Everyone in New Orleans knows Camellia Grill. The restaurant with the majestic white columns looks somewhat out of place but has been a mainstay at the corner of St. Charles and Carrollton for decades. The place is not known for great food, it is a gastropub at best, but it is known for its flamboyant waitstaff and unique atmosphere. When you walk in, you’re taken back in time to an old-school diner run by anything but typical New Orleans characters. My mother and brother go there every year for his birthday. While in law school at Loyola, I lived around the corner and spent my fair share of late nights (or were they early mornings?) enjoying some greasy breakfast grub. Every local has their own Camellia Grill story.
After Katrina, the restaurant was closed and it was rumored that it would never open again. People were sad and the grill was close to adding itself to the “Ain’t Dere No More” list. Most New Orleanians I know were happy when new ownership licensed the rights to the restaurant and brought it back to it’s Pre-K form. The new owner also opened additional locations in the French Quarter and Destin, Florida. Somewhere along the line though, the new owner decided to slightly modify the iconic pink rose logo.
The original logo, which you can find here on the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s website, included a green circle around the pink rose. Thew new owner modified the logo to have a green square, which you can see here. No big deal, right? Wrong.
The problem with modifying the logo is that the new owner, Hicham Khodr, did not actually own the logo. He just owned a license and had the rights to use the building and brand name. Michael Shwartz, the original purveyor, retained ownership as the licensor. Under the terms of the licensing agreement, Khodr agreed to not “change any aspect of the Marks in color, design or presentation, without the prior written consent of the Licensor.” This is key, because Shwartz never provided written consent, and under the contract, exercised his right to terminate the lease. Litigation ensued.
Shwartz won on summary judgment and Khodr appealed. The Louisiana Court of Appeal, Fourth Circuit, ruled in Shwartz’s favor. Essentially, the court found that the language of the contract was straightforward. Khodr raised all sorts of arguments, but in the end, the court looked at the language of the contract just as it was written. It’s hard to get around that. Khodr says that he’ll appeal to the Supreme Court, but I don’t see that having much luck. It’s simply a contract.
Also, it appears that Camellia Grill actually has a trademark on the design of the front of the building itself and according to Shwartz’s attorney, the building will have to be completely remodeled. So Camellia Grill won’t be gone, Shwartz could open that up in a new location, but the building at St. Charles and Carrollton won’t be its home and may look completely different.
Obviously, there’s more to this story than what’s available in the press and in the appellate court’s decision. It’s a shame that this dispute may shut down a New Orleans institution.
What is your favorite memory of Camellia Grill?read more
I was recently retained by a New Orleans business owner to help him apply for some city permits. In the process of reviewing his paperwork, I learned that he had purchased this business from another business owner over a year ago, and that he had done so without the help of an attorney or accountant. The other business owner had an attorney and an accountant on retainer. My client had assumed everything would be OK. At the time, it was.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I’m a bit of a technophile. Over the past few months, I’ve been learning to use my new Macbook Air, and in particular, how to automate mundane tasks. Creating a filing system for my documents is one of those tasks, and I detail how I create that in a new post over on PaperlessChase.com.
Head on over to read more.read more
This month’s post on Silicon Bayou News discusses the potential trademark dispute involving a Florida businessman and Florida Gulf Coast University. The school advanced to the Sweet 16 Round of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, and created a frenzy around the phrase “Dunk City.” Now, a businessman in the area is trying to claim that phrase via a trademark filing.
Head on over to Silicon Bayou to read more.read more
Last Tuesday, I gave a presentation to the New Orleans City Council as part of my lobbying efforts for the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition. Based on the recommendation of Ernie the Attorney, I used my iPad Mini and a mindmapping program, iThoughtsHD, to make my argument.
I used ScreenFlow to capture my presentation from the City’s website, and uploaded a clip to Vimeo. Apparently, Ernie tweeted it, and it was picked up by Jeff Richardson over at iPhoneJD. That generated 400 views (as of today). This morning, I released a post on PaperlessChase.com discussing why I enjoyed using the app, and why I plan on using it in the future.read more
I love technology. I especially enjoy discovering and learning technology that I can use to make my law practice smarter, faster, and more efficient. Teaching lawyers these same techniques is one of the goals of the good people over at PaperlessChase.com. Dane Ciolino and Ernie Svenson both love exploring how technology can help improve the practice of law. Megan Hargroder helps explain social media to lawyers based on her experience with her own social media company, Conversations, LLC. The three of them have been holding CLEs in the New Orleans, Baton Rouge, and Lafayette area for a few years now.
So where do I fit in? I enjoy using and learning new technology, and applying it to my law practice. My feedback helps us decide which products we recommend. I also enjoy teaching lawyers how to use new technology to make their jobs easier.
While we’re not talking about the latest technology, teaching, or kicking back a few brews at BBG, we’re blogging. At least we should be. This month, I wrote about sending a New Orleans Style Christmas Card. Except it’s not sent around Christmas. And people won’t throw it away a few weeks later. Head on over to the blog at PaperlessChase.com to read more.read more
This month’s post on Silicon Bayou News shares some important lessons learned by both investors and project creators in a failed Kickstarter project. Head on over to Silicon Bayou News to read the full story.read more
With the Super Bowl less than a month away, websites like Craigslist and AirBNB are full of residents in New Orleans looking to rent their homes. For residents, it’s a quick and easy way to make some cash. And tourists get to stay in a home rather than a hotel. The problem is that, without the proper permit, it’s illegal. Gambit discovered that the city has yet to enforce the code, and City Business has covered the issue, as well.
The City Code prohibit such rentals and is designed to protect New Orleans small business owners. Specifically, it’s designed to protect bread and breakfasts. Yes, there’s a permit for a bread and breakfast. The owners of these businesses need to pay for permits and pay for additional taxes. When private residences are rented out, they take business away from the small hotels, and increase the number of beds. An increased availability of rooms decreases the price. It’s simple supply and demand economics.
Luckily, the city doesn’t completely prohibit such rentals. They only require that you request a permit and pay the proper fee. Whether or not the city decides to actually enforce the ordinance is anyone’s guess. If you want to operate legally, the Bureau of Revenue and Finance can help you with that process. I can also recommend an attorney if you’d rather not handle it yourself.read more
The Louisiana Secretary of State makes it easy for you to list an additional member or manager in your limited liability company (I’ve discussed how to do that before on this very blog, but the SOS also offers an online form). In fact, the SOS makes it seem a little too easy, because with a few mouse clicks and a credit card checkout, you can list a new member. If you want to dot all your I’s and cross all your T’s, the process is a bit more involved.
Before you add that new member, you need to make sure you have the authority to do so. Read your operating agreement, and make sure you’re following the proper procedure for adding an additional member. If you don’t have an operating agreement (and you should, even if you’re one member), then make sure that the members of the LLC have given their written and signed authorization to add new members.
Finally, if you’re adding new members to your LLC, and you don’t have an operating agreement, consider working with an attorney to develop one. Especially if you’re in a two member LLC. It may seem like an unnecessary hassle right now, but it’ll save you time, money, and trouble if you and your business partner ever get into a dispute. With all that said, here’s the step by step process to adding additional members to your Louisiana LLC:
Seems easy, right? Well, that part is. The hard part is drafting an operating agreement that protects all your members and managers. The Secretary of State doesn’t have an online form for that.read more