Chipman Mazzucco Emerson LLC

Danbury Legal Blog

Protecting innovation through trade secrets

For many entrepreneurs with tech start-ups in Connecticut, intellectual property may be critical to the future of their businesses. Proprietary details, methodologies for creating products and even internal practices of the company could all be considered trade secrets, particularly if this information is not available to the public. When people think of trade secrets, they may think of famous secret recipes; however, trade secrets have a significant amount of modern relevance for people involved in innovative startups and programming initiatives.

Trade secret holders can take action to protect their intellectual property from potential misappropriation. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act defines a trade secret as information that derives economic value from the fact that it is not known or available to others. It can include formulas, algorithms, devices and techniques, among other types of information. It applies specifically to material that a company seeks to keep secret and undisclosed. Unlike copyrights, patents and other forms of intellectual property, trade secret protection does not expire. As they are not registered with the government, there are no fees due in order to protect those rights.

Is your parent a victim of financial abuse?

As your parent grows older, you may feel concern about his or her health and wellbeing, especially if your loved one lives alone. Since you work or have other obligations to tend to, you may not be able to offer your parent the time and attention you would like to. This is why you may have felt relief when a family member or friend stepped in to help your parent.

Now, however, you are feeling less grateful and more suspicious of the person who has taken a sudden interest in your loved one. If you worry that your parent may become the victim of financial abuse, you would be wise to know how to recognize the signs and what you can do to protect your loved one.

Irrevocable trusts

Many people in Connecticut use irrevocable trusts as an estate planning tool. It is important to understand how an irrevocable trust works since the grantor of any assets in an irrevocable trust loses control of them once they are in placed in the trust.

Trust documents are interpreted according to applicable state law. If a creditor or spouse in a divorce wants to take assets from a trust, a court will look at whether or not a beneficiary has control over the assets. If the beneficiary cannot control the assets, they cannot be reached by creditors or a spouse in a divorce.

USPTO warns of trademark scheme

Connecticut residents who have trademarks might want to watch their inboxes for emails from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. The USPTO sent an email out on Oct. 19 to warn about a fraud scheme in which thieves have been trying to hijack trademark files.

According to the USPTO, the thieves have made unauthorized changes on the files of active registrations and applications so that third parties can use the trademarks on their own products. When changes are made to an application or registration, the USPTO automatically sends an email notifying the registrant or applicant of the change.

Reasons to review trusts for effectiveness

Some estate owners in Connecticut may find that their trusts do not fulfill their intentions. This could be because those intentions have changed or the documents were not correctly set up in the first place. For example, a trust might be set up incorrectly if the attorney did not understand the family's wishes. In other cases, a trust is written in a way that's confusing and does not effectively convey its purpose. For these reasons, people may want to review any trusts they have and make sure they do what they were created to do.

Some trusts may no longer be effective because they were created with fairly narrow parameters and it isn't possible for them to accommodate changes. Others could have been created when tax laws or other laws relating to estate planning were different. In the present, there may be better solutions.

Getting prepared for a successful acquisition

When Connecticut companies think about how to grow and maximize profits, one of the most common and advantageous ways may be through mergers and acquisitions. By buying other businesses, a company can expand its market and intellectual property in order to enhance its value and profit-making opportunities. When going through a merger, business owners or executives may have to think through and negotiate extensive changes in order to integrate another business in a successful manner. Bringing two companies together successfully can help to eliminate redundancy, and it can be important to avoid bureaucracy and work for full integration as quickly as possible.

Mergers and acquisitions involve several steps that lead to a successful transaction. The first stage of a merger is due diligence; during this time, a business investigates in order to determine a potential target's value. This can include evaluating their technology, assets and intellectual property. By conducting a thorough due diligence review, companies can help to avoid making a bad deal. After an offer has been made, the next stage involves coming to an agreement. The agreement can go far beyond the sale price of a business to management and personnel decisions.

How is a prescriptive easement created and corroborated?

If you are looking to purchase a piece of property, it can be disconcerting to realize that another party uses a portion of that property, usually an adjoining land owner, without the permission of the seller. You may ask the other party to cease and desist using the property, but under the right circumstances, the other party does not have to do so.

That's right. Another party may have the right to use a portion of the property you intend to purchase without your consent and without a valid easement in place. It's a legal theory, the origins of which trace back to well before the year 1275 under common law. In fact, such prescriptive easements once used the standard of the Norman conquest of 1066 as a guideline forĀ how far back the use of the property could go in order to grant such an easement.

Timeshares and estate planning

Timeshares are a popular way for Connecticut residents to enjoy their favorite vacation destinations. However, they often do require fees for as long they're in ownership. That's why some timeshare owners worry that their heirs will eventually have to continue paying timeshare fees.

Trusts are one way to make sure heirs are free to choose whether to inherit a timeshare or sell it. However, financial experts say that a trust is not necessary to avoid passing on individual liability to heirs.

Avoiding family disputes when writing a will

Most people planning to have a will drawn up in Connecticut hope it will make things easier for loved ones left behind. But what might look good on paper could turn out to be a source of contention, resentment, legal wrangling, and bitter feuds between heirs. This sometimes happens when there's not enough time, effort, and thought put into making important decisions during the process of preparing a will and making estate plans.

It's common for people to choose executors based on family hierarchy (e.g., oldest sibling) or personal relationships (e.g., spouse, good friend). However, such individuals may not have the desire or skills necessary to take on the responsibilities that go along with this position, which is why it's recommended that a responsible, competent, ethical individual be named. Another option with estate planning is to appoint a corporate trustee or a professional fiduciary as executor.

Unrecorded deeds obviated by transfer on death deeds

People in Connecticut who want to transfer their homes to heirs have sometimes in the past made use of an unrecorded deed. The grantor signs the deed and gives it to the intended person, not to be recorded until after the death of the grantor. It may have been a useful estate planning device, but with the advent of transfer-on-death deeds, it makes little sense to use an unrecorded deed in most cases.

Among the potential problems with an unrecorded deed are that the document may be lost or the property encumbered prior to recording. If a signed deed is lost, misplaced or stolen prior to recording, it can cause expensive problems and confusion for the people involved. If the grantor has creditors, they may seek to attach the property in pursuit of a debt, and the recipient of the unrecorded deed may not be able to secure a clear title.

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