Will. Trust. Asset Protection.

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Will. Trust.

Will. Trust.

Will. Trust. Asset Protection.

Do you have a Will? A Trust? an Asset Protection plan?

Are you someone with a fair amount of assets, let’s say over $150,000? Suppose you have no immediate family, e.g., spouse, domestic partner, children, whom you want to leave your assets to. And let’s further say, you have a sibling you dislike and have not spoken to in 7 years. But let’s also imagine that you have 2 cats, a best friend, and three favorite charities you currently contribute to. Finally, presuppose you do not have an estate plan, with a will, trust, power of attorney, or health care directive?

Protect Your Assets.

Then you die. What do you think will happen to your $500,000, $1-million, or more worth of assets? Your state laws on descent and distribution will be applied. More than likely, that sibling you hate will get a good portion of your estate after taxes. Your best friend, who you wanted to leave your jewelry, art work, your pets, and your new Mercedes, will get nothing. Those charities that you love and wanted to donate half of your estate to will also get nothing. Is that what you want?

How do you avoid such a horrible and undesirable result? You take control of your estate plan now.

Don’t put this important step off for one more moment. Make the time to prepare your estate documents now, while you are alive and in your right mind. There are 5 documents that generally comprise the estate plan:

  1. Will
  2. Trust
  3. Power of Attorney
  4. Healthcare Directive
  5. Assignment of Assets

Will. Trust.

At the very minimum, you should have an updated Will. Since laws regarding probate are state governed, each state has different rules. If you have not done so yet, consider consulting with a Will and Trust attorney in your state to counsel you as to your next steps. The last thing you want is for your hard earned assets to be given to someone you don’t even like.

I am Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s important– your business, your brand, your IP, and your estate! Twitter, Facebook Fan Page, LinkedIn, Google+ Circle.

Abuse. Domestic Violence. Ray Rice.

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Abuse. Domestic Violence. Ray Rice.

How do you turn an abused woman into a healthy woman? By getting HER to say NO!

Abuse. Domestic Violence.

Abuse. Domestic Violence.

As hard as we may try to stop domestic violence and punish the abuser, so long as women choose to stay with those who beat up on them (for whatever the reason), the abuse will never stop. Contrary to popular belief, abuse cannot be stopped without a woman’s help. If women continue to return to men who abuse them, then what are we to do?

I know, I’ve been there. For way too long, I tolerated physical, emotional, and mental abuse.  It took a lot for me to stop the madness. A lot for me to be willing not to take that treatment. I believe we need to stop telling women it’s okay to stay, and support them in walking away.

Oscar Pistorius.

There are countless stories every day in the news (and many that will never hit the news), about women who have been pummeled, often to death, by their abusive boyfriends, fiancés, and husbands. By now you’ve likely heard that Oscar Pistorius was not convicted of murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp.  And, you’ve probably heard about Ray Rice and others, who simply have not learned how to play well with others–especially their wives and girlfriends.

Ray Rice. Mike Tyson. Chris Brown.

Sadly and surprisingly, in all too many cases, not only do women stay with their abuser, they marry them. Think of Robin Givens who was beat like ground beef and then she married Mike Tyson. And most recently Janay Palmer’s face was pounded into an elevator wall by Ray Rice, and THEN she married him. And let’s not forget Rihanna, who after being beat up several times by Chris Brown, returned to his “loving” arms. And, abuse is not just physical, it is also emotional and mental. Every time a man disrespects his wife by committing adultery, especially with someone she knows, he is emotionally abusing her. How many women have stayed with, or returned to a partner who behaved in such a way, thinking the next time, it will be different.

Why do we stay?

There are lots of reasons, love, money, low self esteem, family, fear, guilt, children.  The list is endless.  Why did I stay?  Because I “loved him,” and because he convinced me that it was always my fault why he/they beat the crap out of me.  But for me, the truth is, I stayed because I didn’t care enough about myself to expect more from a man and because I was financially dependent on them.  Dependence is a horrible thing, regardless of whether you’re dependent on a drug, food, or a man. It compels you to do things you would not do for fear of losing that thing you need to survive.

But regardless of the reason, when we stay we suffer, and so does everyone who love us.  We don’t live in a vacuum. Our behavior, as women, impacts everyone around us, especially our children. Every time a woman allows a man to beat the crap out of her and she has kids, she sends a compelling message—this is how we are to be treated. We teach our daughters to accept such treatment and we teach our sons to administer such treatment. We teach people how to treat us.

Not only do we influence our kids, but if the woman is a celebrity, then her behavior impacts millions of young girls who watch and emulate her every step. What message does that send?

I am a little disappointed at the outcry of support—especially by women—in favor of Ray Rice. Women who openly are mad because he was suspended.  What about the women these men assault? What if it was your sister? your mother? your niece? your daughter?

There are two ways to stop such abuse:

  1. Hit the guy where it hurts. Take away what really matters to him—his money, his property, his prestige. But we don’t. Instead, we celebrate the abuser and make them bigger celebrities, buy their music, see their movies, attend their games.
  2. Women need to STOP the madness and leave. Stop giving abusers permission to continue the abuse. How do you turn an abused woman into a healthy woman? By getting HER to say NO, I’m sick and tired and won’t take it anymore!

By no means is it easy to leave. Particularly if the woman has no visible way of support and has allowed herself to be totally dependent on the abuser. But just because something is not easy does not mean it cannot be done. The price you pay when you allow someone to destroy your soul is a high price indeed. We need to stop encouraging women to stay and instead, support them in walking away.

Where are our role models? Obviously not on Reality TV. I’d love to hear what Queen Latifah, Oprah, Alicia Keys, Jada Pinkett Smith, Angelina Jolie, and other women I admire have to say about this. Speak up ladies–if not YOU, then who.  I’m not a celebrity, so no one will listen to me, but YOU, they’ll listen to.

I am Attorney Francine Ward initiating a conversation that needs to be had. Join in on my website, on my Law Face Book Fan Page or my Esteemable Acts Fan Page, on my Law Twitter Page or my Esteemable Acts Twitter Page, feeds, in my LinkedIn group, or in one of my Google+ Circles.

Trademark. Trademark Registration.

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Trademark. Trademark Registration.

Trademark. Trademark Registration.

Trademark. Trademark Registration.

Have you recently filed a trademark registration on your own? Or have you filed a trademark through a non-lawyer website like Legal Zoom? If so, you should know that there are important trademark deadlines you must adhere to, or you risk losing that valuable asset called a federally registered trademark. Trademark registration is more than just filing.

If you are working with an experienced trademark attorney, who remains the attorney of record on file, they will make you aware of those critical deadlines. If not, you are on your own. And make no mistake about it, the United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) will not tell you when it’s time to file a document—it’s not their job. It’s yours. And if you miss a deadline, you will lose your application, and if you have registered your trademark and miss a deadline, you will lose that trademark. Period.
When I am working with a client throughout the entire application process, I make sure the client knows what is going on. Once the trademark is registered, I educate my clients as to everything they must do to protect their valuable asset. If it is a client I enjoyed working with, even after I am no longer the attorney of record, I keep them aware of filing deadlines.

Here are a few of the important dates and deadlines you must know about:

  1. A Section 1(a) filing basis applies when you are currently using your trademark in commerce with all the goods/services in your application. You must provide the date you began using your trademark and a specimen (real-use sample) showing how the mark is actually being used with the goods/services.
  2. A Section 1(b) filing basis applies when you have not yet started using your trademark. You must use the trademark and pay an additional fee prior to registration.
  3. A Section 44(d) filing basis applies when you have filed for the mark in a foreign country.
  4. And so many more. Check out the US Patent & Trademark Office website for all of the important deadlines you MUST be aware of.

It is better to do it right the first time. But, if you find you have made a mistake and need help cleaning up the mess, feel free to contact me for a complimentary consult to determine if there is a fit. Don’t worry, there is no attorney/client relationship established during the complimentary consult. You are free to take advantage of the information I give you and choose someone else to work with.
Bottom line, you want to protect your asset. It is better to file and meet necessary deadlines correctly the FIRST TIME, instead of filing your application incorrectly and having to respond to a USPTO Office Action. But if you didn’t do it right and need assistance, feel free to give me a call.
I’m Attorney Francine Ward, helping creative entrepreneurs and business owners protect their valuable content, products, brand, and their business. Find me on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, LinkedIn, and on my website. Until next time, think protection!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Podcasting. Patent Infringement. Podcasts.

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Podcasting. Patent Infringement. Podcasts.

Patent Infringement.

Patent Infringement.

Once there was only radio. Then came television. Now there is podcasting. For years, these two outlets were the only technology available to the public from which people could tune into audio and video feeds, e.g. music radio, talk radio, TV news and talk shows, etc. Of course, the digital age of technology has broadened the options for information and entertainment. One such technology is podcasting.

Podcasts are defined as digital audio or video files that are produced in a series. People can subscribe to these files, and through podcatcher software, receive them to their computer, Smartphone or iPod. Today millions of podcasts are downloaded just in the Unites States alone. So, who invented Podcasting, and is the technology protected by a patent? A new argument on the horizon is a claim for patent infringement.

Adam Carolla. Podcaster.

These questions may soon be answered in a court of law after a Texas based company, Personal Audio, filed a patent infringement lawsuit against comedian and television personality, Adam Carolla. Carolla, who claims to be the world’s largest podcaster, was just the latest to be sued for infringing on the “podcasting patent” by Personal Audio.

Shortly after the company filed the suit, they turned around and dropped it. Carolla claims they dropped the suit when they realized he didn’t make much money as they thought from the podcasts. He claims they (Personal Audio) troll the Internet for large podcasters who they believe make large sums of money, then they file the infringement suit.

Carolla has decided that he won’t let Personal Audio drop the suit, instead, he plans on defending the suit and countersuing for damages. He states that he is taking up the fight for all podcasters and believes that the patent they hold should be rescinded.

Personal Audio. Podcasting.

Personal Audio, a company that once transcribed magazine articles to cassette tapes, filed for the podcasting patent by claiming they invented a “system for disseminating media content representing episodes in a serialized sequence.” They were granted the patent in 2012. The company claims they invented podcasting back in 1996. Opponents dismiss the claim by asserting that the first podcasts began three years earlier in 1993.

Electronic Frontier Foundation, an Internet freedom advocacy group, has petitioned the U.S. Patent Office to review the patent and have it invalidated. They assert that podcasting was already in existence in 1993, three years before Personal Audio claimed to have invented it. Earlier this year the Patent Trial and Appeal Board stated that the advocacy group’s petition had a “reasonable likelihood of success.”
The trial is scheduled to begin this September in a Texas court. This case likely to have a large impact on how and what people will be able to access from the Internet, so stay tuned.

I’m Attorney Francine Ward, and what do you think? Join the conversation on my Facebook Law Fan Page, my Twitter Law Page, my Google+ Page, or in one of my LinkedIn Groups.

Will. Trust. Whitney Houston. Asset Protection.

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Will. Trust. Asset Protection.

Will. Trust. Whitney Houston.

Will. Trust. Whitney Houston.

Just because you’re famous and have money does not mean you make smart decisions. That is especially the case, when it comes to the protection of your business affairs. Making sure your will, trust, and other estate documents are in order should be uppermost on your to-do list.

Whitney Houston. Will.

In 1993, Whitney Houston had her will drafted. That was the last time she looked at it. At the time, her intent was to ensure the protection and long term financial security of her daughter, Bobbi Kristina. She never amended her will, even though her situation changed dramatically over the subsequent 20 years. Perhaps drugs got in the way of her thinking, perhaps she couldn’t make the time, or perhaps Bobby Brown distracted her. Whatever the reason, she did not tend to the business of her multimillion dollar estate. Among other things, Whitney Houston left the bulk of her vast estate to Bobbi Kristina—a minor.

Now, Whitney Houston’s mother, Cissy Houston, has filed a petition with probate court to modify the terms of Whitney’s will. This move is to protect Bobbi Kristina from vultures and other scammers waiting to collect a big payday from a naive and vulnerable 19-year old. By changing the terms of the will, Cissy believes Whitney’s true intent will be realized.

Takeaways. Significant Life Events.

What’s the takeaway here? DON’T make the same mistake that Whitney and countless others have made—PROTECT YOUR ESTATE NOW! Contact your attorney whenever a major event takes place in your life or 5 years have lapsed, whichever comes first. Here are a few of the significant life events that could trigger your need to change your estate documents, will, trust, power of attorney, living will, assignment of assets:

  1. Get married
  2. Get divorced
  3. Legal separation
  4. Purchase a new home or any big ticket asset
  5. Go into business with someone
  6. Have a child or adopt a child
  7. Relocate to a new state/country
  8. You desire to change your beneficiary
  9. Come into a large sum of money
  10. and, the list goes on

I’m Attorney Francine Ward and I say, PROTECT YOUR ASSETS before it is too late. If you need a lawyer to review existing documents or prepare estate documents, feel free to contact through my website, my Legal Facebook Fan Page, my Legal Twitter Page, or through LinkedIn.