With our partnership with Detroit-based Sommers Schwartz, PC, we represent persons who have been seriously injured or who have died due to the negligence of another person, malpractice or the existence of a defective product. We counsel clients on unique methods to settle their case in an effort to minimize the emotional difficulty often encountered in connection with these types of cases, while at the same time zealously advocating for and protecting our client’s interests. Whenever possible, we strive to resolve issues by agreement; however, we will effectively litigate those cases that cannot be settled.
Archive for May, 2014
Avanti Law Group can help you at all stages of your non-profit organization–from the forming of a non-profit organization to obtaining tax-exempt status from the IRS, to complying with federal and state laws governing fund-raising and operations. When you retain us to create the non-profit organization and obtain recognition from the IRS of its tax-exempt status, you are getting much more than documents. You receive a comprehensive consultation to make sure you understand formation and governance options. If you are considering forming a non-profit organization or you are managing a non-profit organization (such as 501(c)(3) as well as many organizations that are tax exempt under other categories of section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code, e.g., social welfare organizations exempt under 501(c)(4) and trade associations exempt under 501(c)(6)), we would welcome the opportunity to be of services to you.
We advise in regard to options for the formation of a new non-profit organization, draft the necessary documents to create the organization, and secure IRS recognition of tax-exempt status. We also provide state charitable solicitation registrations for 501(c)(3) organizations, as may be needed. These services are usually provided on a “fixed fee” basis.
Some of our services include:
- Formation (preparing all organizational documents, e.g. articles of incorporation, bylaws, trusts)
- Securing IRS Recognition of Tax-Exempt Status (IRS Forms 1023 and 1024)
- Advice as to IRS Form 990 (Annual Tax Information Return)
- State Regulatory Compliance
- Charitable Solicitation Registrations
- Tax Advice (Avoiding Unrelated Business Taxable Income; Maintaining Tax-Exempt Status)
- Facilities Acquisition
- Planned Giving (including Charitable Remainder Trusts and Charitable Gift Annuities)
- Capital Campaigns
- Advice Regarding and Review of Fundraising Agreements of All Types
- Intellectual Property Protection
- Representation in IRS Audits and Tax Controversies, Including In Tax Court
- Group Exemption Rulings
- Non-Profit Mail Permits
- Executive Compensation Planning
- Charitable Giving Generally (Both Lifetime and Testamentary)
- Corporate Sponsorship Agreements
- Royalty License Agreements
- Charitable Sales Promotion Agreements
Successful litigators know that document production and discovery management requires a well-planned and meticulous analysis of relevant documents as the only way to develop the key factual evidence and build the evidentiary foundation of a winning case.
Avanti’s Document review services are provided at the direction of, and for review by, attorneys. Our document review and litigation outsource service include:
- Electronic Document Review
- Hard Copy Document Review
- Audio and Media File Review
- Deposition Transcript Summaries
- Due Diligence Review
- Contract Review
Typical engagements include:
- Standard or subjective reviews for relevance, privilege, confidentiality and issue coding determinations.
- Evaluation of documents to determine relevant summary information, such as key topics of the case, important people, specific vocabulary and jargon, and important individual documents.
- Organization of collected documents.
- Legal Review of Spanish written documents
If you do not see the service you desire, please contact us to determine if we can assist you.
Avanti lawyers assist families and individuals in the development and implementation of estate plans that reflect their personal values, concerns, and goals. We give our clients peace of mind that their commitments to the most important people and institutions in their lives are met, while preserving control over their affairs and property when they are alive and well.
Some of the issues that we can help you address in your estate plan include (but are not limited to):
- Leaving a legacy for future generations
- Creating a succession plan for your family business
- Philanthropic giving
- Protecting your spouse and other loved ones
- Establishing a special needs trust
- Preserving your family values, history and dynasty
- Estate & gift tax planning
- Ensuring that you are protected and your wishes are followed if you become ill, injured or mentally incapacitated
- Distributing your property & other assets
- Living Will
- Durable Power of Attorney
- Living Trusts
- Irrevocable and revocable trusts
- Life insurance trusts
- Prenuptial agreements
- Financial and medical powers of attorney
We represent both landlord and tenants in eviction proceedings. When a party to a lease violates the lease, you are at risk. Our West Michigan landlord/tenant law attorneys will take quick and effective action on your behalf.
Eviction proceedings are precise and exacting. A small error can require starting the process again. If you have an eviction problem, our evictions attorney can help.
Last month I recounted how a top U.S. law firm had agreed to help shadowy Japanese interests try to portray the so-called Comfort Women – the sex slaves grotesquely abused by the Japanese Imperial Army in World War II – as no more than common prostitutes. As I pointed out, the case is totally toxic and no respectable law firm should have anything to do with it. The article has generated nearly 90,000 clicks, 5,500 Facebook shares, and countless supporting comments.
Now comes news that the law firm at the center of the firestorm, Chicago-based Mayer Brown, is withdrawing from the case. As reported in the Los Angeles Daily News, pressure from outraged Forbes readers helped tip the balance. Mayer Brown was probably also reacting to coruscating criticism from such well-informed legal experts as Ken White, a prominent Los-Angeles-based criminal attorney, and Marc Randazza, a First Amendment lawyer.
There is an important lesson here: although early hopes that the Internet would prove a powerful tool for good have been dashed, it still can be harnessed to further the cause of truth. In particular it can still help the ordinary decent American public win out at a time when many elite Americans have gone AWOL on Japanese neo-fascism.
This is where Caroline Kennedy comes in. The daughter of John F. Kennedy, she now serves as President Barack Obama’s ambassador to Japan. Few Americans have ever enjoyed a greater opportunity to address latter-day Japan’s Jekyll and Hyde complex. Unfortunately she has evidently been persuaded – no doubt against her better instincts – to show “mutual understanding” on various contentious U.S.-Japan issues, not least recent outrageous suggestions that the Japanese may “apologize” for Imperial Japan’s treatment of the Comfort Women. In plain terms, she has been all but silent.
More about Caroline Kennedy in a moment. First let’s complete the point about Mayer Brown. The firm’s Los Angeles office was somehow persuaded to represent two Japanese-Americans who contend that they will suffer “irreparable injury” from “feelings of exclusion, discomfort, and anger” if a statue in a park in Glendale, California is not removed. The statue was funded by Koreans and memorializes the Comfort Women’s rather more acute pain. The Japanese-Americans are joined in the suit by an organization called the Global Alliance for Historical Truth-US.
Although it is, of course, not unusual for even the most respectable of U.S. law firms to press bogus lawsuits, two aspects of the Comfort Women suit have proved particularly embarrassing for Mayer Brown:
The involvement of the Global Alliance for Historical Truth-US. Incorporated as recently as February 6, the alliance gives its address as a UPS office and is little more than a legal fiction. The really controversial part is that its name has been evidently chosen so it would be confused with a very different entity, the Global Alliance for Preserving the History of WWII in Asia. This latter is a long-established, entirely respectable scholarly group founded by Chinese-American professors that is on the other side of the Comfort Women argument.
The toxic wording of the lawsuit. The essence of the suit is that the Comfort Women were common prostitutes. Here is the offending paragraph: “During World War II and the decade leading up to it, an unknown number of women from Japan, Korea, China, and a number of nations in Southeast Asia, were recruited, employed, and/or otherwise acted as sexual partners for troops of the Japanese Empire in various parts of the Pacific Theater of war. These women are often referred to as comfort women, a loose translation of the Japanese word for prostitute.” This paragraph makes no concession to the incontrovertible historical fact – admitted even in a statement of apology by the Japanese government in 1993 – which thousands of innocent women forced into sexual servitude. In the case of Dutch women captured in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), a post-war court operating on Western rules of evidence sentenced one Japanese army officer to execution and eleven Japanese citizens to imprisonment on Comfort Women allegations.
As for Caroline Kennedy, in late February she was handed a perfect opportunity to bring some intellectual honesty to the Comfort Women debate. This came when the New York Times, in an article headed “Japan to Revisit Apology to Wartime Sex Slaves,” reported that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government was considering cancelling the 1993 apology. The report was published a week after Mayer Brown had filed the Glendale suit. While it would not have been appropriate for Kennedy to have criticized Mayer Brown directly, she could have announced that any move by Japan to “unapologize” would be viewed with dismay in the United States. The implications would have been hard for any decent person at Mayer Brown to overlook.
That said, we should not be too hard on Caroline Kennedy. No matter how capable and wise she may be (and no matter how many doors a famous name may open for her), she can do little without the support of embassy officials in Tokyo. Unfortunately most of her staff are, to put it politely, conscious apologists for the Japanese establishment. Their job, as they see it, is to tamp down American anger anytime anything provocative emerges from Japan. They reflexively oppose any instinct by an ambassador to stand up for truth and decency, and it would take a uniquely strong ambassador to ride roughshod over them.
This is not to say that U.S. ambassadors have not occasionally tried to break free of their minders. Indeed in a widely reported tweet in January, Kennedy protested Japanese cruelty to dolphins. For anyone who knows the Tokyo diplomatic world, however, Kennedy’s dolphin intervention is a case of “close but no cigar.” The difference between dolphins and Comfort Women is that the former don’t have relatives who might claim for massive compensation. In Tokyo money is what matters, and the U.S. embassy has for generations connived with the Japanese establishment in heading off all efforts by Imperial Japan’s victims and their families to seek monetary redress for World War II atrocities. Apart from the Comfort Women, other notable victims of this policy have been U.S. servicemen who have never received more than derisory compensation for brutal treatment in Japanese POW camps.
Building on the success of the 2013 IP Conference series, ALB held its inaugural Japan IP Conference on April 15, 2014, attracting more than 100 of Japan’s leading senior counsel, brand protection experts, IP managers and litigators to the heart of Tokyo’s Akasaka business district. Supported by Thomson Reuters IP & Science, Baker & McKenzie, UBIC, the Asia-Pacific IP Association, the Roppongi Bar Association, the Japan In-House Counsel Network and the American Chamber of Commerce Japan, the event conveyed ALB’s continued presence in Japan as an international media and knowledge platform bridging local, regional and global expertise.
Aligned with the Japan Patent Office’s (JPO) objective of “achieving the world’s fastest and highest quality IP system,” Commissioner Hideo Hato opened the conference explaining how international IP harmonization initiatives are embedded into the government’s Japan Revitalizations Strategy and the subsequent strengthening of the Design, Trademark and the Patent Attorney Acts.
The stretch of government keynotes continued with a presentation from one of ALB’s most loyal supporters, Director-General Peter Cheung of the HK IP Department. Cheung gave an update on the IP exchange initiative, reiterating the important collaboration efforts with government and industry leaders in Hong Kong, Japan, Korea and across the region. He surprised delegates by concluding his speech with an impromptu song on IP monetization, hinting on his next career move after his impending retirement from the public sector this month.
The World IP Organization’s (WIPO) Japan representative Masaki Okamoto offered delegates an insight into Japan’s significant contribution to WIPO’s global services such as the free patent search system PATENTSCOPE or the CASE initiative, enabling the safe exchange of search and examination documentation related to patent applications. With the launch of the GREEN and Research projects, WIPO is also pioneering IP management as a means to sustainability and healthcare development.
WIPO’s inter-governmental guidelines were well complemented by the subsequent industry case studies. Toyotaka Abe showed that Microsoft, as an owner of a large pool of patent rights, is the perfect example of how market leadership can be sustained in the technology field with the creation of clear IP transaction guidelines covering IP licensing, purchase and sale as well as the transfer of IP rights.
Another interesting group of sessions followed featuring government, industry and academic standpoints surrounding Standard Essential Patents (SEPs) and Fair, Reasonable and Non-Discriminatory (FRAND) licensing. Professor Shuya Hayashi of Nagoya University pointed out the anti-competitive impact of patent hold-ups and royalty stacking using the Apple vs. Samsung case and advised against injunctive relief in case of FRAND litigation. Qualcomm’s vice-president of Patents, George Whitten, in turn, provided an overview of the ICT industry, arguing that while the issue exists, there is no substantial empirical evidence of the aforementioned patent infringements, neither of their adverse economic effects.
Commissioner Hiroyuki Odagiri of the Japan Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) has gave a detailed rundown on JFTC`s extensive work in reconciling reasonable IP monetization and innovation with fair competition practices. JFTC has pioneered the standardization of patent pool arrangements, guarding the fragile benefits of standard-setting including quicker product commercialization and customer convenience, while acting on antitrust concerns, the type of issues voiced by Whitten and Hayashi. This has been evidenced by JFTC’s numerous enforcement actions including the cases of the Pachinko Manufacturing Patent Pool’s, Hokkaido Shimbun Press’, Microsoft’s and Qualcomm’s monopolistic activities as well as the IP merger of the Tokyo Stock Exchange Group and the Osaka Stock Exchange.
Following a morning dominated by discussions surrounding hard IP, the afternoon focused on soft IP matters with an overarching theme of brand protection and anti-counterfeiting. In the digital piracy panel discussion, KT Ang of IFPI Asia gave an overview of the challenges faced by the global entertainment industry and the various counter piracy methods available to including advertising, litigation and website blocking. Joe Welch of 21st Century Fox took this one step further, arguing that the obsolete “notice and take-down” approach should be strengthened with the blocking of “overseas egregious rogue (pirate) sites” and downgrading and delisting penalties imposed by search engines. Using the examples of the EU and the cases of The Pirate Bay and Grooves hark, both Ang and Welch agreed that right holders should be able to apply for injunctive relief, essentially requiring Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to take blocking action without exposing them to liability to infringement. Yoichiro Hata of the Recording Industry Association of Japan showed an even higher standard adopted by Japan with the Amended Copyright Law, which effectively criminalizes the act of downloading music and/or motion pictures with knowledge of the illegal nature of the source and legal pay-for alternatives.