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Legal Blog Featured Post – Attorney Advertisement

Join in the conversation on Francine’s Legal Blog on  a regular basis to stay informed on all things involving Intellectual Property, Copyright, Trademark, Contract, Website, Social Media and Advertising law. Simply click the blog post title to read the entire blog post. You may also click on a category in the right side bar cloud category list to read posts related to your preferred topic.

Uber Drivers. Tipping

Uber. Tipping. Taxi.

Uber. Tipping. Taxi. Cab.

I am new to Uber, in fact, I just took my first one last week while in Orlando at a conference.

Mostly it worked out well. Most drivers showed up when they said they would or at all, two did not.  And most were pleasant enough.  Being new, I assume a tip was included in the cost.  However, that being said, when a driver was exceptionally nice, helpful, flexible, or even just friendly, I just gave him an extra tip.  I personally have mixed views about Uber and the concept of hitchhiking with strangers.  I did that in Junior High and High School, but was on drugs so I did many things I would not do now.
 
The idea of tipping an Uber driver, if the tip is included then that’s one thing. If you want to give extra for doing extra, then we as customers are always free to do that.  Not sure why there is an issue here.

It goes back to what I believe, and that is, tips are for good service. Whether you drive a Yellow Cab or an Uber, if the service is poor then while there may be some folks who are afraid not to tip, others of us are not. I don’t tip for poor service, and if I do, it is the bare minimum.
 
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.

Disney. Inside Out. The Moodsters.

Copyright Infringement.

copyrightHave you ever considered pitching a story idea to a big movie producer? If you have, you also have to think about ensuring that your concept doesn’t get stolen. Many times, an idea gets pitched, rejected and then later the producer uses a similar storyline.

Childhood development expert, Denise Daniels, co-founded the National Childhood Grief Institute which counsels children after tragedies such as Hurricane Katrina and 9/11.

In addition to National Childhood Grief Institute, Daniels created a children’s program called The Moodsters to help kids better manage their emotions. She pitched this idea to Disney-owned Pixar many times between the years of 2005 and 2009. Daniels states that there was an understanding that she and her team would be compensated in the event that the idea was used.

Fast forward to 2015, Disney launched the “Inside Out” animated program to explore children’s emotions through various characters representing different moods by using colors.

Daniels filed a lawsuit against Disney stating that her idea was used and she was not given credit or compensation.

Story Ideas.

According to Daniels’ attorney, Michael Geibelson, who writes that in The Moodsters “Each character is an animated, anthropomorphized figure representing a single emotion with a corresponding color, and specifically happiness (yellow), anger (red), sadness (blue), fear (green) and love (pink).”

In a statement to the press, a Disney spokesman said: “Inside Out was an original Pixar creation, and we look forward to vigorously defending against this lawsuit in court.”

A similar case was brought to court in March by Esplanade Pictures who claims that their writer, Gary L. Goldman, pitched Zootopia to Disney in 2000 and 2009, and was not compensated.

So, my advice to you is that if you are ready to pitch your idea to a producer, its best to hire an expert entertainment attorney to assist you before you have that first all-important meeting.

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.

Starting a Non-Profit? Important Steps To Take.

Are YOU:

  • Contemplating forming a nonprofit organization or a not for profit foundation?
  • Considering qualifying as a 501(c)3 charity? 501 (c)4? 501(c)5? 501(c)6? 501(c)7? Other 501(c)?
  • Not sure about the requirements?

Thinking woman in front of blackboard with question marksLet’s explore a few steps you need to take and a few resources that you may find useful. Depending on the exact nature of your non-profit and the state, in which it is formed, some things may or may not apply to you. This post primarily addresses California entities, however, you can research the corresponding agency in your state. For example, every state has a Secretary of State Business Portal. That might be your first stop.

A few documents you can obtain and even prepare on your own, and others, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer to help with. Regardless of whether you do it yourself or seek guidance, please know that legal documents should be prepared VERY carefully. They are not always as simple as they appear.

One thing you should know, if you are forming a not-for-profit in California, there are rules and regulations from four (4) governmental agencies, which you MUST comply with, as well as the operational business entity requirements. The government agencies are: California Franchise Tax BoardAttorney GeneralSecretary of State, and the Internal Revenue Service.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself, regarding your non profit:

  • What is the purpose of your non-profit?
  • What type of business entity will you have? Pure non-profit? Charity? Trade Association? Advocacy group? If in California, will it be a low-profit limited liability company (L3C)? or a hybrid social enterprise (e.g., Benefit Corporation, Flexible Purpose)
  • Regardless of the type of entity, you will need corporate documents. The following is a short list of things you will need:
    • Articles of incorporation or association
    • Bylaws or Operating Agreement if it is an LLC or L3C
    • If a corporation, Action of Sole Incorporator
    • Board of Directors
    • Minutes and Consents

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.

Stop & Smell the Roses

picture of smiling woman smelling flower

Smell the Roses. 

We’ve all heard the popular quote “stop and smell the roses.”  Well this also applies to things like your daily readings and meditations. It is one thing to do these things and just going through the motions, but how much do you really take in and absorb, and how much do you really get out of it?

For years, I faithfully read my daily meditations. They became a part of my daily routine. After my morning readings, I would sit quietly and digest the material, allowing it to sink into my consciousness. This was a great way to start my day and proceed with a clear mind on what I wanted out of life.

But…

Over the years, I somehow began to get careless. I rushed through my reading and mediations without really absorbing them, without fully taking in the meanings and lessons they offered. As a result, I missed the essence of what keeps me grounded.

Do you read, meditate or perhaps do yoga? If you do, are you just going through the motions and thinking about what you have to do next, or are you there in the moment learning and benefiting as much as you can? So many of us have such hectic lives that we don’t even know how to relax anymore. We don’t allow ourselves to chill out for even a short period of time and quiet ourselves – we don’t take time to see the roses, much less smell them!

There is great power in your readings and mediations, power that can change your day, power that can make sense of what is currently happening in your life, power to let go of anger and see things through a different light. However, if we simply go through the motions and never really process what we read, how can it really help us?

So please remember that you will get out of your inspirational readings and meditations exactly what you put into them. The more you practice absorbing the material and quieting your mind, the easier it will become, and the greater the benefits will be.

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.

Sometimes you don’t have a choice. Or do you?

Choice. Life Choices. Options.

Choice. Options.

The Serenity Prayer says, “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.” Sometimes it doesn’t feel as if we have choices, but in truth we almost always do.

A friend of mine named Lara was laid off from her job of 15 years. She was a loyal employee and was confident her employer would reward her faithfulness with interrupted employment and an occasional thank you. So, when she was laid off, she was devastated. “How could this happen to me,” she cried, “I’ve given the company the best years of my life and this is the thanks I get.” Lara had a right to be upset. She had a right to be angry. And although she had no choice in being terminated, she did have a choice in how she handled it.

She took control of her life. She allowed herself time to be angry. Then, instead of moping around feeling sorry for herself for weeks and months, she took this seemingly bad situation and turn it into an opportunity to receive training in an area she was interested in.

She also used the unscheduled break in employment as a respite, a time for a much-needed vacation. Lara chose to work her situation to her advantage.

In a journal, identify a situation in which you feel you didn’t have a choice. Explain why you thought you didn’t have a choice. Now, go back and think about what you could have done differently. In hindsight, where they are other options he could’ve explored? Is this something you can do now?

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.

Wild Thing. Shoes. Ivanka Trump. Aquazzura Italia.

Legal Battle.

Ivanka trumpControversy seems to follow the Trump name, whether it’s in Washington D.C. or the halls of the fashion industry in New York City.

This time it’s Ivanka Trump who is in the middle of a legal battle over the design of a shoe. Ivanka Trump’s clothing brand has been sued by an Italian footwear company, Aquazzura Italia, alleging that their shoe design was copied and sold under a different name. The suit was filed in June of 2016.

The lawsuit accused Ivanka Trump and her licensing partner, Marc Fisher, of plagiarizing a shoe design marketed under the name of “Wild Thing.” Aquazzura Italia claimed that the shoe in question, called the Hettie sandal, was identically copied, which included distinct details such as the shape, silhouette, fringe covering the toes, and tassel on the heel.

Since the filing of the suit, the lawyers for Ivanka Trump have been fighting to keep Ivanka from being deposed and filed a motion to prevent her testimony on grounds that Ivanka did not possess any “unique information” relating to the design of the shoe. Furthermore, they claimed “special circumstances,” arguing that her testimony would “distract” from her duties in the White house.

Sandals.

After almost a year of legal wrangling, on June 23rd judge Katherine Forrest of the Southern District of New York ruled that Ivanka Trump must submit to a deposition. The ruling stipulates that the testimony must be limited to only two hours and held in Ivanka’s new residence, Washington, D.C. The judge also decreed that the testimony must take place before October 31st, 2017.

Judge Forrest acknowledged that Ivanka Trump divested herself from her fashion company in January, but was still the CEO at the time the lawsuit was filed.

The shoe in question is no longer listed on the Ivanka Trump website and the company and its attorneys have refused to comment on the recent ruling.

This isn’t the first lawsuit filed against Ivanka Trump’s fashion company. This past March her clothing brand was hit with a class-action filed on behalf of women’s clothing retailers throughout the state of California. The suit contends that her company unfairly benefits from her relationship to President Donald Trump. It points out that Trump advisor, Kellyanne Conway, promoted Ivanka’s brand on an appearance on Fox News.

The lawsuit seeks monetary damages, as well as a restraining order barring the sales of Ivanka’s clothing line in the state of California.

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.

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.

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.