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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 an entrepreneurship attorney who helps businesses protect and expand their brands. Green handled 770 new federal trademark applications in 2018, making him the 10th most prolific trademark attorney in the United States. 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 "Hillary Potter" fan fiction 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.

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.

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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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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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