Does Your Illinois Business Have A Registered Trademark?

gw_adminBusiness Law, Justice In Geneva

Businesses spend valuable time, effort and money on strategies to grow their market share.  Whether a business is a provider of services or a seller of goods, the manner in which a business distinguishes itself from competitors is not only important, but extremely valuable as the market for your services or goods grows and customers begin to identify with your brand.  Businesses should take great care to protect that brand, including the proper registration of trademarks. What are marks?  Broadly speaking, marks are slogans, symbols and designs your business utilizes to identify itself and its products or services.  Marks generally fit within three categories:  trademarks, service marks and trade dress.  Trademarks are words, symbols or designs that identify with a … Read More

The Importance of Estate Planning In Illinois

gw_adminEstate Planning, Justice In Geneva

Estate Planning, or what is commonly known as the creation of a will or family trust, is a vital asset to any Illinois family. Nearly every parent recognizes the importance of a proper plan to care for their family in their absence. However, as family life becomes ever busier, and we struggle with work, after school schedules, financial planning, retirement planning and more, we often neglect our estate plan. Neglecting your estate plan can have dire consequences. Please consider these five reasons to prioritize your estate plan: 1. Protecting your children. As part of your estate plan, you will designate guardians for your children in the event of your death. Without these designations, should you and your spouse pass away, the … Read More

The Illinois Freedom To Work Act: The Beginning of the End for Non-Competes in Illinois?

gw_adminEmployment Law, Justice In Geneva, Non-Compete

As state and federal courts in Illinois continue to wrestle with enforcing post-employment, non-compete agreements and other restrictive covenants, such as non-solicitation and confidentiality agreements, definitive action on these common employment agreements recently came from an unlikely source – the state legislature. On August 19, 2016, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed into law the Illinois Freedom To Work Act. The Illinois Freedom To Work Act declares all “covenant[s] not to compete” entered into between an employer and “low-wage employee” as illegal and void. The statute went into effect on January 1, 2017, in the wake Illinois Attorney General’s 2016 lawsuit against the sandwich company, Jimmy John’s, concerning Jimmy John’s alleged practice of forcing its restaurant workers to sign non-competes. Given the … Read More

New Illinois Laws for 2017

gw_adminJustice In Geneva, Recent News

2017 is well underway, and along with it, Illinois enacted nearly 200 new laws. A few of these noteworthy laws include the following: 1. Juvenile Interrogations. Children under the age of 15 charged with serious crimes must be represented by counsel during interrogations. Any statements made by a youth without the benefit of counsel present would be deemed inadmissible in Court. This law applies to charges that would be considered a felony if committed by an adult. 2. Prison vs. Probation. Judges must provide an explanation of why they are choosing to put someone in prison for a crime that would have allowed for only probation. This law applies to individuals who are convicted of less serious felonies, and who … Read More

Illinois Construction Law-Payment

gw_adminConstruction Law, Justice In Geneva

Construction subcontractors throughout Illinois face many obstacles to success. One such obstacle these business owners encounter is payment disputes. While some payment disputes are legitimate; property owners, developers and general contractors often withhold payment of several thousands of dollars to subcontractors because of a dispute over a $200 change order or some other, seemingly insignificant reason. Missing a monthly draw payment or waiting on a retainage payment for months on end can be devastating to a subcontractor that is already financing the cost of materials as well as its payroll. Thus, it should come as no surprise that these payment failures can be used to pressure subcontractors into onerous contract changes and, in some instances, drive them out of business … Read More

Illinois Franchise Rights-Renewal

gw_adminBusiness Law, Justice In Geneva

Illinois Franchise owners often invest thousands, perhaps millions, of dollars and countless hours in building and running their franchise businesses. The right to operate these franchise businesses is typically governed by a contract that is commonly referred to as a “Franchise Agreement.” These contracts often have onerous anti-competition provisions which apply to franchise owners upon termination of the franchise. Termination of a franchise can occur for cause or, under most Franchise Agreements, after a set period of time. The question that keeps many franchise owners up at night is, “what happens to my business if the franchisor does not renew my franchise?” Luckily, the Illinois legislature has enacted legislation to protect franchise owners from the loss of their business. The … Read More

Used Car Sale Fraud Judgment

gw_adminConsumer Law, Justice In Geneva, Recent News

Kristin Stone of Griffin | Williams LLP recently obtained a $75,981.10 judgment on behalf of a consumer and against a used car dealership for consumer fraud under the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Practices Act, 815 ILCS 505/1 et seq. The judgment, which included $37,800.55 in punitive damages, resulted from the sale of a used 2006 Jeep Commander. The vehicle had numerous hidden defects and an undisclosed accident history. Shortly after the sale, our client experienced repeated breakdowns. In at least one instance, she became stranded with her children on an interstate. The dealer reneged on promises to allow her to trade out of the vehicle on numerous occasions. Eventually, it was discovered that the dealer could not obtain good … Read More

New Illinois Laws For 2015

gw_adminJustice In Geneva, Recent News

With the new year, a host of new laws recently took effect in the State of Illinois – some with little or no notice.   Some new laws of note include: Underage Drinking. Parents and guardians can be fined up to $2,000 if they allow those younger than 21 to drink in vehicles, trailers, campers or boats under their ownership or control. Parents and guardians can also be charged with a felony if a death occurs as a result.  This is an expansion of existing state law which imposes similar penalties for allowing underage drinking in the home. Pregnancy Rights. Employers must provide “reasonable accommodations” for working pregnant women unless it would impose an “undue hardship” on their business. While “reasonable … Read More

Roadblocks & U-Turns

gw_adminJustice In Geneva, Traffic Law

As the holiday season is upon us, the lawyers at Griffin|Williams LLP have attended several holiday parties and answered hundreds of “quick questions” from friends, colleagues and acquaintances. The inquiries range from concerns over traffic tickets to estate plans, real estate transactions to business disputes and much more. A question about police roadblocks and the propriety of u-turns to avoid them stood out. The question concerns a circumstance most everyone has experienced – – a police roadblock. The thought that crosses many drivers’ minds when confronted with a roadblock and the long line preceding it is, what if I “pulled a u-ey” and avoided this mess? Could the police stop me for simply making a u-turn? A recent Illinois Appellate … Read More

Bonus Payments-Earned or Not?

gw_adminEmployment Law, Justice In Geneva

As the end of the year approaches, employers are preparing to reward employees with year-end and performance bonuses and make important human resource decisions relative to employee retention. Similarly, employees view the year-end as a time to explore transition to new positions. Conflicts often arise with respect to the payment of bonus compensation when an employee leaves or is terminated at years-end. Employers commonly take the position that former employees are no longer entitled to receive a bonus as they are no longer employed. While this might be true relative to a discretionary bonus, it does not always hold true for performance or guaranteed bonuses. Once earned, a bonus, whether commission-based or otherwise, is viewed in the law as earned … Read More