 60 countries around the world to help grow safe, affordable and abundant crops, including corn, sorghum, and sugar cane. EPA re-registered atrazine in 2006, stating it would cause no harm to the general population.

“This suit is no surprise, as the same plaintiffs’ attorneys who have been trying a wasteful case in Madison County, Ill., have been shopping this around for years,” said Reeg. “Just last month, plaintiffs in Illinois voluntarily dismissed numerous damage and liability claims they had made in their case. With that disarray, it appears attorneys are scrambling to another venue in which to waste scarce taxpayer resources with junk science and false allegations for personal gain at the expense of U.S. agriculture.

“Filing in federal court appears to be a mis-step, given the Iberville Parish, La., case which was dismissed by Chief Judge Butler in Mobile, Ala., in 1999. Judge Butler ruled that removing safe and approved levels of atrazine from drinking water was unnecessary and that shifting the costs of such unnecessary removal was wrong. This decision was also upheld on appeal, and we hope the court will rely on this past verdict to guide future decisions.

“Everyone should bear in mind that if a 150-pound adult drank literally thousands of gallons of water with atrazine at three parts-per-billion every day for 70 years, she still would not reach the exposure level at which no adverse impact has been detected in the laboratory.

“We know these communities are strapped for cash, and suing companies to upgrade their decades-old water systems may seem like an easy way to raise money, but it only harms local farmers who rely on these safely-regulated crop protection tools for their livelihood and to help cost-effectively feed a quickly growing consumer public.

“The many statements by farmers and their associations attest to their support for atrazine and its safety in use. They have for half a century. EPA’s atrazine regulation is a model of sound science carefully applied in its mission of protecting all Americans and our environment.

“As a hallmark of good stewardship, my client worked voluntarily with stakeholders for years and since then also with EPA to monitor the water systems where minute detections of atrazine may occasionally occur. Since 2005, no water system has had an annual average atrazine level in its drinking water greater than the EPA standard, which itself carries a 1000-fold safety factor.

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Warren S. Reid – founder of WSR Consulting Group – 20 Years of Pioneering and Leadership As Computer Expert Witnesses in Software Failure Projects and IP Infringement Litigation

Warren S. Reid founded WSR Consulting Group, LLC (WSRcg) in 1988, and since then the firm has grown to 15 expert witnesses, including ex-Big-6 Consulting Firm partners and managers, CIO’s and an IT lawyer. WSRcg team members have served as experts and expert witnesses in computer, software and Internet disputes and turnaround projects, large system/software project failure litigation, and software intellectual property (IP) litigation. They have been recognized and accepted as IT expert witnesses in U.S. arbitration hearings, state and federal courts, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and in Canada, Asia and Europe.

Our prime areas of expertise and main services are acting as consultants in IT Project Turnaround situations, and acting as testifying expert witnesses in the following arenas: computer system failure; software project failure; ERP implementation project/systems failure; internet systems and website failures; software intellectual property disputes; and high-technology valuation situations.

WSR Consulting Group, LLC experts have testified as expert witnesses where their engagement counsel represented: President William Clinton, Her Royal Majesty the Queen of England In right of Canada; Fortune 500 companies; the Malaysian Stock Exchange; renowned hospitals; worldwide restaurant chains and big box retailers; Big 4 consulting firms; ERP customers, vendors and system integrators.

Warren S. Reid, founder and Managing Director of WSR Consulting Group, in his previous career as a management and computer technology consultant and partner/manager at two of the world’s largest consulting firms, was a principal author of one of the first large-scale Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC) methodologies, which evolved into “Method/1” and which is still used internationally by some of the world’s largest companies. He was also one of a small team of consultants that helped to create and launch the Federal Energy Office for President Jimmy Carter in just 75 days, and managed and oversaw the testing and acceptance of California’s Lotto Lottery games in just 100 days.

As quoted by Ed Yourdon, CEO, NODRUOY Inc., February 21, 2007 on Linkedin: “Warren is one of the sharpest and most insightful of all the computer experts and management consultants I’ve known. He’s got a broad range of experience, and doesn’t pull any punches when he advises clients and senior executives how to get themselves out of the technical problems they’ve gotten into, and how to achieve competitive advantage in today’s fast-moving global environment.”

The scope of the systems that Warren S. Reid and/or WSR Consulting Group, LLC systems experts have built and/or testified about cross multiple platforms and industries. WSRcg’s industry specialties include: manufacturing and distribution; health care systems/HIPAA; retail & restaurant service; e-business and web 2.0; gaming and ticketing; automotive; government, military and law enforcement; higher-education; financial services; and software and high-technology.

Speaking about Warren S. Reid’s work as an expert witness, Richard Bernacchi, Esq., one of the pioneers of the computer law industry in the U.S. had this comment: “Extremely thorough and organized, very articulate, and has a very credible courtroom presence”.

Michael D. Scott, Esquire, Law Professor, and author of more than seven books on technology and the law comments: “I have had the pleasure of working with Warren on two major system failure cases. He leaves no stone unturned in getting to the truth of what happened (and more importantly, what should have happened but didn’t). His small but specialized team does better, faster and more thorough work than even the largest consulting firms.”

WSRcg’s IT configuration and platform expertise includes: internet, social and web-based systems; legacy mainframes; 3-tiered host-client-server architectures; mobile and networked PCs and devices; multi-state, multi-level point-of-sale (POS) systems; robotic manufacturing, warehouse and distribution facilities; Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems including SAP, Oracle, PeopleSoft, JDEdwards, Retek, Cerner, IBM, and Microsoft ERP systems; software testing, project management and SDLC tools.

Warren Reid is the author of approximately 100 published business articles (many in peer-reviewed journals), and is quoted in numerous books, newspapers and magazines. He is the co-author with Michael D. Scott, Esquire, of a best-selling book: “The Year 2000 Computer Crisis: Law, Business and Technology”. He has been a keynote speaker and/or featured presenter at many prestigious international summits, congresses and conferences.

WSR Consulting Group, LLC’s Blog 

Via EPR Network
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