The Slants. USPTO. “Disparaging”


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.


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.


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.







Why Me?


Everything happens for a reason

Good health. Yoga woman relaxing by seaSometimes when we’re disappointed because we didn’t get an outcome we wanted, it’s hard to understand why it happened. It seems unfair that we try so hard to achieve our goals with little visible success. It’s especially hard if we did our very best. “Why me?” we ask. “Why is this happening to me? What did I do wrong?”

Nothing happens by accident

Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in this world by accident, even if in the moment we can’t make sense of the experiences. There are often two levels of reasoning. There is a logical, secular explanation, such as we weren’t prepared in the way we need to be or we could have made some different choices. But there is also a spiritual, metaphysical accounting that suggests that whatever happens was for our highest and best good, regardless of outward appearances to the contrary.

The spiritual reasons could be we weren’t emotionally ready to go to the next level. We had more inner work to do, there were more important things to attend to before our dreams could be realized, it wasn’t the right time, or had we realized our dream, we would have missed another opportunity that we needed to experience.

How do you know whether to let a dream go or keep at it?

And if you let go, how do you know when it’s time to try again? There is no one-size fits-all answer. There are many factors to be considered, including timing. If you’re at this crossroads take into account the following:

  • Are you consumed with making your dream happen?
  • How long have you worked to make it happen? How many attempts have you made?
  • How does your obsession with making it happen affect your loved ones? Sometimes the price we pay is worth it – and sometimes it’s not. Only you can decide.
  • What are the financial implications? Health implications? Are you using your last dime, your family’s savings, or your rent money? Are you getting sick? These are questions to consider.
  • Is it really your dream to make this happen? If so, sometimes it’s worth everything to keep the dream alive.
  • Does your life or livelihood depend on the success of this experience?
  • How do you know when you’re ready to resume the process? The answer varies. However, the amount of time since your last attempt, whether you’ve been able to acknowledge your mistakes, whether you’ve been able to indentify lessons learned, and whether you’ve been able to reach out for help are all factors to be weighed.

Today allow yourself to think through what would happen if you put your dream on hold temporarily. You may not think that you have the time or that you’ve already invested too much money to stop now. But perhaps if you continue as you are, more money and time will go to waste. Sometimes allowing time to come between you and the experience gives you a chance to regroup, reassess your strategy, and become spiritually and emotionally strong again.

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

Ask for what you need


Grateful. Gratitude.

It’s 6:30 in the morning and I was in McCarran airport waiting for my flight to return home. I was hungry and didn’t want to risk eating something on the plane that I’d regret. So, I scouted around the concourse with some possible options. I approached the first food counter and asked for what I wanted, even though I didn’t see it on the menu. I’ve learned that it’s better to ask, even if you don’t see what you want, because they just might happen to have it. So, I asked. The server was really kind and said, “It’s good that you asked. Even though it’s not on today’s menu, we usually have it. He continued, “You might check the restaurant next door.” Thank you,” I said, and I went next-door.

Again, I didn’t see what I wanted on the menu but decided that I at least ask. The worst thing they could say would be “Sorry, we don’t have it.” And I walked up to the counter and asked for my selection.

“Do you see it on the menu?” The server said, in a somewhat irritated tone. “No,” I said, “but sometimes it’s worth a shot to ask.” He said, “Well not here. You get what you see and we don’t make egg white anything. This is not a gourmet restaurant.”

“Do you have oatmeal?” I asked, in an effort not to give up on my plan. “Well no, we don’t have oatmeal. Is there anything on the menu you’d like?” “No, thank you,” I said and I left.

As I walked away, I overheard him saying to a co-worker, “Some people are so picky. She should eat what she can get. Everybody’s on a health kick today.”

Some of you might be thinking if I had asked for something on the menu, this would have never happened. And you know, you’re right. But at the moment in time, I want to what work for my meal plan. I didn’t want bacon, fried eggs, and hash browns; I want to eat a healthier choice.

How many of us give up too soon or don’t even ask for what we need because we’re afraid someone will perceive us as “high maintenance” and picky, and with that ungrateful attitude, because our health needs differ from theirs.  How many of us make a choice every day not to take care of our needs because someone might not like us. For years, I was that person. The one who couldn’t or wouldn’t ask for what she needed for fear of what others would think. Today I am not.

A powerful force, fear defines who we are, controls the choices we make, and keeps us stuck in places we’d rather not be. How do we learn to ask for what we want?

  • Know going into a situation that it probably won’t be easy. You’re doing something you’re not used to doing.
  • Just ask. You’ll never know unless you ask. I can’t tell you how many opportunities I missed simply because I was afraid to ask for what I needed or wanted.
  • Know that there will be times and you’ll get what you want, and times you won’t. Sometimes I get what I want when I want it; sometimes I don’t. That’s life, and I’ve got to live with it.
  • Have a Plan B. Be prepared in case you don’t get what you want. Are there alternatives and you can live with? Is there another option?
  • What can you do in the future to better prepare for similar circumstances? In my particular case, I can perhaps bring the snacks with me or eat a little something before I leave for the airport. Think I’m alternatives that work for you.

Today I invite you to ask for what you need and want in a providing of situations.

Pick Your Battles Carefully


Practice when to take acton and when to let go

An empty interior with a door shaped like a keyhole

We arrived as scheduled at the hotel of choice for a two-week stay. It’s always been one of my favorites. My husband and I checked into our room, only to discover that we were located directly above the garbage dump, the loading dock, and the motorcycle pit. As I’ve learned to do, I took responsibility for my feelings and call the manager for assistance.

“We’re regular visitors to this hotel,” I said. “Can you move us to another room, please?” “I’m sorry. I’m not able to change your room without assessing an additional $250 charge. That’s the hotel’s policy.”

A little put off by his unwillingness to accommodate us, I asked, “Is it hotel policy to put regular customers over the garbage dump?” Undisturbed by my obvious disapproval, he simply said, “There was nothing we can do for you at this time. You can check back with me in a few days.”

“What about a dinner voucher for my husband and me for the inconvenience? It’s very noisy over the loading dock, and the smell of the garbage dump seeps into our window,” I said. “No, I’m sorry. We are not able to provide that for you at this time. I can, however, offer you a free drink at the pool.”

When I got off the phone, I was livid and gave myself permission to be mad for about an hour.

Then I read Step Three and recited the Serenity Prayer.

Step Three: Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood him.

Serenity Prayer: God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

In that moment, I thought, “What can’t I change?” First, I couldn’t change the hotel manager’s mind. I asked, he said no. Second, I couldn’t stop the noise from the garbage dump, the unloading of the truck, or the motorcycles revving up. And third, I couldn’t get another room without paying more money.

Then I thought, “What can I change?” All I could think of was myself and my attitude. That was it. I repeated the Serenity prayer and I knew I had a choice – actually, lots of choices. What were my choices? To move to a different room and pay the extra fee. To stay in the room and accept the situation as it is. To stay in the room, complaint for two weeks, allow resentment to destroy my vacation, and then blame the manager.  Or demand my money back and go to another hotel. They were all valid choices. Someone better than others. And I could to make my choice. The wisdom to know the difference is about having the courage to choose wisely and carefully. It’s knowing or what I can control and what I can’t. After talking it over with my husband, we decided to pay the extra money to a more comfortable room.

There are times when it’s appropriate to fight a battle because of the principal. There are times to know when it’s best to let go and claim victory in the letting go. Knowing when to do which is the challenge, and the gift. The wisdom to know the difference.

All we can change it ourselves: our attitude, our behavior, or feelings, and our beliefs. Nothing more. We can’t change other people’s attitudes, behaviors, feelings, or beliefs.