2012 Year in Review

2012 was a good year, with a variety of professional and personal pursuits.

Professionally, I had many good experiences:

Personally, I had the opportunity to travel to Israel and South Africa in 2012. Both trips are recommended for different reasons. Religious or not, Israel was an opportunity to see the very beginning of humanity, and the religious sites are certainly worth seeing, as well. Attending a safari in South Africa is well worth doing one time in life and Cape Town is one of the most striking cities in the world. No international traveler should be shy about putting either destination on their travel wish list.

News and Notes from Summer 2011

I’ve been staying busy with some interesting cases. Here are a few press clippings that may be of interest:

I feel blessed to work with so many good people on interesting cases like these. If you’re looking to contact me for help on similar cases, you can visit my law firm’s website.

Eric Discusses Consumer Privacy In Trade Journal

I recently commented on consumer privacy issues for a major industry publication. You read more about it on Lexero.com. The article also has a nice discussion of the benefits and limitations of advertisers’ self regulation, and the challenges created by non-standardized data and practices in making self-regulation a reality.

Eric Menhart Quoted in Business Insider

Recently, quite a bit of attention has been paid to sites like pleaserobme.com, which simply republish public Twitter posts of people tweeting about their present locations.  PleaseRobMe.com republishes tweets of people that contain search strings like “left home,” that might be theoretically useful to robbers looking for an empty house.What liability would these sites likely incur if someone were actually robbed? In a word, none.

Follow Me on Twitter @EricMenhart

I’ve finally joined the Twitter bandwagon. I invite you to follow me here. I primarily post about professional issues, such as Internet law and intellectual property law. Posts discuss issues such as copyright, trademarks, and domain names. I also tend to keep on eye on interesting cases, pending legislation and industry happenings.

The CyberLaw Trademark Debate

You may have seen some criticism by others regarding the trademark application for the term “CyberLaw.” While the critics have every right to their opinion, I felt it was important to provide the full story behind the issue, as well as some relevant links to credible third-party coverage, such as this Baltimore Sun article.

CyberLaw PC applied for the trademark “CyberLaw” in December of 2007. Several bloggers criticized the application for being generic or “everyday language.” The firm responded on January 19, 2008 via the blog post “Of CyberLaw and CyberLawg.” That response has remained published since that time.

Simply stated, the firm defended its original application by noting that the application was lawfully filed with the USPTO, along with the appropriate application fee. The firm also noted that the application would have protected only those services that the firm provided. Finally, the firm pointed out that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the authority that makes such determinations, itself has previously found the mark “CyberLaw” to be protectable as recently as 2000 for virtually identical services. The mark was granted to Attorney Jonathan Rosenoer of Greenbrae, California in 1996. Mr. Rosenoer let his protection expire in 2000. These records were free and publicly available from the USPTO.

On February 21, 2008, the Baltimore Sun wrote an article about the matter. The article as it originally appeared in the newspaper is here. I encourage anyone that wants a fact-based, journalistic view of the matter to read it.

The trademark application was eventually modified in an effort to protect the firm’s logo, as opposed to the standard character mark. The firm does not assert any federal trademark rights in the standard character mark “CyberLaw.”

Eric Menhart On Brief in Appellate Win

A recent decision by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals addressed whether a private right of action under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) required a separate act of enabling legislation. Eric Menhart was on the brief for the prevailing appellant. Read the full text of the opinion: Portuguese American Leadership Council of the United States, Inc. v. Investors’ Alert, Inc. No. 04-CV-1187 (D.C. 2008).

The Court found that private causes of action may be brought in the D.C. Superior Court under the Act without the need for enabling legislation.

Eric Menhart Comments on Internet Sales Tax Issues

You may have noticed that the recent economic troubles are leading most folks to tighten their belts and rethink their spending. Many are also considering new sources of income. State and local governments are no different. The question as to whether States can legally collect sales taxes from online transactions is attracting attention, particularly given the hard economic times and the beginning of a new Congress with many new faces.

Eric was recently quoted in two articles addressing the topic. The first, in Forbes.com, was entitled “Web Sales Tax Looms.” FierceCIO also brought the issue to it’s readers attention in Debate Looms for Web Sales Tax.

Eric wrote an extended article entitled Taxing the Internet: Analyzing the States’ Plan to Derive Online Sales Revenue that explores the tax issues that are becoming more salient in the current economic and political environment. Published in 2007 by the Journal of State Taxation, the article is an in depth discussion of the legal and political barriers to states’ interest in universally collecting sales taxes on all types of online transactions.