In this assignment, you, in the role of a risk manager at Simply Green Products, will draft a document that is commonly used in the business world—a memorandum to your boss.
Simply Green Products is a $10 million company that produces biodegradable packing materials that orchards use in the Shenandoah Valley to transport their apples, peaches, and pears nationwide. Biodegradable materials are more eco-friendly because they break down into the environment. Such packing materials are marketed under the name “SafePack,” which is heavily advertised in trade journals. Simply Green Products have had the name “SafePack” imprinted on all of their packing material since 2008; however, they never filed for either state or federal trademark protection. With the movement toward more eco-friendly agricultural production, the fact that such packing materials are biodegradable provides a primary marketing advantage over non-biodegradable competitors.
The company president, Shep Howard, has recently become aware of several issues that may require referral to the company’s outside counsel. Because you serve as the company’s risk manager, Howard has asked you to leverage your legal and managerial skills to draft a memorandum that addresses one (1) of the two (2) situations described below:
- An environmental group is asserting that SafePack materials are not biodegradable. In fact, the group claims that these materials are causing an environmental hazard that is seeping from a local landfill into a nearby stream. An environmental group, SafePack Materials Pollute, has sprung up and launched an Internet campaign geared toward compelling fruit producers to stop purchasing your packing materials. The situation at hand raises environmental issues that relate to the Clean Water Act and the Solid Waste Disposal Act.
- A company called Safe Choices, Inc. has accused Simply Green Products of trademark infringement, and has sent a cease and desist letter to President Howard, demanding that Simply Green Products stop using the name “SafePack”. The letter asserts that a) Safe Choices uses the SafePack name to market an emergency weather kit in the form of a backpack; and that b) Safe Choices had received a federal registration for the mark from the Patent and Trademark Office in 2002. This backpack is sold both online at safepack.com and in sporting goods stores nationwide. The letter goes on to suggest that Simply Green Product's use of this name “constitutes a false designation of origin which is likely to confuse customers as to the source of the goods”. The intellectual property issue at hand involves the Lanham Act.
For one (1) of the two (2) situations set out above, write a three to four (3-4) page memorandum to President Howard. Ensure that you address each of the questions below within your memo so that President Howard may assess whether or not Simply Green Products needs to hire outside counsel to address the matter at hand.
- Discuss the elements that must be present in order for one to prove a valid claim under the law(s) specified (i.e., the Clean Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, or the Lanham Act).
- Determine whether or not the activity of Simply Green Products amounts to a violation of the applicable law (i.e., the Clean Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, or the Lanham Act). If you chose the environmental issue, determine whether or not seepage from your products into a stream would violate the Clean Water Act, the Solid Waste Disposal Act, or both. Explain your rationale. If you chose the intellectual property matter, determine whether or not continued use of the SafePack name by your company would violate the Lanham Act. Explain your rationale.
- Decide whether or not President Howard should refer this chosen matter to the company's outside counsel. Provide a rationale for your decision.
- Use at least three (3) high-quality academic references. As the cases discussed within the assignment are hypothetical, you will not find any solutions to them on the Internet. Further, note that Wikipedia, blogs, and such Websites as Free Dictionary do not qualify as academic resources, whereas your textbook does. Use the Strayer Learning Resource Center (LRC) to locate high-quality academic references.