Neil M. Zipkin, a mechanical engineer by training, assists clients in obtaining and enforcing mechanical and design patents, trademarks and copyrights; negotiating complex licenses, non-disclosure agreements and employment agreements; and monetizing their intellectual property rights.
He has litigated patent, trademark and copyright cases in federal courts throughout the United States and in state courts in New York and New Jersey. Recognizing that most cases in the intellectual property area are resolved by settlement, Mr. Zipkin is also certified as a mediator.
In the fashion and apparel industry, he represents clients on IP issues involving e-commerce and information systems as well as the design and distribution of merchandise. He won the landmark case establishing that designs incorporated into apparel could be protected by copyright, a case that went to the Second Circuit and set the standard for copyright infringement of designs in the clothing industry. In a recent reported case involving copyright and trade secrets, he represented a retailer in a dispute over the pricing algorithm used on an Internet site to undercut in real time the prices charged by a competitor.
Toys—especially the ones that interact, spin, light up, make noise, calculate and emit sound—are as interesting to a mechanical engineer/IP lawyer as they are to their intended audience. Patent, trademark and copyright issues abound. He represented the largest publisher of children’s books, including musical and sound books, in numerous cases where competitors attempted to infringe copyright, mechanical and design patents, and trademarks.
His experience encompasses products ranging from heavy manufacturing, consumer electronics, printing, food processing, decorative lighting, clothing, dental products and processes, chinaware and flatware, technical fabrics, air conditioner compressors installed in automobiles, boat hull designs, parachutes, home décor items to pickles—he was a key player in the pickle wars in lower Manhattan when a company bought the lease, but not the trademark GUSS’, for a store selling pickles, and proceeded to do business under that iconic brand name.
His advocacy enabled a china manufacturer to compete with an established manufacturer and distributor of china used in hotels following a dispute over whether a basket-motif design is protectable, a case that went to the U.S. Court of Appeals. He prevailed on summary judgment in a case in which he represented a manufacturer asserting its patent for “twinkling” holiday lights.
He was a key player in a complex dispute between the Communications Workers of America and Verizon and Verizon Wireless regarding the “can you hear me now” trademark; a dispute over which dressage horses may be called a “Holstein” horse; design patents over cell phone chargers; and method and business patents involved in the distribution of highly precise copiers relying on heat-transfer printing imported to the United States from Japan. Mr. Zipkin also represents clients before governmental agencies to prevent the importation of goods bearing counterfeit trademarks or copyrights.