Our Firm

Since being founded in 1980, Abelman Frayne & Schwab has grown and established itself as a leading law firm specializing in the protection and enforcement of all forms of intellectual property in the United States and throughout the world.  Our clients include major companies in virtually all areas of business, including apparel, alcoholic beverages, automotive, chemical, cosmetics, computers, electronics, entertainment, financial services, foods, hotel services, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, publishing, real estate, retail telecommunications, and toys. While many of our clients are Fortune 500 companies, we pride ourselves on being able to assist smaller companies and individuals in protecting and developing their intellectual property.

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Vindra Richter

Associate
212.885.9275

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Gregory S. Shatan

Partner
212.885.9253
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Douglas J. Gilbert

Partner
 
 
212.885.9381

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Our Address

 
Abelman Frayne & Schwab 10th Floor
666 Third Avenue New York, NY 10017-5621
 

Directions

 
Our offices are conveniently located in the Chrysler Center in midtown Manhattan near Grand Central Terminal.  The building entrance is located at 666 Third Avenue, between 42nd and 43rd Streets.
 

Contact Us

 
You can contact our attorneys directly using their email address or telephone number that is included on their profile page which is accessible from the "Attorneys" section of our website.  If you prefer, you can contact our switch board at 1.212.949.9022, fax us at 1.212.949.9190, send an email to the firm's general in box <e-mail@nulllawabel.com>, or complete and submit the form below (required fields are marked with an asterisk *").
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Alexander Zinchuk

Patent Agent

212.885.9383

azinchuk@nulllawabel.com

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Alex Zinchuk joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 2005 as a patent agent.  Prior to joining the firm, for 25 years Alex worked as a patent agent in several other patent law firms in Cleveland and in New York City.  Alex concentrates his practice on patent prosecution in the mechanical and electrical fields.

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Frank Terranella

Partner

212.885.9179

fterranella@nulllawabel.com

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Mr. Terranella specializes in U.S. and international trademark prosecution. Mr. Terranella is a member of the Trademark Office Practices Sub-committee of the International Trademark Association (INTA).

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Frank Terranella joined the firm in 2000 as an associate attorney in the trademark department. Prior to joining the firm, Frank was a partner in a general practice firm for two years. One of his clients during this time was Ingersoll Rand, for whom he acted as trademark counsel. Prior to that, he was General Counsel of Blenheim Group, Inc., a trade show producer. During his five years there, Frank brought all trademark work in-house, registered scores of trademarks and advised on the proper use of trademarks in materials produced by the company.

Frank concentrates his practice on all aspects of U.S. trademark prosecution from search to registration to maintenance. He is very familiar with the workings of the USPTO and has assisted in solving trademark registration problems for many clients over the last 12 years.

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Charles S. Stein

Associate

212.885.9366

csstein@nulllawabel.com

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Charlie Stein joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 2007 upon graduating law school.  Prior to entering the intellectual property practice, he gained extensive experience as a licensed Professional Engineer in the electric utility, pulp and paper, and water and waste-water treatment industries.

Charlie concentrates his practice on patent prosecution, including  U.S. and PCT applications and the management of foreign patent applications.  He also has developed extensive experience in preparing opinions of counsel, including freedom to operate, noninfringement, and invalidity.

He has worked on matters involving a wide array of electrical and electro-mechanical technologies, including power converters, regenerative drives, static reactive power production, negative sequence current injection, wind turbine blade pitch, and low voltage ride through of turbine systems.

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Theodore J. Pierson

Associate

212.885.9296

tjpierson@nulllawabel.com

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Theodore J. Pierson joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 2008 as an associate in the patent department.  Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Pierson was an associate at a New Jersey law firm practicing in all areas of intellectual property prosecution and litigation.

Mr. Pierson largely devotes his practice to preparing and prosecuting patent applications in various fields of technology, with an emphasis in the mechanical arts and medical devices, including power tools, fitness equipment, catheters, ports, and tissue ablation devices.  His experience includes all phases of domestic and foreign patent prosecution (including PCT prosecution).

Mr. Pierson has intellectual property litigation experience including discovery, legal research, and motion practice.  He has represented clients in the federal courts within New Jersey.  He has also been admitted to represent clients pro hac vice in courts located in other states, including federal courts in Virginia and Connecticut.

Mr. Pierson has prepared opinions of counsel for a variety of patent matters concerning infringement, validity, and patentability.  He also has experience in performing due diligence on intellectual property portfolios for mergers and acquisitions.

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Steven M. Hertzberg

Associate

212.885.9223

shertzberg@nulllawabel.com

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Steven Hertzberg specializes in patent prosecution and related matters, including infringement investigations and opinions.  Prior to entering the intellectual property practice, he gained extensive experience as an engineer in the aerospace and computer industries, and served as corporate counsel for ION Computer Systems, Inc..

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Erica R. Halstead

Associate
212.885.9236

ehalstead@nulllawabel.com

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Erica Halstead joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 2008 as an associate attorney in the trademark department.  Prior to joining the firm, Erica specialized in both foreign and domestic trademark practice at a NYC intellectual property boutique firm.  Additionally, Ms. Halstead managed the trademark and copyright portfolio of an education-centric software company.

Erica concentrates her practice on U.S. trademark prosecution, policing, enforcement, clearance and counseling.  This includes practice before the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in both opposition and cancellation proceedings.  Erica also has experience in negotiating and preparing Assignments, License and Co-existence Agreements.

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Ralph J. Crispino

Partner

212.885.9358

rcrispino@nulllawabel.com

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Ralph joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 2008 as an associate attorney.  Prior to joining the firm, Ralph was concurrently a sole practitioner and counsel for Reveo, Inc., and between 2001 and 2006 exclusively IP counsel and Vice President for Reveo, Inc., where he managed a large, technically diverse patent portfolio.

Ralph’s practice concentrates on patent preparation, prosecution and counseling, in the areas of chemical engineering, chemistry and petrochemical processing systems and controls.

Ralph has patent related experience in various technical fields, including chemical processing, electrochemical cells and components, semiconductor processing, liquid crystal devices, mechanical devices, agricultural systems, biotechnology, encoding security systems, computer software, and various consumer products.

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Victoria T. Coleman

Associate

 
212.885.9303
 

vtcoleman@nulllawabel.com

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Victoria Coleman joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 2011 as an associate attorney in the litigation group.  Prior to joining the firm, Victoria was an Assistant District Attorney at the Bronx District Attorney’s Office in the Investigations Division where she prosecuted, among other things counterfeit, piracy and fraud crimes.  She also participated in a global forum on anti-counterfeiting strategies at the United States Patent Trademark Office.

Victoria’s practice is focused on litigation cases involving patent, trademark, trade secret and copyright issues on both the plaintiff and defense side.  As a member of the litigation group she strategizes to determine the best, most efficient method to obtain optimal results for clients. Victoria is involved in fact gathering, drafting pleadings, electronic discovery and preparing for trial and depositions.  Victoria also assists in counseling clients to developing an IP protection program and determine the best way to protect their IP internationally.

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Lori B. Cohen

Associate

212.885.9347

lbcohen@nulllawabel.com

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Lori Cohen joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 1997 where she was an associate through 2002.  After a hiatus, Lori returned to the firm in 2007.  Prior to joining the firm in 1977, Lori was in house trademark counsel at Jordache Enterprises, Inc. where she was responsible for procuring, maintaining and enforcing rights in the well known Jordache trademarks throughout the world.  Lori has also been associated with Hale and Dorr, now Wilmer Hale & Gibbons, where she practiced domestic and international trademark prosecution in industries including pharmaceuticals, wearing apparel, and technology.

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Jay S. Cinamon

Associate

 
212.885.9232

jscinamon@nulllawabel.com

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Jay Cinamon joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 1986 after 20 years as a Senior Patent Attorney at International Paper Company.  Jay is experienced in the preparation and prosecution of chemical, pharmaceutical, mechanical and design patent applications before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the European Patent Office and various foreign patent offices, inter parties proceedings in the USPTO, and the preparation of infringement and validity opinions.

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Aimee Allen

Associate
212.885.9306
AAllen@nulllawabel.com

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Aimee Allen primarily specializes in litigation and transactional work on commercial trademark matters, principally TTAB opposition and cancellation proceedings and USPTO trademark prosecution.  She has additional expertise in copyright law and licensing for artists and arts organizations in music, photography, film, visual arts and related fields, as well as experience with the music industry licensing, publishing, and recording contracts.

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David Toren (Retired)

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212-949-9022

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dtoren@nulllawabel.com

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Davis Toren is a contributor to the Encyclopedia of Patent Law and Law for Executives and Patentrecht In den USA, in addition to contributing articles to a variety of U.S. and German legal publications. Mr. Toren taught law at Newark College of Engineering and has lectured extensively, primarily in Germany, on intellectual property.  He is fluent in German, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian and Hebrew.

 

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Thomas E. Spath

Of Counsel

212.885.9250

tespath@nulllawabel.com

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Tom Spath joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 1995 as Of Counsel to continue the patent and trademark practice specialties he developed over the prior 25 years as a partner in two other intellectual property specialty firms in NYC.

Tom’s current practice is focused on patent preparation and prosecution in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and in international practice in numerous jurisdictions including the EPO, China, and Japan.

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Robert B. Smith

Of Counsel

 
212.885.9237

rbsmith@nulllawabel.com

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Robert B. Smith’s practice specializes in patent prosecution, litigation, and counseling, primarily in mechanical and electrical engineering, advanced materials, and computer related technologies.  He also has extensive experience in technology acquisition, opinion work, licensing, and trade secret litigation. In addition to district court litigation, he has argued a number of cases before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit with a very high rate of success.

Mr. Smith’s practice has involved patents on communications satellites, tennis racquets and other sporting goods, microprocessor-based control systems, computer software, remote monitoring and control networks, medical devices, automobile engines and hybrid power plants, automobile transmissions, VVVF AC motor controls, automobile security devices, “smart” credit cards and credit card cryptogra­phy, plasma physics, elevators, razors, optics, diamond manufacture, aircraft jet engines, power plant equipment, optics, footwear, road paving machinery, hardware, tools, catalyst filters,telephone switching and communications equipment, optical devices for use in projector equipment, business methods, and wind turbines, as well as other areas.

Prior to joining Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 2009, Mr. Smith was a partner at the IP firm Brumbaugh, Graves, Donohue & Raymond.  He subsequently practiced for 10 years at White & Case, and 10 years at Skadden, Arps, Slate Meagher & Flom.

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Melvin L. Ortner

Of Counsel

212-885-9365

mortner@nulllawabel.com

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Melvin Ortner has extensive experience in advising businesses and transactional matters including licensing, distribution, sourcing, real estate, and commercial agreements.  Mel is experienced in advertising law and has successfully defended his clients’ promotional programs before the Federal Trade Commission.  He also represents executives in employment and separation agreements.

Before joining Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 2003, Mel was the Vice President and Chief Counsel of Sara Lee Branded Apparel.  Prior to that he was the Vice President and General Counsel of Playtex Apparel.  In these capacities Mel was responsible for the management of high profile litigations.  Today he serves on the board of directors of several corporations.

In the civic arena, Mel served two terms as an elected Trustee in the Village of Great Neck, where he also served as Deputy Major and Chairman of the Planning Board.

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J. David Dainow

Of Counsel

212.885.9230

jdainow@nulllawabel.com

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Jerry Dainow maintains a practice in all fields of intellectual property law with an emphasis on prosecution, licensing and counseling.  He has been involved in diverse technical and commercial areas including medical and dental devices, complex mechanical and structural engineering, manufacturing equipment, engines, toys, appliances, designs and trademarks.

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Jennifer R. Waitman

Partner

212.885.9243

jrwaitman@nulllawabel.com

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Jennifer Waitman joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 1998 as an associate attorney in the trademark department.  Jennifer concentrates her practice on international trademark prosecution, litigation, cancellation and opposition procedures, counterfeit goods prosecution and the management of trademark portfolios.  Her international trademark experience includes drafting of settlement and license agreements and analysis of trademark clearance reports.

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Victor M. Tannenbaum

Partner

212.885.9211

vmtannenbaum@nulllawabel.com

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Victor Tannenbaum is a founding member of the firm and specializes in licensing and distribution agreements, assignments, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, and changes in ownership, all with respect to intellectual property on a worldwide basis.

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Julie B. Seyler

Partner
212.885.9297

jbseyler@nulllawabel.com

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Julie Seyler joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 1988 as an associate attorney in the trademark department.  Prior to joining the firm, Julie was an attorney with the United States Trademark Office, prosecuting trademark applications as well as preparing briefs and oral arguments before the Trademark Trial and Appeal  Board.

Julie concentrates her practice on trademark counseling, prosecution and and inter party proceedings before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.  Her experiences includes analyzing the registrability of trademarks, preparing oppositions and cancellations and following such cases through to final briefs and oral arguments before the TTAB.

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Michael J. Schwab

Partner

212.885.9212

mjschwab@nulllawabel.com

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Michael Schwab has been with the firm since 1997 and is a partner.  Mr. Schwab specializes in trademark and copyright counseling, litigation and counseling on regulatory and other issues in the  beverage alcohol, dietary supplement and food industries.  His practice includes all aspects of a domestic and international trademark practice, including advising, searching the availability of marks, filing and prosecuting trademark applications, handling contested oppositions, cancellations and litigations, managing worldwide trademark portfolios, enforcing trademark rights, including gray market goods, anti-counterfeiting, and monitoring and preventing infringing third party trademarks, internet and related domain name use and advertising compliance.

Mr. Schwab also negotiates, drafts and interprets license and other agreements, monitors licensee compliance and manages intellectual property due diligence in connection with corporate mergers and acquisitions.

In the beverage alcohol, dietary supplement and food fields Mr. Schwab counsels clients on a wide variety of issues including federal, state, local and international regulatory compliance, international and domestic distribution agreements, federal alcoholic beverage label approval and state brand registrations, advertising compliance, trade practices and customs and international trade matters.

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Jeffrey A. Schwab

Partner

 
212.885.9215

 

jaschwab@nulllawabel.com

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Jeffrey Schwab is a founding member of the firm.  He is a patent attorney specializing in intellectual property litigation, licensing, Alternative Dispute Resolution (“ADR”), and advertising law.  Mr. Schwab has written various articles on intellectual property licensing and has been a guest lecturer on intellectual property protection at major corporations, universities and bar associations.  He was Chairman of the New York Intellectual Property Law Association subcommittee on ADR for 3 years. He has been lead counsel in a number of jury cases resulting in multi-million dollar awards for the Firm’s clients.  He is an AV rated attorney by Martindale Hubbell, and have been selected for listing for 2013 Top-Rated Lawyers in Intellectual Property by American Lawyer Media and Martindale Hubbell.

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Caridad Piñeiro Scordato

Partner

212.885.9278

cpscordato@nulllawabel.com

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Caridad Piñeiro Scordato joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 1980 as a clerk, attended law school at night and then worked as an attorney for a number of years before becoming a partner of the Firm in 1994.

Caridad specializes in international trademarks, computer and new media law, publishing and literary law, and international litigation. She has represented a broad range of clients in the pharmaceutical, entertainment, publishing, automotive, alcoholic beverage and food industries.

In the area of publishing and literary law, Caridad brings the unique experience and insights of being a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author, with knowledge of the inner workings of the industry.

As the Firm’s Managing Partner for IT, Caridad also has hands-on knowledge and experience in the computer and new media law areas.

Caridad is fluent in Spanish and has a working knowledge of Italian, French and Portuguese.  With those language skills she has assisted clients in a number of important overseas due diligence, litigations, and negotiations.

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Marie Anne Mastrovito

Partner
212.885.0248 

mamastrovito@nulllawabel.com

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Marie Anne Mastrovito joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 1999 as an associate attorney in the trademark department.  Prior to joining the firm, Marie Anne was a Trademark Examining Attorney with the United States Patent and Trademark Office and served as a Staff Attorney with the law firm of Jones Day Reavis and Pogue assisting in unfair competition litigation.

Marie Anne concentrates her practice in the field of trademark prosecution and the representation of clients in Opposition and Cancellations actions and ex parte appeals before the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. In addition, Marie Anne has represented clients in successful appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.

Marie Anne is also experienced in trademark clearance and investigations, preparing cease and desist letters, drafting and negotiating coexistence agreements, and assignment of marks.

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Peter J. Lynfield

Partner

212.885.9208
 

pjlynfield@nulllawabel.com

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Peter Lynfield joined the firm in 1980.  He has been a partner since 1986.  Peter concentrates his practice on U.S. and International trademark, copyright, unfair competition and related matters counseling and litigation.

He has advised clients in various industries, including automotive products, pharmaceuticals, veterinary pharmaceuticals and products, fragrances and cosmetics, beverages, real estate development, pet food music labels and groups, charitable fundraising, food additives, television and film production, personal care products, international human rights organizations and health care facilities.

Peter’s practice includes representing clients in the selection and adoption of trademarks in all countries; searching, availability, registrability and related opinions; preparation, filing and prosecution of trademark applications in all countries of the world; oppositions, litigations and related actions involving trademarks, copyrights, trade dress, unfair competition, dilution and counterfeiting worldwide.

His practice also includes negotiating and drafting license agreements related to all forms of intellectual property; conducting due diligence, opinions  and negotiating  agreements in connection with the IP aspects of acquisitions, such as purchase and sales agreements, license agreements, IP security agreements, assignments; recordal of assignments and security agreements worldwide; acquiring domain names through negotiations and alternative dispute resolution procedures; advising clients on issues relating to compliance with U.S. sanctions administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control.

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Norman D. Hanson

Partner

212.885.9240

ndhanson@nulllawabel.com

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Norman Hanson joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 2011 as a partner.  Prior to joining the firm, for 12 years Norman was a partner at Fulbright & Jaworski, a partner at Felfe & Lynch for 6 years and an associate for 8 years, and an associate at Cooper & Dunham for 2 years.

Norman’s practice focuses on patent prosecution, interferences, and counseling, in the areas of biotechnology, biochemistry, chemistry, and pharmaceuticals.

He has drafted over 400 patent applications, and has served as lead or associate counsel in approximately 15 interferences.  His litigation experience includes deposition practice in the biotechnological and chemical arts, document review and preparation of pleadings.  He has argued before the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and was prevailing counsel in Bosies v. Benedict, 27 F. 3d 539 (1994), and In re Gangadharam, 889 F. 2d 1011 (1989).

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Anthony J. DiFilippi

Partner

212.949.9131

ajdifilippi@nulllawabel.com

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Anthony DiFilippi joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 1995 as an associate attorney in the litigation department.  Anthony concentrates his practice on patent, trademark and copyright litigation and counseling.  His litigation experience includes analyzing patents and technical issues, preparing pleadings and briefs, taking and defending depositions of fact witnesses, assisting technical experts in their preparation of expert reports, conducting and defending depositions of expert witnesses, and examining witnesses at trial.

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Anthony A. Coppola

Partner
212.885.9239

aacoppola@nulllawabel.com

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Anthony Coppola joined Abelman Frayne & Schwab in 1996 and concentrates his practice in patent, trademark and copyright litigation, patent prosecution, intellectual property licensing, and transactional matters.  He has successfully litigated cases in the areas of patent infringement, trademark infringement, theft of trade secrets, trademark counterfeiting and product liability in various jurisdictions throughout the United States.

Anthony’s technical background has allowed him to analyze clients’ technologies and establish their freedom to operate.  He has prepared comprehensive opinions of counsel and successfully negotiated favorable licenses and settlements in numerous patent and trademark disputes.

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Joseph J. Catanzaro

Partner
212.885.9255 

Jjcatanzaro@nulllawabel.com

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Joseph Catanzaro is experienced in all aspects of Intellectual Property and specializes in patent practice, including preparing, filing and prosecuting patent applications, appeals, interferences and related Patent office matters; preparing, filing and prosecuting international patent applications; patentability, right-to-use and due diligence investigations and opinions; patent licensing and related matters.

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Ned W. Branthover

Partner

212.885.9376
 
nwbranthover@nulllawabel.com


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Ned Branthover is the author of “Federal Dilution Act:  Famous Marks Get Greater Protection”, Japanese Trademark Journal and has lectured on Developments in Trade Dress Protection Since Two Pesos v. Taco Cubana to the Westchester & Fairfield Corporate Counsel Association, 1995.  He has also been a lecturer on trademark matters at the INTA Annual Meetings 1996-1999.

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Michael Aschen

Partner

212.885.9207
maschen@nulllawabel.com
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Michael Aschen practices intellectual property litigation and counseling.  Michael devotes the majority of his time to litigating cases before the U.S. district courts.  His litigation experience includes analyzing patents and technical issues, preparing pleadings and briefs, taking and defending depositions of fact witnesses, assisting technical experts in their preparation of expert reports, conducting and defending depositions of expert witnesses, and bench and jury trials.

Michael has litigation experience in wide array of industries including entertainment, television, automotive, professional sports, petroleum, consumer products, apparel, jewelry, Internet, alcoholic beverages, publishing, finance, printing, telecommunications, magnetics, pet products, semiconductors, fertilizers, industrial piping, hardware, and retail.

Michael has also argued numerous appeals before the United States Courts of Appeal for the Second, Sixth, Ninth, Eleventh and Federal Circuits.

Michael provides clients with counseling regarding the development of patent portfolios, has prepared opinions of counsel, identified and resolved potential infringement disputes, and counseled clients regarding licensing opportunities.

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Practice

  • Litigation
  • Trial
  • Patent Transactions and Strategic Counseling
  • Opinions and Counseling

Industries

  • Entertainment
  • Television
  • Automotive
  • Professional sports
  • Petroleum
  • Consumer products
  • Apparel
  • Jewelry
  • Internet
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Publishing
  • Finance
  • Printing
  • Telecommunications
  • Magnetics
  • Pet products
  • Lasers
  • Semiconductors
  • Fertilizers
  • Industrial piping
  • Hardware
  • Retail
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Lawrence E. Abelman

Partner

 
212.885.9201
 

leabelman@nulllawabel.com

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Larry Abelman is a founding member of the firm.  Mr. Abelman is well known for his expertise in international and domestic trademark protection and litigation, licensing and distributorship agreements, entertainment and media law.

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Julianne Abelman

Partner

212.885.9268

jabelman@nulllawabel.com

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Julianne Abelman specializes in all aspects of international and U.S. trademark protection and litigation, including licensing, contracts, and searches.  

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Practice Areas

trademark11.     United States and International Trademarks 2.     United States and International Patentspatent 3.      United States and International Copyrights  4.     Litigation and Enforcement 5.     Licensing and Contracts 6.     Acquisitions, Mergers and Changes in Ownership 7.     Information Technology, The Internet and New Media 8.     Entertainment and Media Law 9.    Beverage Alcohol, Dietary Supplement and Food Laws 10.  Technology and Resources 11.   Foreign Law Firms The foregoing is merely an outline of the services we provide to our clients.  We would be pleased to meet with you to discuss our capabilities in further detail.  For additional information concerning our attorneys, please visit the “Attorneys” link. Home
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Firm Profile

Since Abelman Frayne & Schwab was founded in 1980, the Firm has grown and established itself as a leader, both in the United States and overseas, in the protection and enforcement of all forms of intellectual property.  Our clients include major corporations in virtually all industries, including apparel, alcoholic beverages, automotive, chemical, cosmetics, computers, electronics, entertainment, financial services, foods, hotel services, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, publishing, real estate, retail, telecommunications, and toys.  For more information on the Firm’s areas of expertise, please click on the Practice Areas link in the menu bar above.

Our attorneys have wide ranging experience in many specialties including patents, trademarks, copyrights, licensing, contracts, mergers and acquisitions, entertainment, new media law, and Internet law.  For more information on our attorneys, their areas of expertise, and contact information, please click on the Attorneys link in the menu bar above.

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On April 22, 1924, the United States Patent Office issued U.S. Patent No. 1,490,987 entitled, “Laminated Padlock” to its inventor Harry E. Soref.

While working as a locksmith in 1919, Harry Soref (March 2, 1887 – March 1, 1957) came to realize that cheaper padlocks, made with stamped metal sheets, were poor security because they were easily damaged. He applied the idea to his invention of a laminated padlock because bank vault doors and battleships were built in laminations of layer on layer of steel for greater strength. This application also created a low-cost construction for a padlock.

When Soref was unable to sell the concept of his invention to any existing manufacturer, he began making them at his own company – the Master Lock Company – which first opened as a tiny facility in Milwaukee, Wisconsin in 1921. The first padlocks were produced in a single room of a small commercial building, which consisted of a drill press, a grinder, a punch press and five employees. Despite the lack of money, equipment and size, the product the little company manufactured turned out to be significantly better than anything else on the market.  Not only were these locks stronger, but they were also much heavier than other padlocks. This turned into an unforeseen advantage as the public associated added weight with added strength and the business took off. Soon thereafter, Soref moved the Master Lock Company out of his one room shop and into the nearby abandoned Pabst Brewery – which was being rented out during prohibition.

Ironically, Prohibition provided another key to the success of the Master Lock Co.  In 1928, the company gained national recognition for shipping 147,600 padlocks to federal prohibition agents in New York for locking up the speakeasies they raided – and the rest, as they say, is history.  In 1935, he introduced the Master combination padlock.

Make some Intellectual Property History this week!

By: Anthony A. Coppola, partner Abelman, Frayne & Schwab

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Michael Schwab

The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a decision of the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (“TTAB”) on likelihood of confusion may preclude re-litigation of the issue in a later filed suit in a district court for trademark infringement, but only if the issues before the TTAB and district court are “materially the same.” B&B Hardware, Inc. v. Hargis Industries, Inc., No. 13-352 (U.S. Mar 24, 2015). This decision may expand the scope of trademark opposition and cancellation proceedings since a TTAB decision on likelihood of confusion could now dictate whether a district court should enjoin the use of a trademark.

Issue preclusion is the doctrine that prevents a party from re-litigating an issue that has already been decided. “When an issue of fact or law is actually litigated and determined by a valid and final judgment, and the determination is essential to the judgment, the determination is conclusive in a subsequent action between the parties, whether on the same or a different claim.” Restatement (Second) of Judgments §27. B&B Hardware concerned the application of issue preclusion in a trademark administrative context.

A trademark opposition or cancellation proceeding before the TTAB is similar to a litigation in federal district court, but the case is decided on the papers. Although deposition testimony may be presented, live witnesses do not appear before the TTAB. In addition, the only relief available is the refusal or cancellation of a trademark registration. The TTAB cannot enjoin the use of a trademark or award monetary damages. Likelihood of confusion is the test used by both the TTAB to grant or deny a trademark registration and a district court to determine trademark infringement. Unlike a district court the TTAB generally reviews the issue of likelihood of confusion in the abstract based on how the parties define their goods in their trademark applications and registrations and not how the trademarks are actually used in the marketplace.

Hargis Industries filed an application to register the trademark SEALTITE for metal screws used in the construction of buildings. B&B Hardware, which owns a registration for SEALTIGHT for fasteners adopted for use in the aerospace industry, opposed Hargis’ application on the basis of likelihood of confusion. The TTAB sustained the opposition and refused Hargis’ application. Hargis did not appeal the refusal.

B&B then sued Hargis for trademark infringement in federal district court and argued that issue preclusion applied to the TTAB’s finding on likelihood of confusion and that since the issue was conclusively decided it could not be re-litigated in the district court. The district court disagreed finding that only decisions from constitutionally authorized courts and not administrative agencies can have preclusive effect. The Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit also ruled in favor Hargis, but for a different reason. The Eighth Circuit found preclusion was not appropriate since the TTAB and district courts utilize different criteria to determine likelihood of confusion.

The Supreme Court reversed. Justice Alito, writing for the majority, found that even though the TTAB generally considers likelihood of confusion in the abstract and not based on how the marks are actually used in the market place, there is no absolute rule preventing a TTAB decision from having preclusive effect on a district court. The Court remanded the case to the Eighth Circuit directing it to apply the following rule: “So long as the other ordinary elements of issue preclusion are met, when the usages adjudicated by the TTAB are materially the same as those before the district court, issue preclusion should apply.”

This decision could significantly alter the manner in which trademark opposition and cancellation proceedings are litigated before the TTAB. A party to an opposition who wants to try to gain the benefit of issue preclusion in a later filed infringement action may attempt to proffer significantly more evidence of the actual use of their trademark in the marketplace to ensure the issue of likelihood of confusion as decided by the TTAB is “materially the same” as the issue would be decided by a district court. This may increase the burden on the TTAB, but streamline later filed infringement actions. Further, a party losing in an opposition proceeding may have added incentive to appeal the issue to a district court, rather than risking the same results in an infringement action. Parties can no longer assume that an infringement action will be a do over.

 

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The firm is pleased to announce the publication of A Practitioner’s Guide to Patent Litigation in Germany, Japan and the United States (Hart Publishing 2015) co-authored by founding Partner Jeffrey Schwab. The book provides a comparative overview on patent law and patent litigation proceedings in Germany/Europe, Japan and the United States. The systematic presentation of the legal systems including comprehensive references reveals differences and similarities. Jeff authored the United States portion of the book.

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Our Partner Greg Shatan has been elected President of the Intellectual Property Constituency of ICANN. The Intellectual Property Constituency represents the views and interests of intellectual property owners worldwide in the ICANN “global multistakeholder community” and works to ensure that IP owners’ views are reflected in domain name policy and implementation adopted by ICANN. ICANN is the non-profit corporation charged with management and policy implementation for the worldwide Domain Name System (DNS). IPC membership includes leading international and national intellectual property organizations, as well as brandowners, content owners and distributors, and law firms from around the world.

Domain name issues continue to be of great importance to the intellectual property community and the public. ICANN is overseeing the roll-out of over 1500 new top level domains (TLDs) (such as .blog, .bank, and .nyc) fundamentally changing the landscape of the Internet, and in turn, changing brand protection and exploitation strategies for trademark owners. ICANN is also in the midst of managing a major change in the governance of the Internet, as the U.S. government will be relinquishing its oversight of certain critical technical Internet functions (the “IANA functions”). Greg is also playing a key role in the “IANA transition,” representing the interests of commercial stakeholders worldwide in negotiating this historic changeover.

Greg’s practice includes a significant emphasis on Internet and domain name matters of all types, as well as intellectual property and technology transactions, and IP aspects of major corporate transactions. He also advises clients on the management, protection and enforcement of trademark and domain name portfolios. He can be reached at 212-885-9253 or gsshatan@nulllawabel.com.

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Charles Stein, Esq.

Devices manufactured by different companies can often work together because they adhere to standards established by industry groups. Where the standards are based upon patented subject matter (“standard essential patents” or “SEPs”), the standard-setting groups typically require that the patentee establish reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) terms for licensing its technology.

In patent infringement cases not involving standard essential patents, courts have long instructed juries to consider 15 factors, as formulated in Georgia-Pacific Corp. v. U.S. Plywood Corp., 318 F. Supp 1116 (S.D.N.Y. 1970). In RAND cases, a number of the Georgia-Pacific factors are partly or entirely inapplicable, leading to questions of how the trial courts should adjust the jury instructions. Four different district courts have addressed these questions, with those courts following different approaches.

On December 4, 2014, the Federal Circuit provided its guidance, in Ericsson, Inc. v. D Link Systems, Inc. In the trial court in the Eastern District of Texas, the judge had instructed the jury in the 15 Georgia-Pacific factors, adding a 16th “factor” referring to the patentee’s RAND obligations. The Federal Circuit held that approach was an error, as at least five of the 15 Georgia-Pacific factors were inapplicable under the facts of that case. The Federal Circuit explained that it could not formulate a modified version of the Georgia-Pacific factors that would apply to every RAND case, and that instead, trial judges must consider the evidence presented in the case when formulating the jury instructions.

Ericsson also provides guidance on apportionment analysis. In all patents, the royalty rate must be apportioned to the incremental value added by the patented invention, and this is particularly true for standard essential patents. The Federal Circuit held that the royalty rate for SEPS should reflect the value added solely by the technology, and not consider additional value that may be created due to the adoption of the industry standard.

Another issue relevant to patent litigation and particularly to RAND cases pertains to instructions on hold-up or royalty stacking. Hold-up refers to a patentee demanding excessive royalties from licensees who must conform to the patented industry standard. Royalty stacking becomes a problem if a licensee is faced with a significant number of SEPs that must be licensed in order to conform to the industry standard. The trial courts had different views of who should bear the burden for addressing whether there was improper hold-up or stacking. The Federal Circuit approved of the approach by the trial court in Ericsson, holding that an accused infringer requesting an instruction on patent hold-up and royalty stacking must provide evience in relation to the patentee’s RAND commitment.

The Federal Circuit’s opinion in Ericsson v. D-Link is viewed as favorable to the position of those companies who own patents that are the subject of industry standards.

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