LegalZoom Blog

Legal news and small business tips.

Is it Legal to Put “TM” on Your Logo Before You Register the Trademark?

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Joe EscalanteIs it legal to put a TM on your logo before you apply to register the trademark? Thanks!

Cathy Rundell

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

You can use trademark symbol (™) even when your product is not registered, but you are asserting trademark rights. That’s fine. You can even use the service mark symbol (℠) for unregistered services, although this is rarely used and will make people think you are a bit weird. Registered trademarks and service marks are indicated using the registered trademark symbol (®). In some jurisdictions it is unlawful or illegal to use the ® symbol with a mark which has not been registered, so be careful with that one.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

November 26th, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Can You Be Whited Out of a Will?

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Joe EscalanteWhen my father died, he had a will. But I didnt attend his funeral. My stepmother whited my name out of the will and excluded me. What can I do to receive what was left to me from my father?

Khametica Aspired

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

Sorry to hear about this Khametica. The proper procedure would be to petition the court with jurisdiction over the estate to contest the validity of the will. It’s hard to imagine a will with white-out being judged valid, but if no one stepped forward to raise any issues with it the ship may have sailed. It all depends on how much time has passed and what was done in that time. If the will looked terrible and invalid, the court would throw it out and use what are called “intestate succession” laws to distribute the funds. That’s what they do when there is no will at all. In most cases, without a will the court would award all your father’s stuff to his evil bride. It’s up to you to contest the will and demonstrate that your father’s true wishes were to leave property to you. If you don’t do this, and the estate is formally probated, which takes a year or two, then the ship has sailed and there’s not much you can do unless you can prove fraud. You could prove fraud maybe if she really did use the will with white-out in it, but it would be an uphill battle. Good luck.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

November 26th, 2014 at 3:48 pm

How Do I Protect My Idea?

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Joe Escalante

I have an idea that I want to take into production and protect that idea…how do I go about it?

Garry Edwards

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

Hi Garry. If you are talking about something that might qualify for patent protection, I would check into filing for provisional patent protection. That will give you a year to prepare your utility or design patent application and gives you the immediate right to label your product “patent pending.”

However, if it’s not patentable, e.g. if it’s an idea for a movie, or a song, or some other kind of creative “idea” there is no protection available for it in copyright or patent law.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

October 21st, 2014 at 11:47 am

How Do I Stop My Ex’s New Partner from Posting Photos of My Child?

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Joe Escalante

Please help me, I was wondering if there’s anything I could do law-wise to stop my ex-husband’s new partner from posting pictures of our son on her Facebook? She’s posting pictures of him with comments such as “our beautiful boy.” I know my ex-husband has no problem with this as it’s his partner but I find it hurtful and offensive. That’s my son and I know she posts these pictures to get my back up. Please help me.

Sarah Bargainkidstuff

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

In most cases it only takes one parent to be able to consent to the posting of pictures of minor children in public. However, if you took the picture you are the author for purposes of copyright so you could object on copyright grounds. You could also petition the court to enjoin your ex-husband from posting pictures on Facebook but that would be hard to get for a variety of reasons. But if you did petition the court to change custody in this way it might be such a bother for the woman and your ex that they just agree to not do it anymore. But the bottom line is that if you have shared custody, the father can consent to stuff like this.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

October 17th, 2014 at 6:19 pm

Is it Better to Have a Will or a Living Trust?

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Joe EscalanteIs it better to have a will or a living trust?

Bernadine Anderson

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

The main reason most people establish a trust is so that their property will pass to their heirs without going through the cumbersome process of “probate” with the courts.

If you don’t have any houses, or don’t have any kids, it’s not that important. A will can suffice.

However, if you have houses and kids, it’s wise to protect them from having to wait so long and spend so much money until they get the property you want them to have. To do that, you need to place your property in a trust. When you die, the trust will live on and “give” your property to your heirs.

If you have a spouse, but no kids, your house may just transfer to your spouse automatically when you die if it is held as a joint tenancy with rights of survivorship (as opposed to “tenants in common.”) Make sure you check out how your property is held. It makes a big difference.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

September 30th, 2014 at 3:19 pm

Posted in Free Joe

Is an LLC the Best Structure for a Small Business?

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Joe EscalanteHow do I know LLC is the best structure for my small business? Assuming I won’t have staff for at least 18 months and I’ll be working from my home and driving to customers to provide them with their desired service.

Roland Paguirigan

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

This question is best answered by your tax professional. Remember, an LLC in many states has a minimum tax level you must pay even if you are making zero dollars. In California, that is $800.00.

You might be better off starting as a sole proprietorship with some liability insurance and then move to an LLC or corp. down the road when your tax advisor feels it’s time. Get your tax person on board ASAP because an LLC is a great entity, but it has to be the right time. Good luck.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

September 30th, 2014 at 2:55 pm

Posted in Free Joe

Can I Break My Lease and Sue for a Gnat Infestation?

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Joe EscalanteHi Joe,

We want to break our lease. Can we sue for rent and deposit if we have a gnat infestation? What if they don’t refund?

Shavonda Highlyfavored Wiggins

 

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

You have a right to receive what was promised in any bargain you enter into. You bargained for a home. There is an implied warranty of habitability you can rely on. If the infestation is so bad that a judge or jury would not find it reasonable for you to stay there, then your landlord has breached their warranty of habitability and you may be entitled to break the lease and perhaps damages that might include rent and deposit, but it’s a question of degree. I.e., it depends on how bad it was.

If the amount qualifies for small claims jurisdiction in your area, I would give it a shot if the gnats were really bad. If not, I would just be happy getting out of the lease. Good luck.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

September 2nd, 2014 at 9:01 am

Posted in Legal News

What Disclaimer Do I Need to Put on My Facebook Group Page?

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Joe Escalante Hi Joe, “I’m creating a FB group where residents in our town can post various things like appliance reviews, pets lost in other communities, products available nationally, how to advice, etc. Is there a disclaimer that I (the administrator) can write (re. not accepting responsibility for the accuracy of postings, transactions, etc.) that would be legally binding?”

Sharon Ellen Burtman

 

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

For years, courts held that website operators were not responsible for things like defamatory statements posted on a forum where users can post. However, in 2013 a case held that the opposite may be true in some circumstances.

http://www.hklaw.com/…/two-federal-cases-hold-website…/

There’s no magic disclaimer that I could give you that would adequately suit your needs unless I was able to look at your site and see the kinds of things you are worried about and the process one goes through to be a member of your on-line community, among other things.

However, my advice is this. Google ‘website disclaimer’ and read some that are out there. Try to modify one to suit your needs and then hire an attorney and show him what you’ve got so far. If you do this kind of leg work, you will save some money. I’m assuming you don’t want to spend any money because it’s just a free service you are providing, but litigious people and creepy lawyers have made sure that no good deed goes unpunished in this society unfortunately.

 

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

September 2nd, 2014 at 8:56 am

My Insurance Company Refuses to Repair Damage to My Car, What Can I Do About It?

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Joe EscalanteHi Joe,

My auto insurance company refused to repair a damaged section of my car that was included in accident coverage. What kind of action can I take against them?

Neco Bonner

 

 

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

Technically it’s called “insurance bad faith” and there are lawyers who specialize in it, but it will be impossible to get one to take it unless we’re talking about a $300,000 car or something like that. So small claims court might be the venue for you. That can be very effective.

Check your local county and state court websites for more information.

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

July 29th, 2014 at 10:52 am

Posted in Free Joe

How Does a Non-Disclosure Agreement Protect My Ideas?

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Joe EscalanteHi Joe,

How does a non-disclosure agreement work? I want to share my idea with someone.

Keith Smith

 

Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante

It works like this:

The party you are trying to get to sign your NDA will promise not to reveal anything they discover while you share your information with them. It doesn’t cover stuff they already knew, however, just stuff they discover and didn’t know already before they signed the NDA and were exposed to your information.

Check out the LegalZoom non-disclosure agreement. I have used it myself. It’s solid.

https://www.legalzoom.com//legalforms/mutual-nondisclosure-agreement

Attorney Joe Escalante answers your legal questions for free on our Facebook page every Tuesday and Friday at 10 a.m. PT.

 

Disclaimer: Communications between you and LegalZoom are protected by our Privacy Policy but not by the attorney-client privilege or as work product. LegalZoom provides access to independent attorneys and self-help services at your specific direction. We are not a law firm or a substitute for an attorney or law firm. We cannot provide any kind of advice, explanation, opinion, or recommendation about possible legal rights, remedies, defenses, options, selection of forms or strategies. Your access to the website is subject to our Terms of Use.

Written by Joe Escalante

July 29th, 2014 at 10:44 am

Posted in Free Joe