The Slants. USPTO. “Disparaging”

Share

Trademark. Rejection.

USPTO. Trademark.

Imagine that you find that ideal name that suits your business and brand quite perfectly. You rush to quickly file all of the appropriate paperwork with the US Patent and Trademark Office so that you can start to use your trademark. Then your attorney reaches out to you to inform you that you’ve received a rejection letter from the USPTO stating that your trademark was not approved because it was found to be “disparaging.” What would you do?

Well this is exactly what occurred to the Asian-American rock band, The Slants. The band’s trademark was rejected in 2010 on the grounds that it is disparaging to people of Asian descent. The band leader, Mr. Tam, was surprised about the rejection notice and cited that the band had received not one formal complaint by any Asian-American. At that time the band had been touring for over several years.

In an edited excerpt from the conversation that the NY Times conducted with Mr. Tam, he says the following about where the name originally came from:

It came from me asking around friends when I was trying to think of a band name. I said, “What’s something you think all Asians have in common?” and they told me slanted eyes. That’s interesting because, No. 1, it’s not true — not all Asians have slanted eyes and Asians aren’t the only people that have a slant to our eyes. But No. 2, it worked [as a name] because we could talk about our perspective — our slant on life, as people of color navigating the entertainment industry — and at the same time, pay homage to the Asian-American activists who had been using the term in a reappropriated, self-empowering way for about 30 years. We know that irony and wit can neutralize racial slurs, because it shifts the dynamics of power. It makes people check in and think, “Is this actually appropriate to use or not?” Prior to that, people just make assumptions. Read more here.

The Slants.

The Slants, not wanting to give up on their band name, took their case all the way to the Supreme Court. And after 5 years of battle, the Supreme Court recently ruled the USPTO is not able to determine what kind of speech is socially acceptable and what is not.

Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “The disparagement clause violates the First Amendment’s Free Speech Clause.” The court went on to say that “the federal government does not dream up these marks,” and that registration should be “viewpoint neutral.”

Attorney Lee Rowland of the American Civil Liberties Union agreed with the decision that the Supreme Court made and said:

“The government’s misguided effort to protect minorities from disparagement instead hurt members of that very community by hindering their right to compete in the marketplace of ideas. Fortunately, today’s opinion prevents the kind of absurd outcome that results when the government plays speech police.”

As this moment, the government has appealed the decision to the U.S. Supreme Court. So, we will need to continue to follow this case. What do you think of the Supreme Court’s decision? Feel free to comment below.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Terms and Conditions. AirBnB. Change in Terms.

Share

Terms of Use. Check box.

Illustration depicting a roadsign with a 'read the small print' concept. Sky background.

AirBnB. Terms.

How many of you sign up for an online account with a business and when you get to the terms of service, you simply check the box without reading the fine print? It happens all of the time, right? It may be that you are too busy to read through it. Or even if you did have the time to read it most of the language is designed to be nearly impossible to decipher.

And then once you check those terms, you agree that the company can at any given point modify those terms without your approval. And make no mistake, you are legally bound to this agreement with the company.

AirBnB.

One business that recently sent out a notice to all of their users regarding a change in the terms of service is AirBnB; the online marketplace and hospitality service. These changes could have major implications for all AirBnB users.

Taken from the email sent to their customers AirBnB says:

Our community and vision for travel have grown significantly, so we’re updating our Terms of Service, Payments Terms of Service, and Privacy Policy (collectively, “Terms”). Also, we rewrote and restructured the Terms to make them shorter, more concise, and easier to read. The changes will go into effect for all existing users on August 25, 2017. When you use Airbnb on or after that day, we’ll ask you to agree to the new Terms.
You can review the new Terms by clicking here. We’ve also put up information to explain these changes in more detail on our Terms of Service Update page. Both the old and new versions of the Terms can be found at the Terms of Service, Payments Terms of Service, and Privacy Policy, tabs through September 25, 2017. You should review these Terms in full yourself.

Review Terms.

These recent updates include changes to their terms, payments and privacy policy.  If you are a user of AirBnB, I’d highly recommend that you review these revised terms to determine how these changes may affect you.

And if you’re overwhelmed by these types of legal agreements, an attorney can always help you navigate through the fine print.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Feel free to join my conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on my Twitter page, in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Establish Your Brand

Share

Trademarks

Trademark. Lawsuit.When you think of great trademarks, the ones known throughout the world, they will likely include the apple with the bite taken out of it and the golden arches. There are also older trademarks that have withstood the test of time, like the classic Pepsi trademark or even the red tongue, which has come to represent the Rolling Stones for several decades now.

Big successful companies strategically use something called trademark placement or product placement, the conspicuous placement of the trademark where a large number of people will see it. Think of the giant television screen in New York’s Time Square. Other trademarks appear in popular movies and television shows.

The website brandsandfilms.com compiled a list of the top 40 product placements of all time. The top five are:

  1. Wilson in Cast Away
  2. Kodak Carousel in Mad Men
  3. Ford Mustang in Bullitt
  4. Manolo Blahnik in Sex and the City
  5. FedEx in Cast Away

To see the complete list, visit here.

Obviously, most businesses don’t have the power and resources to get their brand on television or the movies, but there is much a small business can do to promote its brand. And while your small business may not have its brand recognized around the world, you can become recognized as a top brand locally to the customers you want to specifically target.

According to Inc. Magazine, there are 10 ways to establish your brand.

  1. Publish Plenty of Free Content
  2. Make It Dead Simple to Access
  3. Provide Value on Social Media
  4. Guest Post on the Right Sites
  5. Tell Your Story
  6. Take Advantage of Google Authorship
  7. Write a Book
  8. Be Controversial
  9. Speak at Every Opportunity
  10. Be Constant

To see further details on these steps, read here.

Of course, a big part of establishing your brand involves the trademark of your logo and name. Why let someone else steal your brand and all the hard work you put into it? A solid trademark is a great way to protect not only your brand, but also your reputation with your customers.

Feel free to join my conversation on FacebookFacebook Esteemableacts Fan Page, or my Facebook Law Page, you can also interact with me on my Twitter Esteemable Acts pageTwitter Law Page, or on LinkedIn.

Women Allowed To Get Paid Less Then Men

Share

Briefcase in a hand, business illustration9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals

For all those women who voted for Trump and by their actions approve of his misogynistic abusive treatment of women, you will be happy to read this decision.

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco ruled that an employer can pay a woman less than a man for the same exact work if the man was paid more at his previous job.

Judge Lynn S. Adelman stated, “If prior salary alone is responsible for the disparity, requiring an employer to consider factors in addition to prior salary cannot resolve the problem that the EEOC and the plaintiff have identified.”

Rizo v. Yovino

In the case of Rizo v. Yovino, Aileen Rizo was hired by the Fresno County school system as a Consultant back in 2009. Her annual salary was $62,733, which was just about 10K more than the previous job she had.

However, in 2012, Rizo discovered that the school hired a man for the same job and paid him $79K per year, which is $17K more than her. When Rizo went to her employer to complain, she learned that the other male co-workers in her field were all paid more than her based on the salaries of their previous jobs.

When Rizo sued, the unanimous panel said the Equal Pay Act allows for pay differences based on “a factor other than sex,” and this includes past salaries. Rizo’s attorney, Daniel Siegel, informed the Associated Press, “The logic of the decision is hard to accept. You’re OK’ing a system that perpetuates the inequity in compensation for women.”

With the world being in 2017, this is yet another step backward for women in the US.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.

 

Trademark Scammers. USPTO SCAM.

Share

Non-USPTO Solicitations

USPTO Scam

USPTO Scam

Here is yet another way scammers are trying to part you from your hard-earned money.

The USPTO recently announced that trademark holders are receiving letters in the mail requesting payment on fees due for the trademarks.

The fraudulent solicitations include offers such as: for legal services; for trademark monitoring services; to record trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection; and to “register” trademarks in the company’s own private registry.

Furthermore, these scammers are using letterhead that mimics the look of official government documents and are using names that resemble the USPTO, such as “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.”

Trademark Scam.

The Department of Justice reported that these scams resulted in the loss of approximately $1.66 million from copyright holders, and has only resulted in 5 convictions.

So, if you get a letter in the mail stating that it’s from the USPTO office read the letter carefully before making a decision about whether to respond.  According to the USPTO “All official correspondence will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” in Alexandria, VA, and if by e-mail, specifically from the domain “@uspto.gov.”

What do you do if you are a victim?

File an online consumer complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). See here.

The USPTO has offered several examples of just some of the non-USPTO solicitations that have been mailed out, which can be reviewed here.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles. Feel free to subscribe to my newsletter.