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Can I Change a Trademark After It Is Registered? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 10/28/11

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On Tuesdays and Fridays, attorney Joe Escalante answers legal questions for free on the LegalZoom Facebook Page. Did you miss the last Free Joe? Don’t worry. We’ve got it all right here.

Janice: Hey Joe, I have a tenant I did a Complaint in summary ejectment (court date was Oct 25th & tenant didn’t show so no money judgment) because of non-payment of rent in Oct. Tenant placed ad on Craigslist Oct 5th for roommate who paid tenant directly (I didn’t know about it til sublet called me after the fact) So tenant made $175 in Oct and Landlord made 0. What legal recourse would you recommend ?(I live in NC) Isn’t this criminal? He owes me Oct thru Jan rent & repayment of Feb rent (incentive 1st months rent free only if they stay thru lease) Thanks for any advice you can give me.

Joe Escalante: I don’t see why there wasn’t money judgment at the trial, but it’s not too late to bundle it all together in one small claims action. The $175 is called unjust enrichment. Tenant is obviously not entitled to it.

Kathryn: Joe my daughter’s boyfriend has a little girl 5 yrs old who he has taken care of her entire life except when her drug addict mom wanted her. The mom just got send to prison and her parents now has the little girl. He wants to know what rights he has to her. He is listed on her birth certificate as her father but it has not been legalized. Does he have the right to take the little girl to live with him or does he have to go another route? Thanks..the little girl is really upset because she doesn’t really know her grandparents which is a real shame but she wants her daddy!

Joe Escalante: Without a court order removing custody from him, it seems he should have full custody. It could get ugly, so he has to make sure he’s really recognized as the father. He should go to the child protective services department in the county where the kid lives and let them know what he plans to do so he doesn’t end up getting charged with felony kidnapping.

Gilbert: Is theres other. Ways to,hold title in property besides a deed

Joe Escalante: There is a funky way to get title to property called adverse possession. That is when you squat on some land that no one is using. You pay taxes on it for a period of time, exert control over its boundaries, then claim as yours though……wait for it…..adverse possession. That’s all I can think of at the moment.

Jeff: Hey Joe, What are the best precautions to take when marketing a patented product. What language/topics are most important to include in NDAs and/or No Compete agreements? Thank you.

Joe Escalante: If you have a patent, you can throw caution to the wind, to a certain extent. For NDAs, you want to make sure above all that the document is enforceable. That means don’t make it overly broad. Same with a non-compete. It can protect reasonable interests only. If it is ruled to be over-reaching to the point that it prevents someone from earning a living, it will be struck down in court. It’s a fine line.
Check out the forms in Legalzoom’s business forms section. They are solid and enforceable.

LegalZoom: Here’s a link to the forms, Jeff: http://www.legalzoom.com/legalforms/home.html

Connie: When I got divorced it was set up so we alternated years to claim the kids at tax time. He is not only estranged from the children now, but he also began receiving disability benefits early this year (and is now unable to work). How can I legally claim them every year now??

Joe Escalante: You have to modify the divorce decree or court order. You can do that by petitioning the court where it all started. Good luck.

Queen: How difficult is it to start a 501(c) 3 in California and how long does it take to make a non-profit a 501(c) 3? Thank you Joe!

Joe Escalante: It’s quite time consuming and can take months depending on how diligent you are. Have legalzoom help you, but check out this alternative to forming your own 501 c 3 that may work for some people / projects: http://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=246384878744453&id=189755787713174

Lorretta: my question is :i’ve been takin care of my 5 yr old grand daughter since birth i was helpin her mom but the father never came forth here it is he get soc sec. check ea month and his mother is the payee can i sue her for money that i had to take care of the child he’s 22 now she do not give him any of his money and i want my money back

Joe Escalante: You could do this, but it would involve paying an attorney quite a bit of money. You could attempt to do it yourself but it will be difficult. And if she has no assets, it will be hard to enforce any judgment you get against her. But you have a right to try. If you do it yourself, the term is acting “pro se” or without an attorney, this will help you search the internet for self help resources.

Micheal: Joe, What information do I need to include in a Petition for Concursus? I am being listed as a defendant on this suit in addition to the hospitals and Drs. My granddaughter was killed in an automobile accident and the owner only had $15,000 in liability and bills are almost $80,000. Thanks

Joe Escalante: That is a very state-specific document for freaky Louisiana and their kinky Napoleonic code. I haven’t a clue. More importantly, I don’t understand how you are ending up as the defendant.

Kenneth: Hi Joe, Quick question. Do I need to have an attorney if I want to file a Motion for Contempt on a Divorce Mediation Agreement? Funds are low and was wondering what the lowest cost method would be. Thanks for your help and have a great halloween weekend.

Joe Escalante: People file these things “pro se” (without an attorney) all the time. Of course it’s better to have a great attorney, but it’s not absolutely necessary.

Lorraine: Hi Joe. Do I need an estate attorney to help my mom put her house in a trust for her 4 adult children? I know the medicaid law and feel this needs to be done asap.

Joe Escalante: You do not need one actually and you are in the right place. Get the legalzoom stuff and get started. It’s pretty simple. Click the link below.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Lorraine: http://www.legalzoom.com/living-trusts/living-trusts-overview.html

Kimberly: My nephew is fighting for custody of his daughter, he has residential custody. His ex wife has a boyfreind that tried to hurt his daughter. They told her he couldn’t be around the daughter. She still insists on having him around her. Now the daughter has said that he hit her in the head. Can my nephew keep her from going to her mother’s until their final hearing in December? HOw does he get the judge to listen to him so he can fill her in on what’s happening? Does he have to file a motion or can he just do in and talk to her?

Joe Escalante: He has to go to family court and file an Emergency Protective Order to remove the kid from harms way.

Cathy: I was awarded (2) Small Claims Court Judgment in Sacramento Superior Court in November, 2009 – one was for $6,000 against a bogus Loan Modification Company in Orange County and the other was against a bad check written by a customer in the amount of $598.00. I turned both these awards over to a Judgment Collector in Orangevale, CA in October, 2010 – He went to Sacramento Court and had the judgments assigned to his company and since then have heard nothing from him – he doesn’t answer any of my emails or phone calls. What can I do now? and will I ever be able to collect on these (2) judgments?

Joe Escalante: Wow, what a mess. I would try going to the same court to have those judgments reverted back to you. He will need to be served and then he will either show up, or default, then you win, theoretically. Good luck.

Chris: Hello Joe. If I sell a car in the state of Washington and have all the proper documentation that it was sold and that car is used in a hit and run after the fact, will I be held liable in anyway? Even if it’s only a few days after it was sold and the title has not bee transfered by the state yet?

Joe Escalante: If there’s no one else to sue, the victims may give it a try, but it sounds like it would be easy to establish that you are not liable. When I say easy, I mean like only $5,000 to an attorney to handle this for you. That’s how it works sometimes.

Daniel: I have registered trademark that includes a “map” .. if I move an island on the map 1″ do I have to refile the trademark

Is there a discount for refiling “an adjustment?”

Joe Escalante: If it doesn’t materially alter the mark, it may be quite simple to amend the registration. check out this link: http://teasroa.uspto.gov/ppa/

Jonathan: If I work for a manufactiring company and they only pay me 10 an hour….but they make me bring my own tools and tool box…aren’t they suppose to suply them..??..hand tool sockets, wreches, screwdrivers etc etc..??

Joe Escalante: That depends your agreement to work for them. It sounds like they are trying to classify you as an independent contractor. That is legal if you accept it.

Susanna: I am waiting for my trademark from the government. Once I have it, do I have to put the TM after it when I use it? What would be an infringement on the trademark–if someone is using the same name or the same logo? Does it depend on whether someone was using it before I got my trademark?

Joe Escalante: TM is optional regardless of whether you register. A ® is allowed only after registration. Trademark is governed by usage; the first to use is granted protection. However, you only have protection in your class. If you have Susanna Shoes, someone can still trademark Susanna Sox, etc.

Tamala: Hi I am going throu a divorce and wanted to know if we can do joint coustody even if we are in two differnet states?

Joe Escalante: Yes. That’s what airplanes are for. It’s probably not the greatest thing for the kids, but you don’t need me to tell you that.

Kathryn: Hi Joe you answered a question for me ealier abt the father and his litle girl. You said he should go to the Child Protective Services. Ok even though he has not been legalized as her father but is on her birth certificate he has the right to take her. Just want to make sure I understand you. Thanks for the answer!

Joe Escalante: From your skeletal scenario, it seem to me that he would be asking for trouble if he just took her without talking to the authorities in the county.

That’s a wrap for Free Joe! More free legal advice next week–come join us then! http://zoo.mn/FreeJoe And don’t forget to check out Barely Legal Radio w/ Joe Escalante on Facebook.

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November 1st, 2011 at 5:58 am