Commercial real estate owners put an incredible amount of trust into tenants and their businesses. Not only do they trust the tenants will pay their rent on time, but real estate owners also must trust that the tenants have a profitable business that will continue to bring in revenue. Delinquent tenants cause heavy amounts of stress to the owner and can lead to problems like having to make late mortgage payments. Now, commercial real estate owners also need to take heed of a tenant’s business to prevent legal repercussions caused by tenant trademark infringement. Proceeding with a commercial real estate lawyer is a good idea for any owner.
Being responsible for a tenant’s copyright or trademark infringement may seem unfair considering it isn’t the owner directly committing the crime, but many popular brands are taking stronger legal action to protect their intellectual property. Making yourself a more informed owner by understanding possible risks of infringement, will result in you less likely becoming a victim of tenants whose business centers around trademark infringement.
Increase In Brand Infringement
Commercial real estate owners have recently had to become more vigilant as more cases of brand infringement are brought to court. One of the most recent cases was Omega v. 375 Canal, LLC. In early March of this year, Omega, Swatch, and several other well-known brands were awarded a total of $1.1 million when the companies were able to prove the tenants were selling counterfeit products under the affected brands’ trademarks and the owners of 375 Canal were aware of the sales due to being notified of the arrests by the plaintiffs which occurred in 2010 and 2011.
The owners insisted they had taken heed of the situation and removed the tenants from the premises, but investigators were able to buy knock-off products using the brands’ trademarks at the same site the following year. This made them liable for allowing the sale of fake trademarks and owing $275,000 of the $1.1 million awarded. This was not the first time 375 Canal had come under fire for trademark infringement, after becoming legally obligated to refuse to continue to sell fake Louis Vuitton items in 2006, among other similar claims.
Infringement In Florida
Areas in southern Florida, such as Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, and Broward, are hotspots for counterfeit goods due to the number of products imported every day. Combine this with the number of businesses wanting to make a large profit on counterfeit items and the number of people wanting to save money on items that look like the real thing, Florida is the perfect place for infringement on copyrights. In fact, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officers at the Port of Tampa seized over $4.25 million in fakes in 2018 alone, while in the Fiscal Year 2017, CBP officers captured $1.2 billion nationwide – though that’s merely a fraction of what comes through every year.
How To Protect Your Real Estate
Though commercial real estate owners are highly vigilant when seeking out businesses and tenants, it is a good idea to enlist the help of a real estate lawyer. This is especially important in Florida as the state does not have as much protective legislation for commercial real estate as it does for private. As a commercial owner, it is important to have a lawyer familiar with real estate as they:
- Look Out For You: Your lawyer will help you go over leases and business agreements to ensure they include the right terminology and consequences to prevent or handle tenants who may sell counterfeit products.
- Keep You Informed: Commercial real estate law can be confusing as it is often changing. Your lawyer will be able to inform you on new or changed laws while also advising you what your obligations and rights as an owner are within the legal system.
- Protection: Commercial real estate lawyers can help owners take heed of a tenant’s business by providing protection against them being liable for illegal activity within a business. While the tenants may face criminal charges, the lawyer can prove the owner had no previous knowledge of the tenant’s wrongdoings.
Gary I. Handin, P.A. has been helping commercial real estate owners take heed of their tenants’ businesses for 50 years. If you have questions about protecting yourself against tenants infringing on intellectual property or brand infringement, call Handin Law today at 1-877-815-4560.