Archer Wins Historic U.S. Supreme Court Victory in Federal Trademark Suit Vindicating First Amendment Rights of ‘The Slants’

Decision considered to be one of the most significant in defining the scope of First Amendment protections

The Supreme Court of the United States reaffirmed the fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the First Amendment to all Americans in handing down its 8-0 favorable decision in the high-profile Lee v. Tam case. The Supreme Court ruled that the Portland-based Asian-American rock band, The Slants, will be permitted to register their trademark, THE SLANTS, under The Lanham Act (also known as the Trademark Act of 1946).

A team of three Archer attorneys, including Ronald D. Coleman, John C. Connell and Joel G. MacMull, represented musician Simon Shiao Tam in his successful defense of the ruling by the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in December 2015, which reversed the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s refusal to register Mr. Tam’s trademark under the disparagement clause of §2(a) of the Lanham Act.

The Supreme Court’s ruling reaffirmed the Federal Circuit’s decision that the government’s denial was unconstitutional for violating the First Amendment noting, “We now hold that this provision violates the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment. It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend.”

“Today’s landmark decision is an overwhelming victory for Mr. Tam, the members of his band and the many advocates across the country who work so tirelessly to preserve our First Amendment rights,” said John C. Connell, partner and chair of both the appellate advocacy and communications law groups at Archer. “This win is relevant to the Washington Redskins football team case, as well as all individuals, businesses and organizations that are advocates for free speech. The debate over the propriety of language may continue, but only where it belongs: in the crucible of open, wide-ranging public discourse, unimpeded by the government acting as the arbiter of what is and is not permissible speech.”

Under the ruling, the decision will likely put an end to the statutory bar that precluded an applicant from obtaining registration of a trademark that was deemed offensive by the government. Additionally, the verdict provides clarity on the disparagement provision, which Archer’s attorneys successfully argued was, in addition to violating First Amendment considerations, too vague and imprecise in its language and application to be constitutional.

“The firm has been providing pro-bono legal services to The Slants since spring of 2015, and we are thrilled that our efforts have achieved a significant legal policy resolution supporting freedom of speech issues across the country,” said Ronald D. Coleman, partner and lead trademark attorney at Archer.

This case is considered to be one of the most important matters before the Court this term. The full Supreme Court opinion can be found here.

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Archer is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and eight offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Red Bank, New Jersey; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.; New York, New York; and Wilmington, Delaware. The Firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for 85 years. Each office provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law including corporate, intellectual property, health care, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury, and real estate services. For more information, visit archerlaw.com.

David A. Schneider Presented Real Estate Tax Assessment Seminar to City of Philadelphia Law Department

 From left to right:  Valerie Robinson, Chair, Corporate & Tax Group, City of Philadelphia Law Department; David Schneider, Partner, Archer; Drew Aldinger, Senior Attorney and Counsel, City of Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment; James Zwolak, Divisional Deputy City Solicitor, City of Philadelphia Law Department; Christine Bak, Senior Attorney, Corporate & Tax Group, City of Philadelphia Law Department.

 David Schneider, a Partner in Archer’s Real Estate Tax Appeal Group, recently presented the program, “Philadelphia Real Estate Tax Assessments 101” to the City of Philadelphia Law Department. Drew E. Aldinger, Senior Attorney and Counsel to the City of Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment, presented along with Mr. Schneider.

The presentation addressed hot button real estate assessment topics in Philadelphia, including the reassessment process and its impact on various property types, real estate tax exemptions, and tax abatements and PILOT programs. The presentation also addressed issues of uniformity and non-discrimination in real estate assessment and taxation, real estate tax appeal law and procedures, and school district reverse appeals.

The School District of Philadelphia took approximately 149 “reverse” appeals challenging the tax year 2017 assessments of approximately 149 commercial properties. Most of these appeals are pending in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. The Philadelphia Office of Property Assessment is currently implementing a 2018 reassessment of 65,000 commercial, industrial and institutional properties in Philadelphia. It expects the reassessment to result in additional taxes of approximately $118 million.  

The 2017 reverse appeals and 2018 reassessment could significantly impact property taxes. Taxpayers in Philadelphia should evaluate the potential tax increase or reduction, and take the necessary steps to protect their rights to uniformity in assessment, and equality and fairness in taxation.

Mr. Schneider handles valuation related litigation, including complex commercial and industrial tax appeals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and throughout the East Coast region. Additionally, he advises clients regarding potential real estate tax liability for property being considered for purchase and/or development. He is also a Pennsylvania State Certified General Real Estate Appraiser.

Archer & Greiner, P.C. is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and eight offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Red Bank, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, N.Y.; and Wilmington, Del. The firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for 85 years. Each  office  provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law, including corporate, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.archerlaw.com.

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Michael Weinberg Elected Chair-Elect of NJ State Bar Association Family Law Section

Michael A. Weinberg, a Partner in Archer’s Haddonfield office, was recently elected as Chair-Elect of the Family Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA). Mr. Weinberg is a Certified Matrimonial Attorney and serves as Co-Chair of Archer’s Family Law Department. He has over 20 years of experience in matrimonial law and family law matters.

Mr. Weinberg has been a member of the Family Law Section Executive Committee for several years having served as 2nd Vice Chair for 2015-2016 and as Secretary for 2014-2015. He is Associate Managing Editor of the New Jersey Family Lawyer, a publication of the New Jersey State Bar Association Family Law Section.

Membership of the NJSBA’s Family Law Section totals over 1,300 attorneys. Its Executive Committee is not only the leading voice for family lawyers throughout New Jersey, but also sponsors and leads ambitious programs monitoring family law legislation and co-sponsors programs of continuing legal education for New Jersey’s family lawyers. The mission of the Family Law Section is to maintain and improve the practice of family law through effective interaction with the family courts and by informing members of current legislation and regulations.

Mr. Weinberg is a former Co-Chair of the Camden County Bar Association Family Law Section, Executive Committee and is a Matrimonial Early Settlement Panelist for Burlington, Camden and Gloucester Counties. Over the years, Mr. Weinberg has served as a speaker for various professional and industry organizations and appeared on several television programs speaking on a variety of topics related to family law.

Archer & Greiner, P.C. is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and eight offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Red Bank, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, N.Y.; and Wilmington, Del. The firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for over 85 years. Each office provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law, including corporate, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.archerlaw.com.

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John Connell Honored by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey

John C. Connell, a Partner in the firm’s Haddonfield office, was recently honored by the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ) at the UWGPSNJ Community Awards Celebration held on May 18th at the Ramblewood Country Club in Mount Laurel, NJ.

Mr. Connell was presented with the Campaign Cabinet Volunteer Award, given to a volunteer whose commitment to the United Way was evident by their performance and leadership on the cabinet and their overall contribution to the campaign’s success. Mr. Connell is a member of the United Way Burlington Camden Local Board.

The annual event celebrates the efforts of the volunteers and corporate partners who have made the commitment to changing lives and strengthening their community through their collective time and talent.

Archer has a long and proud history of supporting the United Way, both financially and through service. The firm is a perennial leader in United Way fundraising among professional firms in the area.

 Archer & Greiner, P.C. is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and eight offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Red Bank, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, N.Y.; and Wilmington, Del. The firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for over 85 years. Each office provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law, including corporate, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.archerlaw.com.

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Tiffany Wagner Donio Appointed Secretary of NJ State Bar Association Taxation Law Section

Tiffany Wagner Donio, a Partner in Archer’s Haddonfield office, has been elected Secretary of the Taxation Law Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association (NJSBA). The Taxation Law Section studies and disseminates information on developments in tax law, and provides a forum for discussion of tax policy issues by professionals and elected and appointed officials.

Ms. Donio specializes in the practice of corporate law and tax law. She provides representation to for-profit entities and their principals in a variety of matters, including entity formation, corporate governance, corporate and partnership terminations, mergers and acquisitions, business contracting and public company reporting obligations. Ms. Donio also advises clients on a variety of tax issues, including choice of entity, conversions from one form of entity to another, income tax planning, federal and state tax audits and appeals, and compliance with state and local tax laws, including sales tax issues. She is currently working toward an Executive LL.M. in Taxation from New York University.

Ms. Donio was recently named as one of South Jersey Biz magazine’s “Women to Watch” for 2017. She was among 20 female professionals the publication honored who are on the rise in the local business community. In 2014, Ms. Donio was named by SNJ Business People to its 40-Under-40 list of the most promising young business people in southern New Jersey. Ms. Donio serves on the Board of Directors of the Non Profit Development Center of Southern New Jersey.

Archer & Greiner, P.C. is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and eight offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Red Bank, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, N.Y.; and Wilmington, Del. The firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for over 85 years. Each office provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law, including corporate, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.archerlaw.com.

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Archer Named Corporate Partner of the Year by Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey

Archer & Greiner was presented with the Corporate Partner of the Year Award by the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey (HBA-NJ) during the Bar Association’s Annual Scholarship Gala and Awards Dinner on May 20th at the Park Chateau in East Brunswick. Archer received the distinction from the HBA-NJ in recognition of Archer’s long history of partnering with the Bar Association to support their scholarship, mentoring and community education programs. Archer attorneys regularly volunteer their time to support the HBA-NJ.

The recognition by the HBA-NJ includes Archer’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion, as demonstrated by the firm’s multiple diversity initiatives, including scholarship programs with Rutgers School of Law, Temple University Beasley School of Law and the Philadelphia Diversity Law Group. Archer attorneys are voices of leadership on diversity issues working with the HBA-NJ, the New Jersey State Bar, County Bar Associations and other affinity bar associations statewide.

Mr. Carlos M. Bollar, a Partner in the firm’s Haddonfield office and Mr. Michael Plata, a Partner in the firm’s Hackensack office, have both served in recent years as President of the Hispanic Bar Association of New Jersey. Mr. Bollar served from 2015-2016 and Mr. Plata served from 2014-2015.

Archer & Greiner, P.C. is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and eight offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Red Bank, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, N.Y.; and Wilmington, Del. The firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for over 85 years. Each office provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law, including corporate, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.archerlaw.com.

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William P. Isele Installed as President of the Middlesex County Bar Association

William P. Isele, who is Of Counsel in the Princeton office of Archer & Greiner, P.C., was recently installed as President of the Middlesex County Bar Association (MCBA). His installation took place at the Bar Association’s Annual Installation Dinner Meeting on May 10, 2017 at Pierre’s of South Brunswick in Monmouth Junction.

Mr. Isele practices in the areas of Health Care Law, Elder Law and Government Agency Appeals. He has been active as a Trustee with the MCBA since 2009. He previously served as President of the Middlesex County Bar Foundation from 2014 – 2015. Mr. Isele has served as a Trustee of the Foundation since 2008.

Mr. Isele is a member of the American Bar Association and New Jersey State Bar Association. He has served as the Secretary of the New Jersey Supreme Court’s District VIII Fee Arbitration Committee (Middlesex) since 1994 and the District VII Fee Arbitration Committee (Mercer) since 2015. As Chair of the NJSBA Health Law Section, he was instrumental in advocating for passage of New Jersey’s Advance Directives for Health Care Act. As Chair of the NJSBA Elder & Disability Law Section, he was instrumental in advocating for the passage of New Jersey’s POLST legislation. Mr. Isele was honored by the NJSBA in 2009 with its Distinguished Legislative Service Award, and by the Health Law Section in 2013 with its Distinguished Service Award. Mr. Isele was also honored by Ryder University’s Law and Justice Program in 2014 for his “Distinguished Contributions to Law and Justice.”

Mr. Isele serves in leadership roles in several not-for-profit organizations. He is a member of the Board of LeadingAge New Jersey, and also a member of the Board of Central Jersey Legal Services, Inc. In past leadership roles, Mr. Isele was an officer of the National Association of State Ombudsman Programs, a past-President of the Board of the Princeton Senior Resource Center, and a Trustee of the New Jersey Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.

Prior to joining Archer & Greiner, Mr. Isele served as the New Jersey State Ombudsman for the Institutionalized Elderly, from 1998 to 2007.

Archer & Greiner, P.C. is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and eight offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Red Bank, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, N.Y.; and Wilmington, Del. The firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for over 85 years. Each office provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law, including corporate, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.archerlaw.com.

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Lloyd Freeman Named to South Jersey Biz “20 under 40” List

Lloyd Freeman, a Partner in the firm’s Haddonfield office, has been named to South Jersey Biz magazine’s prestigious “20 Under 40” list for 2017. Each year, South Jersey Biz honors 20 professionals under the age of 40 who have been changing the face of the local business community and are making an impact in South Jersey.

Mr. Freeman exemplifies characteristics and leadership qualities that have been intricate to his many roles in civic and charitable causes throughout the region, including currently serving as an Executive Board Member of Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) Independence Region, and as the incoming President of the Garden State Bar Association, among others. Mr. Freeman has said, “One of the best feelings in the world you will ever experience is when you are able to help someone else. I truly believe it is everyone’s responsibility to reach back and help pull others forward.”

BBBS Independence Region has benefitted greatly from Mr. Freeman’s experience and time he devotes to helping expand its programs and fundraisers. Specifically, he has inspired dozens of men to volunteer as mentors, a demographic that is in dire need.  Further, Mr. Freeman has donated hundreds of pro bono hours in legal services over the years to the agency, and served as emcee for countless BBBS fundraisers and community initiatives—essentially, he is an ambassador for the agency.

Mr. Freeman also serves as Chairman of the Burlington-Camden Achievement Foundation, which provides scholarships, other financial aid and leadership development training for qualified students. When asked by South Jersey Biz what his 10-year goal is, Mr. Freeman referred to the scholarship foundation stressing that in 10 years he wants the foundation to have awarded over $500,000 in aid to deserving students seeking a college education.

Mr. Freeman focuses his practice on commercial and complex civil litigation, litigation related to intellectual property and real estate transactions, and consumer fraud actions.

Archer & Greiner, P.C. is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and eight offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Red Bank, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, N.Y.; and Wilmington, Del. The firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for over 85 years. Each  office  provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law, including corporate, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.archerlaw.com.

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Steven Mignogna Presented Trust and Estate Law Seminars at NJSBA Convention

Steven K. Mignogna, a Partner in the firm’s Haddonfield office, served as a featured speaker at two seminars at the New Jersey State Bar Association Annual Meeting and Convention, recently held on May 17 – 19 at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City.

During the convention, Mr. Mignogna served as moderator and a speaker for Fiduciary Litigation Update, where he presented the latest trends in trust and estate law, especially from a litigation perspective, and highlighted significant cases and rulings from the last year. In his second seminar, Mr. Mignogna presented the New Jersey Uniform Trust Code (UTC) Update, which provided an overview of the UTC, including the new statute’s impact on trustees and their respective duties.

Mr. Mignogna focuses his practice on commercial litigation, with a concentration on probate matters, estates, fiduciaries, guardianships and real estate. He is Co-Chair of the firm’s Estates and Trusts Department and Chair of the Estate and Trust Litigation Group.

Mr. Mignogna has lectured and published extensively, both locally and nationally. He is principal author of the treatise, Estate and Trust Litigation, and editor and contributing author of The New Jersey Estate Planning Manual and The New Jersey Probate Procedures Book, all published by the New Jersey Institute for Continuing Legal Education.

Archer & Greiner, P.C. is a full-service regional law firm with more than 175 lawyers and eight offices in Haddonfield, Hackensack, Princeton, Flemington and Red Bank, N.J.; Philadelphia, Pa.; New York, N.Y.; and Wilmington, Del. The firm has been serving Fortune 100 clients, small to medium-sized businesses and individuals for over 85 years. Each office provides full-service litigation and transactional capabilities in nearly every area of law, including corporate, estate & trust, family & matrimonial, labor & employment, litigation, medical & personal injury, and real estate services. For more information, visit www.archerlaw.com.

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