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Can I Copyright Multiple Works at Once? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 6/29/12

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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.

Lisa: Do I have to pay for each art work I file? Or can I just put all my art work together and pay one price? Speaking for my fashion company

Joe Escalante: I’m assuming you are registering art with the U.S. Copyright Office. You can put your art in a collection and register the collection of art for “one price.” Just name the collection something like “Lisa’s 2012 Fashion Concepts.”


Joe Escalante: Expungement is a difficult process and requires the hiring of a good criminal defense attorney experienced in the field almost always. Employers really want to know about people’s records. You might even say they have a right to know. You will have to at least hire someone in Ohio. Sorry.

Norma: do I need a design or utility provisional patent on a product that I have re-designed and made for a whole different purpose?

Joe Escalante: You don’t need one, but you may get protection from one under some circumstances. New Use Patents, Improvement Patents, etc. They are often granted. You can even get a patent for an innovation that provides a new use for an existing invention. Back in 2000, the Federal Circuit allowed a patent for the idea of using Bag Balm — an ointment normally used to soothe irritated cow udders — to treat human baldness. The court found it patentable, because it’s a new use of a known composition.

Jason: Question for Joe Escalante: Can I take legal action or am I just having a knee-jerk overly-protective-parent reaction here? This past Sunday, we took our 5 year old daughter and 6 year old son to see a 10am showing of “Brave” at AMC Firewheel in Garland, TX. They messed up by having the entirely wrong movie and previews loaded in our auditorium and subjected a theater full of unsuspecting parents and children previews for movies like “Sinister”. If you’re unfamiliar, Sinister is about a pagan demon that feeds primarily on the souls of children. When several of us went to complain, they tried to make it ok by giving us free passes to another movie. Those free passes don’t help when you’re trying to comfort your kids and calm them from being so terrified in the middle of the day. Needless to say, there hasn’t been much sleep in our house the last two nights and there have been lots of questions to answer about what they saw and heard in that theater. Thanks for your input.

Joe Escalante: You have a case against AMC. I’m not sure what kind of damages you could recover from an honest mistake, probably only actual damages. If it was done with some kind of malice, only then could you get punitive damages in my opinion. Try to find out how this trailer lawsuit was resolved. It’s not really on point, but it’s the only one I could find at the moment.

Kimberly: Hi Joe! I have a friend who want to get a divorce, with no children or property involved, is this going to be a costly maneuver?

Joe Escalante: If both parties can agree on how to split community assets and move forward, it’s a perfect case for Legalzoom. Otherwise, the lawyers are going to get all the money. Click below and check it out.

LegalZoom: Here you go, Kimberly:

Karen: 4 years ago or about, I went into a business deal with a gentleman who is the father of a mentally disabled person. I am a mentally disabled person too. He didn’t keep his end of the deanin front of witnesses and I became suicidal iver him keeping my $3,240.00 cash. Can I sue and get my money back? I have been permanently mentally disabled since 2005.

Joe Escalante: If you have evidence of a contract, you can file your lawsuit in Small Claims Court in your area. It’s quite simple and they will get to the bottom of this.

Candi: Is it legal for employers to video tape their employees without the employees consent?

Joe Escalante: I’m going to say yes.

Tippy: What is the correct way to tell the Court that a Police Officer is a liar and providing false information politely.

Joe Escalante: Use words like disingenuous, honestly mistaken, incorrect recollection, etc.

Jeffrey: What are the advantages of an Incorporation versus a LLC? I currently own a sole proprietorship and I have acquired some assets that I need to protect. What is the best legal structure and why?

Joe Escalante: From a legal standpoint, they both provide the same protection for your personal assets. So it comes down to two things. 1. What your tax lady advises. 2. How lazy you are. (An LLC is much, much easier to create and maintain.)

Ashtin: i got two questions one my son is 10 months old and weighs 23.9 pounds and is like 2 and a half feet tall almost its mens him to be in an upright carseat thats front facing right and what is the professional way for a job to let you go?

Joe Escalante: Let’s start with the job. The professional way is by meeting with you in person, and providing you with 2 weeks notice or at least 2 weeks severance if they need you to get the heck out immediately.
Legally, they probably don’t have to pay severance. They just have to pay you on the spot in some states, before you leave.
Regarding the baby. I would talk to a local law enforcement officer about your car seat. See what they say. They’re the ones that are going to ticket you if you are pulled over.

Shahram: whats the process of an expungement?

Joe Escalante: It’s long, expensive, and quite rare. It’s not a right, and it varies wildly from state to state. Generally, the process begins with a Petition to the Court for an “Order To Expunge.”

Dustin: Are grants for first time business owners, minorities, or low-income individuals a myth? Can you get one for a business that isn’t a non-profit or for research? Where is the best place to find grants that aren’t a scam? Thank you.

Joe Escalante: Generally, and grants you find out about at the Small Business Administration are not going to be scams. They may be hard to get, but they will be real. Check it out.
And remember, Kickstarter is something people mention when they want to get you out of their office.

Lafamilia: How much does a business attorney usually charge?

Joe Escalante: I charge $300 per hour in Los Angeles. That’s about average. It gets lower in some turd towns.

Jennifer: Question: what grounds would i have to sue someone in civil court in CA…my daughter was mauled by a dog last yr, the owner of the dog is paying attorney fees for the father (who she was in the care of at the time of the mauling)…hes paying for an attorney for family court for him (custody/visitation) based on what i believe the father is extorting the owner of the dog (orignally the owner hired the attorney for him becuz the child was in his care at the time of the mauling and CPS was involved..but the dog owner is still paying attorney fees over a year later..the dog mauling has been handled in fam court already)…now the owner has never offered to pay attorney fees for me and i feel that is a bit unfair becuz we both have 50/50 custody of the child…… the dog owner, is a friend of the father too…I have taken upon myself to get a personal injury attorney for the injuries to the child but family court i cant afford one….Would i have grounds to sue for this?

Joe Escalante: The guy with the dog can only pay damages to one entity. You are better off addressing this income that your ex is receiving in the divorce process.

Holly: Sis & I inherit parents home. Sis stops paying for expenses (taxes, HOA fees, maint etc.) I present letter of offer on house. She refuses & says she wants to sell outright. I say I have first rights (deed is Tenants in Common). Short of partitioning estate what other options do I have? How can I recoup expenses?

Joe Escalante: You can sue her in court to recover the expenses she owes. Try to do it before it gets too big to be in small claims.
If your sister is violating the express written terms of your co-tenancy agreement, then she is in breach and you could block the sale to a third party. However, she can probably file a petition for a forced partition sale to get back at you, so be careful. A lot of this depends on the language of your agreement.

Lisa: For my fashion company logo should I file for a trademark or copyright it?

Joe Escalante: Trademark

Charlie: When is it okay for police to enter your home with-out a search warrant and you nor anyone else gave them permission?

Joe Escalante: They can do this anytime they feel it is necessary to maintain public safety. However, if they do it without a warrant, they wont be able to get any of your pot plants admitted into evidence in a trial. That’s how that works.

Kate: How do we start the patent process for a new business concept?

Joe Escalante: I would start with a provisional patent. That gives you the right to label it as “patent pending.” Then you can start speaking with patent attorneys to see if it all is really doable. Click below:

LegalZoom: Here you go, Kate:

Nancy: question for Mr Escalante… We are renting our home with the option to buy. It is possible that the renters will not be able to buy the house at the end of the contract. What are your suggestions?

Joe Escalante: The problem is that if you put the house up for sale now because you know they are going to flake, you may be in breach of your contract to sell it to them. They could sue you for anticipatory breach. You might want to get a written confirmation from them that they are not going to buy it. That would protect you and you can put it up for sale with them as tenants.

Cheryl: I am a POA for a family member. If I sign as POA on nursing home admission agreement, will I be protected from financial responsibility?

Joe Escalante: POA is not the same thing as co-signing. If they want to come after someone for payment, they would have to go after the patient, not you, personally.

It doesn’t mean they wont try, but they would not win in court if they did.

LisaBeth: Hi Joe! Any advice for finding some “deal memo” templates for film production crew on an indie non-union feature? And any other tips for signing deal memos? Thanks!

Joe Escalante: you gotta just keep googling. I don’t know of a specific good source for those. You can always call me show and ask questions about stuff you find to see if it’s legit. The show’s on right now on and on Sundays on KTLK AM 1150 from 5 to 7 pm in L.A. streaming on

Holly: Can a landlord force you buy renters insurance?

Joe Escalante: In advance as part of a lease agreement, or after the term of your lease expires, if you want to continue staying there.

Attorney Joe Escalante will be back next week with more free legal advice. Get the details here: and come join us!

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July 3rd, 2012 at 5:32 am