Welcome to the DelVecchio & Stadler Blog

Introducing The Pilates Loft – Our Next Spotlight Client!

Your business is called The Pilates Loft – what does this entail?

We teach Mat & equipment Pilates classes, as well as private lessons.  The Pilates loft has two locations: one in Allentown and one in North Buffalo.  Including myself, there are three teachers on staff.

How did you come up with the idea?

As a dancer, I was exposed to many Mat Pilates exercises without really knowing what they were.  Then, a friend of mine, Patty Farkus-Sprague, went through the certification to become a teacher, and I started to really understand the exercise vocabulary and principles of this method.  As Patty went through the training, I was lucky enough to be an occasional “practice body” for her.  I decided to follow her lead after my daughter was born; I knew I wouldn’t want to still be teaching ballet when my daughter was old enough to attend school because dance teachers mostly work in the after school hours.  I did all my mentoring and observation hours at Patty’s studio in Williamsville, and then began teaching in my own space once I was certified.

How did your idea transfer from a previous career to this career?

I was a professional ballet & modern dancer before settling in Buffalo.  Like many people who come here temporarily, I just found it way too easy to stay.  Sadly, that did mean that my professional dance career gradually slipped away… but I absolutely use my love and knowledge of dance when instructing clients in the Pilates method.  Joseph Pilates was not a dancer, himself, but he worked with many dancers; and it was these clients who progressed his method after his death.  There’s a similarity between dance & Pilates in their precision, alignment, and mindful way of moving.

What difficulties did you encounter when you started up?

When I started in 2001, marketing was very expensive.  I couldn’t afford to advertise in print very regularly.  Also, I was tinkering with the class schedule so much, at first, that I didn’t want to pay a lot to have schedules printed.  Social media has changed all that.

Additionally, in 2001, most people didn’t know what Pilates was!  There was a lot of basic explaining involved in getting the word out.  And talking people out of being intimidated by the machines!  A lot of “…no, it’s not a form of yoga” and “yes, really, any body can do it!”

What kept you going?  What prevented you from giving up?

I love that I can create my own schedule.  I love that everyday is different, every client is different; I can do my own research and decide on my own approach to these challenges.  Plus, we own our building on Allen Street where my husband (architect, Brad Wales) created a gorgeous, open loft space… so it’s a no-commute, no-rent, beautiful situation!

Do you ever encounter naysayers?  If so, what do you say to them?

In 17 years of running my business, I’ve never had anyone outright tell me I’m doing it wrong– or be confrontational in any way.  But I’ve certainly had a few clients who don’t want to perform an exercise that I ask of them.  That’s usually because they’re afraid, so we either work towards it, or simply work around it.

What made you realize that Intellectual property protection would be important?

If one were to perform every Pilates Mat exercise designed by Joseph Pilates, back to back, it would take over an hour and there would be no linking transitions, no preps to get you ready.  If you regurgitated this work-out every week, you’d get bored!  So as much as I view Joseph Pilates as a genius, I understand that as a teacher of his method, I have a responsibility to both honor his work and also to create an appropriate, creative, and challenging experience for each person in the class.  I alter things constantly– after 20+ years of practicing and teaching Pilates, this ex-dancer just has to choreograph!  I joke, on occasion, that we’ve left Pilates and begun “Elkins”… one day, my lovely client, Rebecca Stadler, asked if I’d ever considered registering my method.  It took me a while to grasp the importance of it—it initially felt like I was boasting– but she explained that the inflections I’ve made to the voice of Pilates are profound enough to make a distinction.  The years I spent as a dancer and my personal way-of-moving, have contributed to the way-I-teach in my studio.  Ms. Stadler convinced me that that is worth something and should be protected.

What intellectual property protection did you obtain?  

LLC and Servicemark for Elkins Method Pilates

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To learn more about Beth’s studio and experience her work yourself, please see her website, Facebook page, twitter or Instagram!

*If you would like to be a spotlight client, please contact us at attorneys@dvands.com!*

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5 Ways to get Cash! (for your Start-up Business)

The biggest problem that many of our clients face is not having enough money to start or grow their business. For anyone that watches Shark Tank, you see someone come up with a great idea, they then start a business or file a patent application and then … the hard work begins. I often say that the idea or invention is the easy part. The patent application (if relevant) is easy for the inventor because the heavy lifting is typically done by a patent attorney. After that, the next steps are manufacturing, distribution, and marketing. None of these steps are easy and they often require a lot of capital.

So, where can individuals turn to obtain capital for their start-up venture?

  1. Savings. When starting up on your own, if you have savings, you may need to use this to fund the beginning stages of your start-up. Remember to put together a business plan so that you know what your expense will be. For the first 3-6 months of your business, you will probably have very few sales while you are getting your name out there. Make sure that you have enough money to cover your business expenses while you are waiting for your first sales. Also, remember to have enough money to cover your own expenses as well.
  2. “Angel” investors. Angel investors are any investors that do not require a cut of your business in order to invest. They are typically your friends and family or other people that are willing to take a chance on you without much in return.
  3. Traditional banks. Assuming your business plan is in order, you may be able to approach a bank for a traditional loan or a line of credit to keep you solvent while you are waiting for your early sales.
  4. Non-traditional options. Crowdfunding can be a great way to get capital. Kickstarter, GoFundMeIndiegogo, and Patreon are all great examples of sites that allow you to fundraise for your business. In many cases, you will need to offer something in exchange to the donors that fund your campaign. For example, if you need to make product, you may need to promise one of your products to the donors.
  5. IDAs. Local Industrial Development Agencies may be able to offer lending when a traditional bank is unwilling to lend to you.  For more information, please see HERE.

Please note that this information is shared as guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice for your particular business and circumstances. For more information on IP and to access videos about IP, visit our website and youtube page.

Author:
Rebecca M. Stadler, Esq.

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5 Ways Local IDAs Can Help Your Start-Up Business

Recently, I met someone from the local Industrial Development Agency (IDA) here in Erie County and was surprised at how many different options they have to help start-up businesses with obtaining capital for their business.

IDAs started in order to provide resources to help entrepreneurs and business start or grow their business. Typically, the resource that is needed is capital.  In many cases, an entrepreneur or small business is not able to obtain as much money from a traditional bank as they need or has been declined a loan from a traditional bank.  Ultimately, the IDA helps businesses in order to facilitate job growth.

Locally, ECIDA can help with the following different types of general resources and financial resources.

  1. General Resources. When starting or expanding a business, many people don’t know where to look for general information. ECIDA provides information about services provided by different centers that have specific information depending on what you are looking for.  See here.
  2. Tax Incentives. Many people associate IDAs with providing tax breaks and incentives – which they do for businesses that are making large capital investments and creating jobs within the community. In return for these local investments and jobs, the IDA lowers the taxes on these investments freeing up the company’s short term working capital. This is where tax incentives can be very helpful.  See here.
  3. Small Business Loans. These are smaller loans for businesses that are just starting out or don’t have as much of a financial need.  See here.
  4. Large Business Loans. These loans are the next step up from the small business loans. Often, these loans are for businesses that need to buy large pieces of equipment for their business. See here.
  5. Innovation Loans. These loans are for businesses that need capital for the “end stages” of taking a product to market. These businesses are typically in the life sciences, tech, and manufacturing industries.  For more, see here.

While this is just a brief overview of what our local IDA, ECIDA, can do for you and your business, be sure to check out their website, in order to learn more. Also, don’t hesitate to contact them even if it doesn’t seem like they would have the information. Their staff is very warm and inviting and they are trying to promote job creation, so it is in their interest to help you and guide you to the resources that you need.

Please note that this information is shared as guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice for your particular business and circumstances. For more information on IP and to access videos about IP, visit our website and youtube page.

Author:
Rebecca M. Stadler, Esq.

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7 Steps for Starting Your Own Business

Often at the beginning of the year, many people start thinking about starting their own business. The fresh year offers a fresh start for many people that have been thinking about foraging out on their own.

Before jumping head first into a new endeavor, we suggest taking the following steps:

  1. Find Financial Resources – One of the first issues you will have as a small business owner is that you will have expenses right when you start, but you will have no clients or customers to provide you with an income stream. So, you will need to find someone to invest in your business before you start. This may be yourself in the form of your own savings or it may be a relative or friend. It might even be possible to get a business loan from a bank, but in order to obtain a bank loan, you will need to provide them with a solid business plan.
  2. Create a Business Plan – The business plan puts all of your ideas and thoughts onto paper. It is really beneficial because it forces you to think about what your business will offer, how you are going to market, what will set you apart from other similar businesses, and how to budget. There are many resources to help you create a business plan including the Small Business Administration.
  3. Obtain Insurance – When you start a business you will want to make sure that you have a business owner’s policy to cover any general liability that arises while you are conducting business. Depending on what products you are offering, there may be other specific insurance policies that are necessary. Contacting an insurance agency will be really beneficial in understanding what is needed.
  4. Form a Business Entity – There are different options for forming a business entity. Some people choose to go down to County Hall and form an assumed name entity, which allows you to operate under a different name than your own name. There are also more formal options, including forming a corporation or a limited liability company. These options are nice because they can help limit your liability and you can keep your business and personal finances separate.
  5. Think about Trademarks – When choosing a name for your business try to choosing something unique and not too similar to someone else’s name.  More info on trademarks can be found HERE.
  6. Ponder Patents – Depending on what your product is, you may want to patent your product. If you created a new product and you do not want others to sell the same product, obtaining patent protection may provide you with a competitive advantage that will help you distinguish yourself from your competitors.
  7. Consider Copyrights – Again, depending on what your product is, there may be some copyright protection available for your product. For example, if you are selling any type of artwork, then copyright attaches to your work. You will want to take steps to make sure that your work is protected.

Once you have taken the steps above, you may be ready to start your own business!

We note that Intellectual Property (IP) law can be very confusing and abstract. Because of how important IP is, it is important to try to understand a little bit about IP if you are a business owner.

You can attend any of our FREE Pirate Fight Club events, held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Our first Pirate Fight Club event for 2018 is on January 16, 2018!

Please note that this information is shared as guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice for your particular business and circumstances. For more information on IP and to access videos about IP, visit our website and youtube page.

Author:
Rebecca M. Stadler, Esq.

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7 Reasons to Attend Pirate Fight Club®!

 

January 16, 2018, is our first Pirate Fight Club event for 2018. Winter can be a tricky time to get people to attend our events, so we want to let you read about why you should attend one of our Pirate Fight Club events!

Just as a reminder, we hold Pirate Fight Club on the third Tuesday of every month at noon at our offices at 500 Washington Street.

1.Pirate Fight Club is fun!

Every month at the end of our events, the participants always mention that they had a ton of fun.

2.  The first rule of Pirate Fight Club is talking about Pirate Fight Club!

We are constantly encouraging people and businesses to learn more about intellectual property, so talking about Pirate Fight Club is always welcome!

3.Pirate Fight Club is educational!

We put together this event so that people could learn more about intellectual property. Because intellectual property isn’t tangible, many people don’t really understand what it is. So, we try to distill it down and simplify it as much as possible so that people can understand it better.

4.There are organic networking opportunities!

At our events, people introduce themselves and their business ideas and in many cases, people exchange cards and contact information.  You never know who you will meet at Pirate Fight Club!

5.Pirate Fight Club may prevent you from making a costly business mistake!

In many cases, people aren’t aware of how to protect their own intellectual property or how to avoid stepping on the toes of the intellectual property of others. After attending our event, you will know what steps to take to avoid common intellectual property pitfalls.

6.You may win a $10 gift card to Public Espresso!

For participants that post about Pirate Fight Club on social media, we offer a chance to win a gift card to Public Espresso, which is conveniently one block away from our offices and has some of the best coffee in the city!

7.15 minutes of fame!

We film all of our Pirate Fight Club events.  So for those who are not camera shy, you will have an opportunity to be in one of our videos!  Please note, we do not force anyone to be recorded, so if you want to opt out, we always respect your wishes.

Author:
Rebecca M. Stadler, Esq.

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Introducing Create-A-Mini Book – Our first Spotlight Client!

As promised, we are rolling out our first Spotlight Client.  This month’s spotlight client is Create-A-Mini Book, which is led by David Wasik.

We asked David several questions about his endeavor – what it is he does, obstacles he ran into, and a bit about his intellectual property.

DV&S – How did you know you needed IP? What made you realize that it would be important?

David – Coming from a background in the music business and having filed copyright protection for intellectual property in the past regarding composition/lyrics, I was well aware of the importance of protecting the things I create. When you’re an idea person, you should get used to protecting your ideas and what you create, especially if you feel they are original, unique and good.

DV&S – Your business is called Create-A-Minibook – what does this entail?

David – It is a literacy program that is driven by an arts component. Participants are welcomed into the program and are encouraged to decorate, design and write their own short story mini-books. It is an all-ages, family friendly program that I present in the libraries, schools and at public events. It has a wonderful community building component built in that has everyone involved sharing their creations and their stories.

DV&S – How did you come up with the idea and how did your idea transfer from a previous career to this career?

David – One evening I was looking over an eco-friendly package design I came up with a few years back to release my music in and realized that the design could be tweaked and re-appropriated as an educational tool, and that tool would inspire an active learning program. Once I worked out the details on how I would run the program, I took baby steps in developing it and allowed my studies in Early Childhood Education to inform me on content to be offered within the program.

DV&S – What difficulties did you encounter when you started up?

David – Lots of “how to” questions came up! How to register a trademark to protect the name of the program? How to establish a not for profit organization? How to find the right person to help you do this cost-effectively? How to pay for all this?!

DV&S – What kept you going? What prevented you from giving up?

David – I was in the music business for a very long time, starting in NYC and doing business in London, Vienna, etc. so I already have a bit of thick skin. When you’ve gone through hell and survived, you remember what helped you survive, and your schema kicks in and informs you of what to do next and what not to do, who to deal with and who not to deal with. This, and having a few key figures in your life that you can trust and advise you when the going gets rough are priceless when perseverance is in play.

DV&S – Do you ever encounter naysayers? If so, what do you say to them?

David – Naysayers are just part of the game. Let them talk, I really don’t have the time to say much to them…I’m busy! There are risks involved with starting a business and my background in the music business once again helped me to stay firm with a good idea that I had total faith in. Plus, when your idea is one that is designed to help others, I thought, all you have to do is be pro-active and get out there, start helping others and start making a difference. That’s what I’ve done thus far, and Create A Mini-Book continues to grow because of it.

DV&S – What made you realize that intellectual property protection would be important?

David – Good, original ideas are hard to come by. Creative people need to realize this and not only do they have to protect themselves, but they also need to realize that when one has a way of thinking that is special, divergent, abstract/ out of the box, etc. that it is worth something of value…and people will steal your ideas if you don’t protect them! Treat your ideas as something precious, look around for the right people to share them with, and try to establish something with them. This is the age of start-ups. The underground music culture that I came out of in the late 80’s has now become the mainstream culture of the 21st century. DIY, start-ups…this is the way of the future. If we support one another, we’ll survive. If we support the corporations, well…

DV&S – What intellectual property protection did you obtain?

David – I obtained a registered trademark for the non-profit Create A Mini-Book, Inc. that I established as well as a registered trademark protection for the product that drives the program (the mini-book) that I invented, which I call Tabula Waza. The brand is becoming well known in the area as well as the product, and the IP gives me peace of mind knowing they are both protected.

To learn more about David’s project and possibly even attend some of his events, please see his Facebook® page here.

*If you would like to be a spotlight client, please contact us at attorneys@dvands.com!

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5 Steps for Surviving Playoff Season a/k/a How to Not Get Sued for Trademark Infringement

Over the weekend, many football teams learned whether or not they were going to the playoffs. I live in Buffalo and we learned that our hometown team, The Buffalo Bills, will be going to the playoffs (after what was apparently the longest playoff drought in NFL history – 17 years). As you can imagine, everyone here is very excited about the playoffs. In fact, some people are so excited that they have already released products celebrating the occasion.

As an intellectual property attorney, I immediately got nervous about these products because of their potential for infringing the trademark rights of the local football team or even of the NFL.

Many business owners don’t understand trademarks that well. So while I cannot answer whether any particular product is infringing an existing trademark without the particular facts, I can give some general guidance on how to avoid infringing someone’s trademark and what rights are covered by the trademarks.

1.  Make sure you recognize whether there is a trademark

A trademark is any name, slogan, logo, or something similar that identifies the source of the goods or services. For example, a Ford logo indicates that a a particular automobile is from Ford Motor Company. The M&T logo indicates that the banking services are provided by M&T bank. In the case of the NFL, the logo of the different teams on jerseys or other products, indicates that the jersey is from that particular team. The NFL logo indicates that the entertainment (or other good or service) is provide by the NFL.

2.  Make sure to not use something confusingly similar to an existing trademark

Hopefully you have a good understanding about what a trademark is, so now it is important to understand that the purpose of the trademark is to prevent consumer confusion. Consumers need to be able to be confident that they are buying certain goods or services from a particular source, such as a business. The standard for determining whether a consumer is likely to be confused is called “confusingly similar”. There are many factors that go into the legal analysis of whether something is confusingly similar. If you aren’t sure whether something is confusingly similar, you may want to seek a legal opinion. But suffice it to say that if you select something very similar to a trademark that is already out there and it is for very similar goods or services, then you might be getting too close to the trademark rights of the trademark owner.

3.  Don’t forget about trade dress

In addition to trademark rights, goods and service providers may have what are called trade dress rights.  Trade dress rights include the “look and feel”of the packaging or anything else that serves to identify the source of the goods and services. In many cases, especially for sports teams, colors can serve as trade dress. Certain color combinations probably remind you of certain sports teams. Another great example of trade dress rights are the green and yellow of John Deere tractors.

4.  If you get a cease and desist letter, read it closely and take it seriously

In the event that you try to stay away from particular trademarks, but you receive a cease and desist letter nonetheless, read it very carefully and make sure to respond to it. You may consider contacting an attorney for additional guidance.

5.  Try to come up with a unique product and logo

One way to make sure that you aren’t infringing a trademark is to develop a very unique logo or name for your product.  Additionally, ensuring that the product itself is unique will help because people will not confuse a unique product with something else on the market.

Trademark law can be very confusing and abstract. Because of how important branding is and how strong trademark protection is, it is important to try to understand a little bit about trademarks if you are a business owner.

Please note that this information is shared as guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice for your particular business and circumstances. For more information on trademarks and to access videos about trademarks, visit our website and youtube page.

You can also attend any of our FREE Pirate Fight Club events, held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Our first Pirate Fight Club event for 2018 is on January 16, 2018!

Author:
Rebecca M. Stadler, Esq.

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5 Ways to Protect your Brand

Most businesses start up with essentially nothing. No clients, no reputation. Slowly, you market your business and get some people to take a chance on your services or goods. From there, you start to build up some good will. Your customers like you, they like your product, they tell other people about your business, and you get more clients.

All of this good will is wrapped up in your brand.  Your brand is a name or logo or slogan or any other feature or a combination of these that identifies your products and distinguishes it from a competitor’s products.

Your brand is often the most important asset that you have.  We often ask people what would you rather own, all of Nike’s factories or their brand. To us, the answer is always, their brand.

Now that you know that your brand is likely the most important asset that you have, how do you protect it.

1.  Select a distinctive name or logo or slogan

If you are reading this before you have started your business, try to come up with a name or logo or slogan that creates a unique impression. Many businesses want to describe their products in their business name so that people know what they are selling. While this is tempting, try to avoid this. A generic description doesn’t leave much of an impression with customers. Nike is a great mark because Nike is a goddess of speed, strength, and victory. It makes you think that Nike sneakers can make you that goddess as well. Google is an excellent example of a completely fanciful name. It didn’t mean anything before Google used it, but now it is ubiquitous.

2.  Register your name or logo or slogan with the United States Patent and Trademark Office

A trademark is part of the brand. A trademark can be the name or logo or slogan. The importance of registering your business name or logo or slogan cannot be overstated. Federal registration gives you trademark rights in all 50 states and US territories. This means that you can prevent others from using a trademark that is confusingly similar to yours. Because your trademark is registered, it is presumed to be a valid trademark in courts.

3.  Use your brand consistently and if possible don’t change your brand

Because your brand identifies your business as providing certain products, it is important to make sure that your brand is consistent for people to easily recognize.  If you keep changing your brand, then people will need to keep relearning your brand in order to identify your products.

4.  Monitor your trademark

There are many services that can monitor your trademark for you (at a slight fee, of course).  If you are on a very tight budget, you can also set up google alerts to monitor your trademark.

5.  Enforce your trademark

In the unfortunate event that someone is using your trademark, you will want to make sure to enforce your mark. Typically the first step is to send out a cease and desist letter.

Please note that this information is shared as guidance only and is not intended to be legal advice for your particular business and circumstances. For more information on trademarks and to access our Pirate Fight Club® videos about trademarks, visit our website and youtube page.

You can also attend any of our FREE Pirate Fight Club events, held on the 3rd Tuesday of each month. Our first Pirate Fight Club event for 2018 is on January 16, 2018!

Author:
Rebecca M. Stadler, Esq.

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Join Us Tomorrow for Pirate Fight Club®!

 

Do you want to protect your business name or logo, or inventions that you or your company have patented or intend to patent? Perhaps you’re an artist or a writer with copyright concerns? Then join Del Vecchio & Stadler LLP for our FREE event tomorrow, Pirate Fight Club on December 19th in our offices at 500 Washington Street!

In the Age of the Internet, intellectual property piracy is rampant. That means it’s more important than ever to protect names, logos, and ideas from ill-meaning and unwitting intellectual property pirates in Buffalo and beyond. Learn how to guard your assets from piracy at our free monthly event. We’ll be discussing topics such as intellectual property rights, intellectual property formation, trademark registration, registered trademarks, and copyrights.

Don’t be caught unaware and find that your company may have to change its name because someone filed for a trademark before you did. Don’t let someone appropriate your idea and turn it into the next great invention because you weren’t sure how to patent your work or protect the patents that you already have. Don’t let someone get away with taking your art or written work and claiming it as their own original ideas.

Protect your trademarks. Protect your patents. Protect your copyrights. Join Del Vecchio & Stadler LLP Pirate Fight Club® the third Tuesday of every month at noon, free, because your work isn’t.

RSVP on our Facebook event: Free Event: Pirate Fight Club on December 19th!

See video from previous Pirate Fight Club events on our YouTube channel!

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Can I Trademark a Book Series?

Our November Pirate Fight Club guest Kristy is looking to produce a series of books and is interested in how she can protect herself and her work.

Join us for our next Pirate Fight Club® on Tuesday the 19th at noon in our offices at 500 Washington Street. You can learn about intellectual property and how you can protect yourself and your design, invention or other original work!

* Follow us on YouTube! *

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