Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC

Danbury Legal Blog

Netflix faces trademark suit involving popular thriller

Connecticut fans of the popular Netflix thriller "Black Mirror: Bandersnatch" may not have given much thought to references made to the "Choose Your Own Adventure" book series. However, the publisher of those books has certainly taken notice of the reference, which is why they have filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against the online streaming and DVD distribution company. In the film, the thriller's protagonist is attempting to adapt a fictional "Choose Your Own Adventure" book into a video game.

Trademarks are at the center of this case, specifically the one the book's publisher has for the title "Choose Your Own Adventure." The publisher believes that the film's "dark and, at times, disturbing content" reflects poorly on the image associated with the book series. The publisher further contends that the use of the book series' name may hurt book sales and affect their ability to secure licensing deals in the future.

The characteristics that make wills and trusts different

Connecticut residents could choose to use a will or a trust as part of their estate plan. While either document can be effective in meeting a person's estate planning needs, there are many differences between the two. For example, a will needs to be filed with the court having jurisdiction and is only effective after a person dies. Furthermore, assets that are transferred through a will need to go through the probate process.

A trust is a separate entity that is overseen by a trustee. If a person has a revocable living trust, he or she can be the grantor, beneficiary and trustee at the same time. A trust will not need to be recorded, and the only people who will be privy to its details are the trustee and trust beneficiaries.

Is it time to sell your successful business?

When you first started your Connecticut business, you may have had many nights where you stayed up late in an effort to complete tasks or worrying that your venture was not going to make it. Now, years have passed, and you have grown your business into a successful enterprise.

Though you feel proud of your company, you may also feel that the time has come to sell the business. You may have reached an age where you wish to retire, or you may simply feel ready to pass your business on to someone else while you start a new adventure. Whatever the reason, you need to make sure that selling your company is the right decision.

Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts in trademark battle

Scouting veterans in Connecticut may be troubled to learn that two classic organizations beloved by many are embroiled in an intellectual property dispute. The Girl Scouts of the USA filed a lawsuit against the Boy Scouts of America, after the Boy Scouts began using the trademarks "Scouts" and "Scouting" for activities for girls. The case was filed in November in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. In their complaint, the Girl Scouts allege that the Boy Scouts' use of these terms for girls' programming has caused confusion among families looking to participate in Girl Scouting.

The lawsuit emerged from a background of a move toward greater inclusion in the Boy Scouts organization. In October 2017, the BSA announced that it would now welcome girls to join its programs, reversing 100 years of single-sex activities. It came after other changes to Boy Scout programs, including decisions to admit LGBT scouts and scout leaders. However, the Girl Scouts organization saw this move as a threat to its existence. The organization's national president said that the action "undercut" Girl Scouting. Anger increased after the Boy Scouts launched an advertising campaign specifically targeted toward girls and a rebranding as "Scouts BSA".

Changing an estate plan after divorce

One step people in Connecticut who get a divorce should not neglect is making changes to their estate plans. In addition to changing his or her will so an ex-spouse no longer inherits his or her assets, a person might also want to make sure that his or her ex no longer has a role, such as executor, in the estate plan. Any family members of the ex-spouse might also be removed from the plan.

It may be necessary for other people to be appointed for certain roles. This could include powers of attorney for finance and health care. Medical professionals may naturally look to a spouse to make health care decisions, so appointing a loved on to take on this role can be important. Beneficiary designations for such assets as life insurance policies might also need to be changed. Otherwise, years after a divorce, an ex-spouse could inherit these assets.

Important information about special needs trusts

Parents of special needs children have a wide range of reasons for wanting to set up a trust even though their assets fall well below the exemption limit for the estate tax. These reasons include guardianship and the questionable availability of public resources. Complications can also arise when it comes to the income cap for recipients of Medicaid and Security Supplemental Income. Thankfully, there is a special type of trust for this situation: the Special Needs Trust (SNT).

An SNT provides an ongoing financial resource for special needs children without the worry of ruining eligibility for government assistance. These trusts can fund a variety of expenses, including medical care, entertainment, food, housing, pet care, and other costs related to quality of life. The money within these trusts is shielded away from landlords, credit card companies, and other types of lenders.

How parents can help their children with estate planning

Some parents and their adult children in Connecticut may encounter some friction over estate planning. Many baby boomers feel that their children need to create estate plans. However, these children may feel too overwhelmed by debt and other issues to address this. For some families, the solution is for the parents to pay for the estate plan. In such situations, most adult children will follow through on the process.

However, it is necessary for parents to be careful and respectful in how they raise estate planning issues. Family dynamics can be tricky. That's why parents may want to consider raising the issue when a family member dies or a child is born. A family meeting that includes a third party can also be helpful, but children may object if they feel their parents are trying to push them into something. Parents must choose their time and approach carefully.

When to update an estate plan

Connecticut readers know that it's important to establish an estate plan. However, having a plan isn't enough. It will need to be occasionally reviewed and updated to make sure it still meets an individual's needs.

According to legal experts, any estate plan that is three or more years old should be reviewed. A plan should be also updated whenever there is a change in tax law or other laws that could impact an estate, including laws on advance medical directives or powers of attorney. There are also certain life events or changes in circumstances that could cause an estate plan to need revision.

Angel investors offer entrepreneurs more than money

Venture capitalists are often among the first to be contacted when entrepreneurs in Connecticut and around the country are unable to secure startup financing from other sources, but a new way to get the money they need is rapidly gaining in popularity. Angel investors provide business advice and emotional support as well as much-needed cash, and they will generally be more forgiving and less likely to pursue legal claims when the commercial ventures they back fail to meet expectations.

Angel investors are often friends, relatives or close acquaintances who are investing in people they care about and not backing a business plan or idea. They view their investments as a vote of confidence that could be repaid handsomely if the business venture is successful. Arrangements made with angel investors are generally less rigid than they are with venture capitalists, but both types generally obtain a stake in the venture.

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