The firm successfully defended Marshall Strabala from a federal lawsuit filed by his former employer, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill (“SOM”). Marshall specializes in the design of super-tall skyrises. He worked as a studio head under Adrian Smith on the designs of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai and the  Nanjing Greenland Financial Center in Nanjing, China. He left SOM to work for Gensler. There, he worked on the design of the Shanghai Tower. He eventually left Gensler to start his own firm, 2DEFINE Architecture, where he continues to work on the Shanghai Tower at the behest of the client.

SOM and Gensler were not happy that Marshall started his own architectural firm, so they filed coordinated lawsuits in different states to harass him. SOM sued him in New York on June 8, 2011, and Gensler sued him in Chicago on June 9. We represented Marshall in New York, and moved to dismiss the action because he had nothing to do with New York—in fact, he has not been here since 2007.

The Court in Chicago dismissed Gensler’s lawsuit against Marshall, so we had a tough act to follow. The New York Court allowed SOM to take discovery into Marshall’s ties to New York. After discovery turned up no new evidence tying Marshall to New York, Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum issued an order transferring the case to Chicago, Illinois.

The case was captioned Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP v. Strabala, 11-cv-3906 (MGC). William Chuang was lead counsel for Marshall Strabala.

Last year, the Second Avenue Deli received a letter from the Heart Attack Grill demanding that it stop selling the Instant Heart Attack Sandwich, which is a double-deck sandwich made with latkes—potato pancakes. The Grill claimed that the name of the Sandwich was too similar to their trademarks. The Grill threatened to sue. Rather than to submit to this bullying, the Deli retained our firm to protect its trademark rights. We filed a lawsuit in the Southern District of New York seeking a declaration that the Deli was not infringing the Grill’s trademarks.

Today, Judge Paul A. Engelmayer issued an Opinion and Order that allowed the Deli to continue using the “Instant Heart Attack Sandwich” in Manhattan. The Court also expressly left the door open for the Deli to seek further rights before the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Additionally, the Deli was allowed to start serving the “Triple Bypass Sandwich,” which is a triple-decker also made with potato latkes. Last, but not least, the Court found that the Deli was a “longstanding New York institution” that serves “iconic dishes and food items”—certainly you’re doing something right when a federal court recognizes that your restaurant is special.

William Chuang was lead counsel for the Second Avenue Deli in this case, Lebewohl et al. v. Heart Attack Grill, et al., 11-cv-3153 (PAE)(JCF).

People often claim one thing or another must surely be protected by “fair use.” It is used quite lightly in casual speech. This phrase, however, has a specific legal meaning and context. So let’s define it a little more specifically before moving on. Read the rest of this entry »

Bankruptcy carries with it a stigma of financial irresponsibility and mismanagement. However, that stigma is undeserved. The majority of bankruptcies are caused by unforeseen expenses such as medical bills or unpredictable events such as the breadwinner getting laid off. The truth is that bankruptcy is a very powerful tool that, when used correctly and strategically, can grant a financial fresh start to deal with these unfortunate events. This article will provide a basic overview of consumer bankruptcy.

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On February 11, 2010, the New York City Council passed the Tenant Fair Chance Act, which protects prospective tenants from inaccurate court docket reports. In New York City, tenants sued in Housing Court are put on court docket reports, which are used by many landlords in considering applications. In many cases, these docket reports are effectively blacklists. Unlike credit reports, these lists are not based on Social Security Numbers but rather on the tenant’s name, and landlords are not required by federal law to provide a copy of the report to the prospective tenant. These factors make the system relatively unreliable. The Tenant Fair Chance Act requires landlords to provide prospective tenants with the names and addresses of any screening companies they use. The City Council hopes that the law will give tenants a way to make sure renting decisions are made with accurate information.

Citibank and Fannie Mae announced that they will suspend foreclosures and evictions for thirty days, which would give thousands of borrowers a brief holiday respite from the legal process meant to take their homes away. At the same time, CitiMortage has converted only 271 out of the 103,478 trial mortgage modifications into final modifications. When faced with their dismal performance in finalizing mortgage modifications, the banks uniformly blamed borrowers who completed the trial period but did not send in paperwork necessary to finalize their modifications. One wonders if these banks could have avoided some foreclosures by finalizing more mortgage modifications.

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New York City has a system of rent stabilization that is meant to provide affordable housing to the working class. The rent stabilization program limits the rents a landlord can charge and caps the annual rate of rent increases. Landlords must also offer renewal leases and required services to tenants, who can be evicted only for specific reasons set forth in the law. The subject is controversial and leads to many landlord-tenant disputes. This article provides an overview of the rent stabilization program in New York City.

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Cease and desist letters are sent by companies asserting their trademarks, patents, or other intellectual properties. Receiving such a notice can be a nerve-wracking experience. Choosing the right response to such a letter can be crucial for a small business.

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People always ask me: Is there any way to lower the principal on my mortgage?  The answer is yes and no.  Confused? That’s ok – you are just one of millions of homeowners who aren’t clear on what their rights are as homeowners. While the best way to deal with falling behind on your monthly mortgage payments is to modify your mortgage loan, there are other ways to save on your monthly payments.

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During the course of the recent housing bubble, lending institutions bundled thousands of consumer mortgages into complicated securities that were sold many times. The transfer records of each mortgage in the bundled securities became increasingly byzantine. When the mortgage market fell apart in the current recession, some of the investors left holding the mortgage-backed securities discovered that there were unable to prove that they owned the right to collect on the mortgages.

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