Ping® – Arts, Entertainment, Media & Advertising Law News – “Five Rs” To Remember

“Five Rs” To Remember When Letting Employees Go

It is inevitable in almost every business. You will need to let an employee go. Whether it’s a seasoned designer coming with plug-and-play experience or a fresh face just out of design school, sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Recently, several of my designer clients have had to fire an employee due to the employee’s misconduct. This could be anything from soliciting and directing company clients and prospects, to doing personal consulting work on the company’s dime, to taking property and information. Regardless of the reason, here are five “R”s to keep in mind.

1. Review the contract.

2. Reconcile and pay.

3. Request return of property.

4. Reiterate respectfulness. 

5. Reserve rights.

With those ideas in mind, let’s consider each one. A little more.

1. Review the contract/offer letter. This is always the first step and will provide guidance on termination rights, procedures and remedies, if any.

2. Reconcile and pay what’s owed. See number 1. Ensure that except for payment of contractual and statutory amounts, no other salary, commissions, overtime, bonuses, vacation pay, sick pay, severance pay, additional severance pay or other payments or benefits whatsoever will be paid.

3. Request return of property and information, in whatever form. Request all property any and all property or documents the employee created or received in the course of employment, including, but not limited to e-mails, passwords, documents and other electronic information, hardware such as laptop computers and cellular telephones, calculators, smartphones and other electronic equipment (mobile phone, tablet, etc.), software, keys, company credit cards, calling cards, parking transponder, information technology equipment, client lists, files and other confidential and proprietary documents, in any media or format, including electronic files.

4. Reiterate a professional’s obligation to remain respectful. Specific admonition of non-disparagement such as “refrain from saying, making, writing or causing to be made or written, disparaging or harmful comments about us, our employees and/or our clients.”

5. Reserve rights. Close your termination notice by expressly reserving legal and equitable rights and remedies.

Please note that this is not legal advice and you should consult your own lawyer regarding your rights and obligations in the context of terminating your employee’s employment.

USPTO Notice of Proposed Rule: Additional Specimens And/Or Evidence Of Use May Soon Be Required

Notice of Proposed Rule, 76 Fed. Reg. 40,839, issued by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) on July 12, 2011 addresses “proof” that a mark is in use. Specifically, the proposed rules address issues related to the USPTO’s ability to verify the accuracy of the identification of goods and services by allowing the USPTO to require additional proof of use of a mark.

The proposed rules allow the USPTO to require (1) additional “information, exhibits, and affidavits or declarations deemed reasonably necessary to examine” renewal applications and declarations of use, and (2) “more than one specimen in connection with a use-based trademark application, an allegation of use, an amendment to a registered mark, or an affidavit or declaration of continued use.” According to the USPTO, the proposed rules “will facilitate an assessment of the reliability of the trademark register . . . so that the USPTO and stakeholders may determine whether and to what extent a general problem may exist and consider measures to address it, if necessary.”

Although the USPTO indicates that the requirements will not be widely implemented, members of the trademark bar have expressed concerns that the circumstances under which the USPTO may require additional specimens and/or evidence are unclear and that such requests may affect filing deadlines.