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How to Trademark a Phrase or Saying & More Free Legal Advice – Free Joe 4/3/12

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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.

Lance: How do you go about Trademarking a phrase or saying?

Joe Escalante: Click the link below. Legalzoom has an article on the very subject. My radio show focuses on Intellectual Property issues like that. You can get the podcasts here:

LegalZoom: Here are a couple of articles that may be of interest, Lance: and


Joe Escalante: This is called a “contested divorce.” They are quite expensive to litigate. The only way to do it without spending a lot of money is to represent yourself. Buy the Nolo Press divorce book. Study up, and see if you think you can handle it.

Sherri: Good morning Joe. I hope this day brings you good joys. My question is: What can I do about a tenants guests. I have a tenant that continues to allow her guest to be obnoxious, rude and loud. Also, the tenant allows this non-tenant to stay at the house for days at time. I realize there is a certain waiting period that guests can stay for visits. But what if that person allows a friend to stay in their house a few days a week, every week. I mean, I know I can’t tell my tenants who they can have visit their home or not but don’t I have any rights? I pay for water and sewage, this person also has two children of her own. The tenants have a child of their own. So, I have five people that are staying in a one bedroom unit (made into a temp two bedroom). I’m frustrated and just don’t know that do to or what my rights as a Landlord is. Also, these tenants are not very nice one’s. I do not get along with them too well. I stay away from them as much as I can. They were not happy they did not get a chance to buy this six unit, they have been here a long time and don’t feel they have to follow the rules at all. They do pay their rent every month and they are on welfare. I live in Massachusetts…and in this state, tenants have more rights than the Landlord. So your advice would be greatly appreciated.

Joe Escalante: If you have a month to month rental agreement, give them 30 days notice and kick them out. If they protest they will have to prove that you violated their civil rights some how. E.g., kicking them out because they are Irish or some other protected class like disabled transexuals.
This will be hard for them to do. You have a right to kick them out if there is no lease, or a month to month as long as you give them the notice required by the lease, or what the state deems reasonable.
Some states require a 60 day notice if the rent is subsidized by some welfare program, so watch out for that. But in general, the lease governs. Without a written lease or rental agreement, you just need to give reasonable notice which is usually 30 days.
However, if you want to keep them, and change the terms of the rental agreement to limit guests, you can do that as well, but I would just kick them out and do not tell them why. Only tell them you are terminating the lease because it is your right.

Wendy: Question for Joe: what all does a guardian at litem look for when making his decisions of who a child should live with when there is a custody/placement debate between parents?

Joe Escalante: This varies wildly from court to court. Their guidance is supposed to be based on what is in the “best interest of the child.”
The only constant I can think of is that all courts feel that it is important to have both parents in the kid’s life, unless one of them has been proven to be abusive. And even then, supervised visits are often allowed.
Things to avoid are splitting siblings, living with unmarried couples, and a parent that works too much, leaving the kid at day care.

Tammy: What do I do to be power of attorney for my grandparents.

Joe Escalante: The best way is to go to the Legalzoom power of attorney link (below) and get one they’re so damn cheap. Then you take it to the bank and show it to them and say “hey look at me, I call the shots around here now.”

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Tammy:

Erik: I recently had an expungement of a felony (felony resisting arrest, no jail time). Can I still petition the governor (Michigan) for a pardon and will that pardon remove the felony completely? There is no other criminal history. I was an adult at the time.

Joe Escalante: An expungement is quite an accomplishment. In most states the expungement is what takes the offense off your record. A pardon just adds to your criminal record. It will then say, “convicted but pardoned.” You might want to quit while you’re ahead.

Sheila: I can afford my mortgage payments but this was supposed to be a temporary place to live. Can I still file for foreclosure?

Joe Escalante: This question doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. One doesn’t file for foreclosure. It is imposed upon you by a lender when you don’t pay your mortgage payments.

Lori: My husband needed a stent…slightly more than a year later, he needed another one, problem is, the second one was needed to open the original one, which was partially collapsed. There was no aditional blockage, just a failed stent. Does he have a legal recourse?

Joe Escalante: You need negligence and provable and certain damages. If the the damages are provable and certain, and you can prove that it was the result of malpractice, you should consult with a medical malpractice attorney.

Lori: Is there such a thing as malpractice against the manufacturer of the stent? Thanks!!

LegalZoom: Yes, that would be called a “product liability” lawsuit. Check the Internet to see if anyone else is suing them and then talk to a product liability attorney.

Susan: Want 2 find out if I can file 4 divorce even though I don’t know where the person is? I’m in NYC!!

Joe Escalante: Yes. No problem. There is a process for doing the best you can to find the person, publishing what you’re up to in the paper, then getting a default judgment, and wham! you’re single again!

Patti: Hi I have a question about gaurdianship. My xhusband and I have guardianship for our special needs son . I would like to find out how I can remove my exhusband from being guardian ?

Joe Escalante: You can petition the court that issued or approved the order of guardianship for a change in the order. That shouldn’t be that difficult. Call the clerk in that court and start asking questions.

Janos: Good morning Mr. Escalante, I’m back with more questions! I am going to start selling t-shirts online, I got the trademark (via legalzoom) and I’m ready to start selling. (working on the website right now) What do I need to start selling online? Should I use my Inc in the begging? Or start using the Inc for this when business picks up? Also, do I need State Sellers Permit? Fictitious Business Name? Contractor’s Business License? An Out-of-City Business License? Home Occupation License?

Joe Escalante: Congratulations! See what the bank requires to open a business account. The seller’s permit is related to the state sales tax so check with the Secretary of State’s web site to get that underway. If your city or county requires a business license for a home based business, get one. Make sure you talk to your tax pro about all this. It’s going to be his headache at tax time so get him on board early.

Janos: Do you recommend doing all this via the Inc., or do that when sales pick up?

Joe Escalante: If you don’t have a corporation yet, I would talk to your tax pro. You’re going to pay a minimum $800 tax in California so it’s best to wait until you are sure the business is for real. You can operate under a D.B.A. and some liability insurance in the mean time as a sole proprietor. If you already have the corporation, you might as well use it because you are going to be taxes as if you are using it.

Deby: If my sons father is being investigated or charged with child abuse or molestation should i as his childs mother be notifyed of this?

Joe Escalante: That would be up to the policies of the law enforcement agencies involved. It would be nice to think they would notify you, but he is presumed innocent until proven guilty so he has some rights too.

Charlena: Hello and thank you for such a sweet service. :) My question is kinda confusing trying to keep it short but I wanted to know how I could get compinsated for my mental illnesses that were caused by my mothers perscription drug use both while she was pregnant with me and through out my childhood that caused me a very severe bunch of mental disabilities. The thing I really want to make a point that she has been funded by the Ca state gov. both by medical, and now medicare too to get these drugs and they are drugs that one is only supposed to take if suffering pain and only for a short time. Medical and medicare never questioned the 3 doctors visits a month and 100′s of pain and other pills a month as well. It has caused me a great deal of problems trying to over come the effects this has had on me and SSDI denied me at the court level already its so not right. Hope that made sense..:(

Joe Escalante: Watch TV for 30 minutes during the day and you will see a few commercials for lawyers that specialize in this kind of stuff. Zoloft is the popular defendant these days. Call them and get a consultation. If that doesn’t work, click below and look for attorneys that specialize in Pharmaceutical Litigation.

LegalZoom: Here’s the link, Charlena:

LegalZoom: That’s it for Free Joe Tuesday–thanks to Joe Escalante for joining us to answer questions. Joe will be back on Friday, so come join us then for more free legal advice.

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April 5th, 2012 at 5:51 am