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The Legal Blog of Jeremy Peter Green

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About

Jeremy with somebody else's dog.

 

Jeremy Peter Green is a branding attorney and the founder of JPG Legal. He is the attorney of record for over 1,000 U.S. trademark registrations. In 2019, JPG Legal was ranked the #16 law firm in the United States by number of federal trademark applications filed. Green graduated from Northwestern University School of Law on a full scholarship.

 

Green has been profiled on USA Today, CNBC, CNN Money, NPR's Morning Edition, WIRED, MSNBC, the New York Daily News, HLN, CNN Politics, DCist, Vox.com, CNET, Mic.com, NBC News, Refinery29, the Globe and Mail, and several other news sources. He is best known for owning ClintonKaine.com and hosting his comics there during the 2016 election, before selling the domain.

 

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Green is based in DUMBO, Brooklyn in New York City. He formerly served as in-house General Counsel and Webmaster for Teamsters Local 922 in Washington, DC.

 

You may contact him at info@jpglegal.com.

Recession Business Good, Sticky Business Better

Fridge with JPG Legal magnet sticking to it, competitor magnets falling off.
Illustration by me.

The last few months have confirmed something that I’ve thought for years, but could never be totally sure of until now: JPG Legal is a recession business. We’re the budget brand that people buy at the supermarket when their preferred brand starts to seem extravagant. More and more small and mid-sized businesses are digging deeper for savings and ditching their conventional attorneys for our lower fees and transparent pricing.

Last year my goal was to finish 2019 with over $1 million in revenue, a number we hit in mid-December. This year we passed $1 million in mid-July, on track to finish 2020 at about $1.9 million. Less than two years ago this firm was just my solo practice, and now there are about to be six of us: me, three attorneys, a paralegal, and a legal assistant who will start here in August. Following a brief revenue dip in March when the global business ecosystem was adapting to changing conditions, our monthly revenue has continued its upward trend.

Like the budget brands at supermarkets, our quality is not actually any lower than that of the larger, more recognizable brands. Frequently the only difference between a major brand and its less popular competitors is the accrued goodwill associated with the trademarks of the larger company — in other words, the brand identity. This is one reason why trademark rights are so important in the first place, of course. 

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Our March 2020 Weekly Revenue Numbers Show When Businesses Started Freaking out Around the World

Dollar sign Coronavirus molecule illustration. By JPG Legal.
Illustration by me. It’s a metaphor!

It’s been about five or six weeks since the COVID-19 pandemic suddenly started having a large impact on businesses in the U.S. and the rest of the world. JPG Legal’s clientele is about 50% U.S.-based and 50% international, representing virtually every industry, so our revenue serves as a sort of microcosm of the global economy.

Our monthly gross revenue for March ended up at $123,538, down from February’s record monthly revenue of $143,478. But when March is broken down into two halves, the numbers are much scarier.

If you look at the above table I made, you can see things kind of collapsed in mid-March, but then went back up in late March. We were also experimenting with Microsoft Ads during the month, which was spending roughly $3,000 per new client, much higher than we get with Google Ads, so the green part of the graph is artificially smaller than it would be because of the ineffectiveness and poor artificial intelligence of our Microsoft ad campaigns.

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March 2020 Update on JPG Legal

JPG Legal ads pop up every time I look at coronavirus updates in The New York Times. Does this make us ambulance chasers?

Things are good, but also weird here at JPG Legal. We’re busier than we’ve ever been, by far, and we have two new attorneys starting here soon, but they’re not starting until early and mid-April, respectively.

What makes this weird is that I’m not sure if the new attorneys will even be able to come to the office to get oriented if the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to get worse here in New York City. I hesitate even to write about the virus because whatever I write will likely seem like old news in as little as two or three days.

I woke up on Monday, March 9 (two days ago) and noticed that the tone of the news had changed drastically over the weekend regarding coronavirus. Later that day I picked up a few USB headsets and gave the team the option to work from home every day until further notice. I’m still coming in every day because I live within walking distance, but everybody else takes the subway to get here, so it seems best to let them stay put.

Our norm was already to have people come in only three days a week anyway, and we give everybody powerful Macbook Pros, so the transition to full-remote is so minor that I really had no excuse for making people come in. As you can see in the tweet below, my mom is proud of me for letting everybody work from home!

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Here Are the Goods/Services to File for When Trademarking a Band or Musician Name

Illustration by me.

Musician and recording artist names are arguably one of the most complicated topics in trademark law. Just ask the Bernie Sanders campaign.

One of the first trademark applications I ever filed was for a teenager who produced hip hop beats and rapped over them, before I knew what goods/services a musician’s trademark should be registered for. In case you’re new to this field, trademarks must be registered for specific goods and services identifications (“IDs”) that are categorized into 45 classes. I filed for “music composition services” in Class 41, the education and entertainment class.

I then spent the next eight months trying to fix that massive error, ultimately filing a new application after being refused by the USPTO several times. Music composition services means writing songs to be performed by other artists. This is a very difficult service to submit a specimen for. I thought I was finally saved when I found a listing on a beats-making website by my client where he was offering a beat for sale. Even this got rejected because my client wasn’t composing custom music for other artists, he was composing music and then selling it to other artists. 

I finally ended up having to file a new application at my own expense for the correct goods/services IDs, ones that are easier to submit specimens for. Similar issues can arise if you file for music production, music recording, music publishing, music video production, etc. These are all meant to be services performed for recording artists, not by the recording artist, so they should only be filed for if the artist offers these services in that way, and only in combination with goods/services IDs that are easier to provide specimens for (more on those soon).

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Can Flavor Flav Sue The Sanders Campaign For Promoting a “Public Enemy” Performance?

If you’ve followed my Twitter account or heard my interview on NPR’s Morning Edition, you know I’m a huge supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders. Sanders is what happens when a genuine, on-the-ground activist and organizer somehow manages to get real institutional power, without compromising their values. This has probably never happened in modern U.S. politics, and it’s terrifying not only to the very wealthy, but also to the status-quo-dependent subclass of political consultants, lobbyists, lawyers, pundits, pollsters, and politicians whose livelihoods he threatens.

We live in a time when we’re seeing many radical icons who were active between the 50s and the 80s, including Dolores Huerta, John Lewis, and most recently Jello Biafra of Dead Kennedys, soften and become moderate, corporate-leaning Democrats whose politics are to right of the average 30 year-old Democratic voter.

This is why for me and many other leftists, it came as a great relief when we saw the above promotional poster for a Bernie Sanders/Public Enemy concert happening today in California. Public Enemy, perhaps the single most important anti-establishment entity in hip hop, has not sold out their less fortunate contemporaries, nor all of us who entered the workforce around or after the crash of 2008 and generally do not see the Obama administration as a utopian ideal that we need to return to.

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New York’s New Broker Fee Rule: Can You Get Your Broker Fee Back?

Photo of me, on the right, viewing the current JPG Legal office before I signed the lease.

As described in The New York Times, the New York Department of State has just issued a formal guidance declaring that making a tenant pay for a broker’s fee when renting an apartment is illegal. This means that if a landlord hires a broker to help them find a tenant for an apartment, the landlord must pay the broker the fee directly rather than passing on the cost to the tenant. This new rule is a clarification of one of the provisions in the historic tenant protection law passed in June (going into effect upon signing on June 14, 2019) thanks to efforts from the Upstate Downstate Housing Alliance, a coalition of over 70 organizations including New York City Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). This particular provision says that landlords cannot charge prospective tenants fees for applying for an apartment or signing a lease, beyond a $20 application fee. Read the rest of this post »   


Why We Raised Some of Our Fees

Things are going well here at JPG Legal, objectively. We will close out the year at about $1,000,000 in gross revenue, up from $709,000 in 2018 and $227,000 in 2017. Originally just my solo practice until September 2018, JPG Legal is now a team of four that includes me, two associate attorneys, and one paralegal. The firm that started in my basement apartment in Washington, DC now has its own beautiful 1400 square foot loft space in DUMBO, Brooklyn with a view of the Manhattan Bridge.

Office cat Kiké lounging at the office.
Kiké the cat lounging at JPG Legal.

Unfortunately, something is wrong with our business model. The numbers haven’t been adding up. Though the firm has been growing, we haven’t been making a profit. As high as our gross revenue is, the majority of it goes toward government filing fees and advertising costs. On top of that, we’re struggling to keep up with our workload. I don’t believe in making salaried employees, even lawyers, work more than 40 hours a week (ideally 30 a week), yet the number of clients we have is not currently manageable under that standard.

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The New USPTO Rule: What Do Foreign Trademark Applicants Need to Do With Their Existing Trademarks?

What Is The New USPTO Rule?

Earlier this summer, the USPTO announced a new rule requiring that all foreign-domiciled trademark applicants and registrants must be represented by an attorney with a U.S. bar license. This rule applies to any applicant “whose permanent legal residence or principal place of business is outside the United States.”

In addition, all attorneys filing trademarks on behalf of clients must now enter the state in which they’re licensed, their date of bar admission, and their state bar number (if applicable in that state). They must also affirm their good standing as an attorney licensed by a U.S. state bar.

Screenshot from the USPTO TEAS Plus trademark filing form.

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