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Branding and business strategy from a trademark attorney and founder.

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About the Jewish Lawyer

Jeremy with somebody else's dog.

 

Jeremy Peter Green Eche is a branding attorney and the founder of JPG Legal and Communer. He is the attorney of record for over 2,500 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. Eche graduated from Northwestern University School of Law on a full scholarship. Thomson Reuters selected him as a Super Lawyers Rising Star in Intellectual Property for 2021.

 

Eche has been profiled on USA Today, CNBC, CNN Money, NPR's Morning Edition, WIRED, MSNBC, Forbes, the New York Daily News, HLN, CNN Politics, DCist, ABA Journal, Vox.com, CNET, Mic.com, NBC News, Refinery29, the Globe and Mail, and several other news sources. Before becoming a trademark attorney, he was known for owning ClintonKaine.com and hosting his comics there during the 2016 election, before selling the domain.

 

Jeremy's Instagram

Jeremy's Twitter

 

Eche is based in Brooklyn in New York City. He formerly served as in-house General Counsel for Teamsters Local 922 in Washington, DC. He is married to Stephanie Eche, an artist and creative consultant.

 

You can contact him at info@jpglegal.com.

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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Trademarking a Band or Musician Name: Goods/Services IDs

Cartoon musical staff with trademark symbols as notes.
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?

Stylized drawing of Bernie Sanders by Jeremy Peter Green.
Drawing of Bernie Sanders by me.

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 below 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 Quíque lounging at the office.
Quíque 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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How Early Should You Form Your LLC?

Informal Beginnings

When people ask me how long I’ve been running JPG Legal, it’s hard to decide what to say. My first client hired me for trademark work in the summer of 2015, back when I was just Jeremy Peter Green. As I started picking up more clients, I put up a website in mid-2016, filed a trademark application, and registered “JPG Legal” as a DBA (Doing-Business-As, similar to a trade name or fictitious name in other states).

2016 JPG Legal website screenshot
The JPG Legal website on September 28, 2016.
I continued as a sole proprietor for a while. JPG Legal was my day job for a few months, then my side gig for the first half of 2017, and then my day job again after my first Google Ad campaign took off. I wasn’t being lazy or cheap, really; I just knew that as an individual business owner and as an attorney, the difference between being a sole proprietor and being a single-member LLC was negligible, in terms of liability. Attorneys with LLCs are still individually responsible for any ethical issues, and my general impression was that the layer of protection provided by a single member LLC to its owner is pretty thin compared to that of a corporation or an LLC with multiple members.

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Amazon’s Project Zero Means Getting a Trademark Is Now More Important Than Ever


Amazon announced a new program yesterday ambitiously named Project Zero, with the stated goal of “empower[ing] brands to help drive counterfeits to zero.”

Counterfeiters and Listing Hijackers

Counterfeit products and the associated act of “listing hijacking” — where a counterfeiter lists what they claim to be the owner’s product for a lower price so the counterfeiter shows up as the default seller on the owner’s own product listing — have been a major issue for Amazon over the past couple of years. Roughly half of my trademark clients are Amazon sellers, many of whom only initiate the trademark process after they’ve found their listings hijacked.

Previous Solution: Amazon Brand Registry

Until now, Amazon’s main method for dealing with these counterfeiters has been the Amazon Brand Registry, Amazon’s program that gives sellers enhanced branding options including better listing customization as well as the ability to report hijackers, counterfeiters, and other people infringing on the seller’s branding. The only requirement for membership is a registered trademark.
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