Multi-platinum, Grammy Award-winning recording artist Ariana Grande recently filed a lawsuit against the popular fashion retailer Forever 21 alleging its unauthorized use of her likeness, trademarks, and copyright material to create a false perception that Ms. Grande had endorsed Forever 21’s brand and merchandise. Ms. Grande’s complaint seeks $10 million for violating her right to publicity, among other causes of action, in response to Forever 21’s social media campaign which suggests Ms. Grande’s endorsement through a “strikingly similar” model. More on Ariana Grande’s lawsuit here.
It may come naturally to assume that the claims made by Ms. Grande are unique or limited to celebrities. But, whether or not you have networked any A-list celebrities to advertise or endorse your business or products, these issues are worth considering if you do any kind of advertisement for your business. All individuals have the right to control the commercial use of their name, likeness, voice, signature or other personal identifying traits. Any time you would like to use someone’s name or photograph in a commercial setting (advertising, social media posts, or other promotional activities or published content) it is important to consider any necessary steps to prevent inadvertent unauthorized use of that person’s name, picture, likeness, voice, etc. These efforts may include obtaining the person’s consent, a form of endorsement agreement, or disclosures in the advertisement or promotional material, depending on the scenario.
If you currently use social media platforms as a primary means of advertisement, publish advertisements online or in any print media, or are considering any form of promotion of your business and would like to discuss these issues or other concerns please contact SMP and one of our knowledgeable attorneys can assist you.
Please be advised that this article is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice, advertisement, or solicitation of any kind. Please contact an SMP attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal matter.
Smith, McDowell & Powell is proud to announce that Jason Smith, Brad McDowell and Jaclyn Powell have been recognized by Super Lawyers Magazine as top attorneys in Northern California! Jason and Jaclyn have now earned the “Rising Star” distinction for their fifth and fourth consecutive years respectively. Likewise, Brad McDowell has been honored as a “Super Lawyer” for his second year in a row, having previously been recognized as a “Rising Star” in 2013 and 2014.
The annual Super Lawyers list is compiled via a patented multi-phase selection process which includes conducting statewide surveys, analyzing peer reviews and performing independent research. This results in less than 5 percent of lawyers in California being named “Super Lawyers” and less than 2.5 percent as “Rising Stars” (i.e., attorneys who are 40 years-old or younger or have been practicing law for ten years or less). To learn more about the selection process, check out SuperLawyers.com, and be sure to check out the August 2017 issue of Northern California Super Lawyers Magazine to see the full list. Congratulations to all of those, past and present, that have been recognized as top lawyers in their field.
Sacramento Businesses With Big Dreams
The first year of owning a business can often be daunting. From drafting a business plan, to finding a location, navigating all of the steps required to grow a successful business can sometimes deter people from taking the steps to ownership. This is precisely why the attorneys at Smith, McDowell & Powell are proud to once again support the Downtown Sacramento Foundation’s Calling All Dreamer’s Contest wherein one local entrepreneur will win the grand-prize start-up business package worth tens of thousands of dollars. For four years, this competition has fostered incredible growth and opportunity in downtown Sacramento and this year’s competition is proving to be no exception. If you have been waiting for the right opportunity to start your own business and would like to submit a business plan, applications are being accepted now until April 10 on the Downtown Sacramento Foundation’s website. The benefits of supporting locally owned small-business extend far and wide into the entire community and the entire team at SMP is looking forward to see which creative entrepreneur will be the next Downtown Sacramento business owner. To learn about the Downtown Sacramento Foundation and the Calling All Dreams Competition, click here.
SMP Congratulates Newest Associate, Kimberly Van Spronsen
Smith, McDowell & Powell is proud to announce that former Senior Law Clerk, Kimberly Van Spronsen recently passed the California State BAR exam and has joined our growing list of associate attorneys. Kimberly first arrived at SMP in the spring of 2015 as a law clerk while attending McGeorge School of Law where she graduated with great distinction and was admitted to the Roger J. Traynor Honor Society for academic excellence. Since joining SMP, she has assisted in numerous legal matters including business transactions, corporate formations, estate planning, real estate transactions and more. Having grown up on a family-owned almond ranch, Kimberly has a deep appreciation for the efforts of small business owners and hopes to carry on the tradition of hard work and excellence throughout her legal career. The entire team at Smith, McDowell & Powell are excited to see Kimberly’s professional future unfold and have every confidence that she will continue to achieve great things. To read more about Kimberly, check out our website and this week’s Sacramento Business Journal as a person “on the move.”
SMP Announces Veteran Startup Program
November 11 is Veterans Day, and the attorneys at Smith, McDowell & Powell would like to show their appreciation all month long for active and retired military personnel by offering a new Veteran Startup Program. Veterans who enroll in this pro bono initiative during the month of November will receive a free attorney consultation, complimentary drafting and filing of various entity formation documents and general legal guidance to those starting a new business. By enrolling in this program, veterans will have the opportunity to discuss their business plan with the attorneys at Smith, McDowell & Powell and will work together to find a legal entity that fits their particular need. The only costs to program participants are the filing fees, taxes and related non attorney fee costs of forming a business in California.
This initiative is designed to help the men and women of our military achieve their business goals. Moreover, by helping our armed service members recognize entrepreneurial dreams, the entire business community benefits by cultivating small business growth. The attorneys at Smith, McDowell & Powell are looking forward to this opportunity to give back and show their gratitude and appreciation for all of the sacrifices made by our country’s military personnel. If you are interested in participating in and/or learning more about this program, please feel free to call our office at (916) 569-8100 or visit our website.
SMP Shareholder, Jaclyn Powell, channeled her inner Lester Holt and Martha Raddatz, and moderated this year’s West Sacramento Candidate’s Forum at The Barn. Powell has moderated the debates in West Sacramento for the last three election years on behalf of the West Sacramento Chamber of Commerce and this year’s forum did not disappoint. The Chamber had all five candidates running for City Council participate, and four of the five candidates running for Washington Unified School Board participate. Unfortunately, there was no time for rebuttal given the high number of participants (and Jaclyn believes that there would have been some discerning rebuttal had it been allowed), but the re-imagined forum served its purpose and allowed for great insight into each candidate’s platform.
The Forum will be repeated on Channel 20 until Election Day. You can also view the videos here.
Smith, McDowell & Powell would like to welcome our newest associate Mary E. Coombe to the team. Mary brings with her a great deal of experience in business and civil litigation, as well as a strong background in contracts, real estate, construction law and intellectual property. A Northern California native, Mary attended McGeorge School of Law where she received several academic honors such as the Witkin Award in Trademark Law and the Dean’s List. When she is not in the office, she spends her time with her family, cooking, watching football and cheering for the San Francisco Giants. Mary clearly strives for both professional and personal success, as she is an accomplished triathlete having completed both Ironman 70.3 in Austin and Ironman Texas. Smith, McDowell & Powell is proud to be growing the team with such an excellent attorney and accomplished individual and look forward to what the future holds. Check out her profile on our website to learn more about Mary’s accomplishments or click here to see her recent mention in Sacramento Business Journal.
Smith, McDowell & Powell Make Top Lists in Superlawyers Magazine
In the August issue of Super Lawyers Magazine, three familiar names will be appearing on the annual top lists for 2016. Jason Smith, Brad McDowell and Jaclyn Powell were all recognized as outstanding attorneys in their fields of practice, with Jason and Jaclyn earning the “Rising Stars” distinction for the fourth and third consecutive years respectively, and Brad McDowell making the “Super Lawyer” list, having previously been named a “Rising Star” in 2013 and 2014.
These lists are compiled through a patented process which includes conducting statewide surveys, analyzing peer reviews and performing independent research. This results in no more than five percent of attorneys in each state making the Super Lawyers list, and 2.5 percent of attorneys who are 40 years-old or younger or who have been practicing law for less than ten years or less as being eligible for the Rising Star status. All three partners wish to thank all of their peers who nominated them for this recognition and would like to congratulate all of their fellow selectees. To learn more about Super Lawyers and to see which other Northern California attorneys made the list, click here.
National Small Business Week
Every day seems to be a national-day-of-something; from National Puppy Day to National Star Wars Day (may the “fourth” be with you by the way), the trend of designating days of celebration is not only fun, but also brings attention to celebrating important aspects of our national community. This week is National Small Business Week, wherein small businesses across the nation are celebrated as being critical to driving our economy. Clearly, the best way to celebrate a small business is to be a customer, so why not tie in the other days of celebration occurring this week and purchase a gift card for a teacher at one of the locally owned coffee-shops like Insight Coffee Roasters, or a box of delicious Ginger Elizabeth macarons for your mother this Sunday. According to the annual Presidential Proclamation for National Small Business Week, nearly two-thirds of new jobs and more than half of all Americans are employed by or own a small business. Coincidentally, it just so happens that this week also marks the fourth anniversary for Smith, McDowell & Powell and what better way to celebrate than continuing our daily efforts to support other small business owners. So this week, take your shopping list to the small store on the corner, skip the chain-restaurants and opt for Mother’s Day brunch at a small locally owned bistro. You’ll not only be supporting small businesses, but you may find a new favorite location for National Going to Brunch Day. For more ideas on locally-owned businesses, you can check out the list of the semi-finalists for the Calling All Dreamer’s Contest, from custom-made furniture to home-made ice cream, these Sacramento entrepreneurs have any gift or upcoming fun family excursion covered.