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Free Joe Friday 12/10/10 – Arbitration, Game Patents, and More

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

Good morning, everyone. Welcome to Free Joe Friday! First question from Jocelyn: Is it easier and cheaper to go through arbitration or a law suit when dealing with a commercial lease?

Joe Escalante: Arbitration is not cheap but it’s usually always cheaper than using the courts. If you are rich and powerful, consider bleeding your opposition to death in court. But if you are human, opt for arbitration.

Zoe: If I Get My Own Record labe LLC How Fast Can I Start Use My Business Name To Build The company As get Account Setup

Joe Escalante: Zoe!!! Don’t do it. But if you must. Here’s some info: If the name of your label is unique enough to where you are sure the trademark isn’t gong to be challenged I would go ahead and use it right away. A name like Funglebreath Records is safer to start making your “talent scout” business cards for, but if it is something generic and possibly already in use by someone else like “High Energy Reocrds”(lame, I know) you should wait before spending money on it.

A really prudent lawyer would tell you not to do anything until you have all your corporate documents finalized and an “intent to use” trademark approved. But that’s not practical, there’s so much money to be lost in the music business and it’s important to jump right in and begin the process asap!

Christina: As a web designer operating a LLC, what tax paperwork, if any, do I need to provide to a client? I have a client requesting a 1099? I’m pretty sure he means a W-9, but do I even have to provide that, shouldn’t his invoice be enough?

Joe Escalante: I tell you people don’t get your tax advice from a lawyer in a punk band. Maybe you should post this question at the free tax guy’s facebook page. Oh, you’re right. That doesn’t exist. Let’s all take a moment to appreciate LZ. Having said that. I think my company sends 1099s to independant contractors who we pay more than $600 or something like that in any given year. We send W-9s to get their tax info but someone reading this will probably have better answers, but you really need a tax guy. get one today.

Terrell: Does Joe know any attorneys that he can recommend in the Southwestern Michigan area? I run a multimedia startup and am looking for a firm with experience in film, internet, and print.

Joe Escalante: I don’t know any personally, but I would try Legalzoom’s referral service, if it’s 1/2 as good as the documents, you’re going to find someone good. Find out who your competitors are using too. Sometimes it helps to go to their firm to make it messy for them to sue you, which eventually they will. doom and gloom. sorry. that was probably unnecessary.

Terrell, here’s where to find our Attorney Connect service:

Fahmeeda: How can you go about enforcing or collecting a judgment from small claims court?

Joe Escalante: The standard way is to get the Marshall’s office to garnish the wages of the debtor, or put a lein on their property. Your judgment allows you to do both these things. There are some private judgment enforcement companies out there but who knows how much they take from your judgment? I use a guy named Arturo with a pipe tucked in his lsnakeskin cowboy boots.

Carrie: I need help putting together a contingency/commission based contract.

Joe Escalante: Sounds like you need a real lawyer experienced in that field. again, my lady will provide the details about LZ’s referral service.

Hi Carrie, check out our Attorney Services:

Celes: Joe, Where Can I Get A Paid Summer Internship In The Legal Field?

Joe Escalante: The only internships like that are offered to 1st and 2nd year lawstudents after a punishing interview process. If you’re in lawschool, ask the guy next to you about it. If you are not, it’s not happening.

Karen: Can you get a utility patent on a new game? Or only a copyright? I would assume if you created the rubix cube (that new toy could be patented) but if you create a new method of game play (say you invented pictionary or monopoly) could you get utility patent protection on those new games or only copyright and design patent protection?

Joe Escalante: The Rubix cube probably qualifies for a patent and a design patent but really you should get the patent book from Nolo Press. It’s great and you will be able to actually file it yourself. Legalzoom can do a provisional patent but it only lasts 1 year. Creating a new method of a game sounds like a protectable copyright. to use the copyright of the original game owner, I would rely on the Fair Use Doctrine, but it doesn’t mean they wont sue you for using their logos, etc. Confusing? that’s why you need that book, or next week be more specific.

Added info from Megan: Joe – you need to read up on your LegalZoom :-) LegalZoom offers utility, design and provisional patent applications, and a lot of information about each:

Zebrina: A former landlord has sent a bill / debt 2 a collection agency sayn I owe dem $4k 6wks aft I vacated da premises. Dey have not sent me any notice of any outstanding balence: a deposition of any damages: fees or repairs dat I may owe. Dey have even keep my deposit. Can dey by pass me & sent a debt 2 collection.

Joe Escalante: Dey can do dat. check your rental agreement to see if the charges are valid. Debt collectors are heavily regulated so they may be over reaching and violating laws but you may have to sue them to figure it out. But if you owe da debt, pay da debt. Property owers are people too, right?

Bret: How much authority does a holding company have over the entire operation of a firm?

Joe Escalante: That would depend on the operating agreement and whether the business their in is heavily regulated or not, like bank holding companies are more regulated that baking holding companies. In my mind anyway. Research that specific business and their regulations to figure it out, or next week, be a little more specific, cuz I gotta go now. thanks.

Joe Escalante: I gotta go. but listen to my radio show on the air now at for more free legal advice and at 2 pm at radio weezer, and sunday on kfwb. see for more info. See you tonight in Tempe, AZ.

Get more info and all the details and fine print about Free Joe Fridays. And join us on Facebook 12/17 at 10am PT for more Free Joe!

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December 14th, 2010 at 7:20 am