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How Do I Protect My Company Logos? And More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 7/24/12

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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.

Amos: What’s the easiest and cheapest way to protect my company Logos?

Joe Escalante: #1. Make sure you document your company trademarks USAGE in interstate commerce. Trademarks are governed by usage, not who files first. Registering your mark is eventually what you are going to want to do. The filing fees are $350.00 or something like that, and you can use Legalzoom to help you through the process so you don’t screw it up. It’s not easy. Click below for more info.
If you have a lot of artwork associated with your company, you can register for copyright protection for that stuff, if you think it’s vulnerable to infringement.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Amos: http://www.legalzoom.com/trademarks/trademarks-overview.html?cm_mmc=social-_-fb-_-freejoe-_-na

Alfredo: wat legal route must i take to retire to a foreign country like the philipppines?

Joe Escalante: This is really a question for the Filipinos. They govern who can live there and under what circumstances. The basics are that if you are over 50, they make you deposit more money in the bank than if you are under 50. If you have a legitimate provable pension, the requirements are lessened.
The government site is the best place to get started. Sounds like fun. Art Bell did it. Good luck!

Stacy: How do you take someone to small claims court to enjoin them from further collections activity. I pick up the phone and call ___ or I get in the car and I drive to ____ and do ____ – I’ve never had to do anything like this. Don’t even know where to start.

Joe Escalante: This varies by state, and even county, here’s a link to walk you through Virginia’s process. Remember, you are seeking “injunctive relief” rather than a money judgment. A small claims court can do that, if they want. http://research.lawyers.com/Virginia/Virginia-Small-Claims.html

Sharon: I was summons to appear in court in Nevada, for driving under the influence & open container from last year. I live in California and want to know if I can ask for a hardship because I have no way to get there and it be transfered to california? thank you please please answer, my summons isn’t til November 2012 its in Parump Nevada

Joe Escalante: The judge is going to say that if you are able to come to Nevada to drink and drive, you can come to Nevada to appear. It’s quite serious. Also, if he sees the picture of you being whisked off in a limousine on your Facebook page, it’s going to get even worse. You need to show up.

Tonya: When should you get a lawyer to help with a mortgage re-modification.

Joe Escalante: That’s a great question. There are a lot of sharks out there. It would all depend on the lawyer you choose. Many take your money and do absolutely nothing. I see the cases in court all the time.

If you have a lawyer that has a proven success record, then you might consider it. However, it takes a lot of interviews and checking references to fine one that can really help.

If you think about it, modifying a loan is not a legal issue. So what do they do? Threaten legal action if the bank doesn’t cooperate. It’s all pretty shady. You don’t have a legal right to a modification, so injecting a lawyer into it is kind of weird.

Nexus: We are a proposal writing company. We have our own non-disclosure agreements, and professional service agreements in place. But should we obtain E&O insurance as well? Or should we just stick with our company documents that are very well written to cover us in any event of legal action against us. Thanks

Joe Escalante: I would get the insurance if it is remotely affordable.

Rick: Joe, due to consistent water leaks here at work that have not been addressed we have mold and mildew issues. Can I seek legal action?

Joe Escalante: If you are an employee and you feel you are in danger, you need to make written requests for a correction of the problem. Then you need to see a doctor and get a check up to see if you are being harmed, or could be harmed. Also, the state labor commission should be notified.

OSHA governs certain regulated entities and they have a “whistle blower” program you might want to check into.

If you are not an employee, but a tenant/employer, you make the same written request of your landlord.
To sue, you need certain and provable damages. A case like this will require expert witnesses, etc. You could go to court to force them to fix stuff as well, if damages are imminent.

Jeffrey: I have been fighting Verizon Wireless re disputed overage charges for months. What other recourse do I have besides filing an FCC complaint. A customer can’t dispute a call log that is generated by Verizon. There must be call log accountability! Please advise. Thank you.

Joe Escalante: These get taken to small claims court all the time. Start throwing terms around like punitive damages for consumer fraud. I’ve seen people sue phone companies for the maximum damages of $7,500 in small claims against phone companies.
The companies sometimes fight it, but most often they are inclined to send a representative to the courthouse and settle in the hallway for less than the full amount. The worst thing for them would be a judgment against them that other consumers would have access to as a public document.

Jeffrey: Do I file locally?

Joe Escalante: You file where the defendant does business. Go get ‘em.

Superior Court.

Cathy: I live in Ohio, and have been separated for ten years. I paid for a dissolution in 2006, but my ex would never agree to anything, and kept making changes to the document for so long that he exhausted the allotted attorney resources. I am on an extremely limited income, (disabled, with two sons still at home-they spend time each week with both of us.). I cannot afford an attorney, and cannot find any help. I qualified for “legal aid” financially, but they will not help me unless I am a criminal in need of defense! What on earth can I do, and where can I turn? I haven’t been able to find any attorney willing to help me.

Joe Escalante: If you can’t afford an attorney, you can represent yourself. People do it all the time. First, you need to read up on the subject. Start with this cute doggy book: http://www.amazon.com/Nolos-Essential-Divorce-Doskow-Attorney/dp/1413304524

Jennifer: If you pay child support and you get a raise are you required to inform the ex-spouse of your increased pay (in Georgia)

Joe Escalante: Technically yes. Society wants you to kick in a little more.

Andre: How to file request for royalties (mechanicals) writers /performance/ publishing?

Joe Escalante: This is a topic for the radio show. We can spend some time on it there. Call on Sunday between 5 and 7 PM PST. This is what we do on that show. KTLK AM 1150 in Los Angeles. The number is 877-520-1150. Go to http://www.barelylegalradio.com/ for more details.

Rene: Hi Joe! If there is a Company, say ABC, Inc., would registering a domain name, ex. ABCReview.com and posting critical reviews about the company and its products be considered fair use or are there any Copyright/Trademark issues to be concerned about? Thanks!

Joe Escalante: Hi Rene! Great question. Technically you would have a First Amendment right to criticize that company and under the Fair Use Doctrine you would even be able to reprint some of their otherwise protected material. However, if they feel (and they will) your site creates “confusion in the marketplace” as to whether ABC endorses the content, they might bring a case against you, if they can concoct some theory of harm.
However there seem to be lot of Disney blogs with Disney in the name. disneyfoodblog.com comes to mind.
But be forewarned, companies don’t acknowledge the Fair Use Doctrine and they sue all the time because of jack ass lawyers that give them dumb advice. Remember this Forever 21 case?: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/forever-21-threatens-blogger-lawsuit-wtforever21-site/story?id=13784592#.UA7iBkQmbBw

David: From TX: I want to form a limited liability entity that umbrellas several specialized smaller entities. A media company, with subsidiaries that do different kinds of media – print, short films, music. I would like to retain some control but would be willing to sell shares. Should I go with an LLC, an LLP, some kind of corporation, or start as a sole proprietorship and incorporate later?

Joe Escalante: You are going to have a lot of tax issues that should influence your decision. Get a good tax pro in the mix and go over this with them. Legally, you are going to be OK with all of them in terms of protecting your personal assets from liability. If you go sole proprietor, make sure you have insurance.

LegalZoom: Attorney Joe Escalante will be back on Friday at 10am PT with more free legal advice.

Join us then and be sure to bring your legal questions! http://zoo.mn/bFreeJoe

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July 26th, 2012 at 5:53 am