The Oakland Raiders. NFL Football


To fans of NFL football, The Oakland Raiders are truly an iconic team. They are known for their gritty play, as well as their eclectic and sometimes eccentric players – where the rebels and castaways of the NFL frequently wind up, and often make big on their second chance.

DecisionThe Oakland Raiders franchise began back in 1960 as members of the now defunct AFL, which merged with the NFL in 1970. The Raiders stayed in Oakland from 1960 to 1981. In 1982, they moved to Los Angeles and became the Los Angeles Raiders. Then in 1995, they moved back to Oakland where they have played to this day.

After several years of pushing for construction of a new stadium, now there is a deal is in the works to move the team to Las Vegas. It is not a done deal quite yet, but there is a chance the team may stay in Oakland. This is obviously good news for the die-hard fans. As for the critics, not so much.

Oakland Raiders.

I get that the fans of the Oakland Raiders want them to stay in Oakland, CA and not move to Las Vegas. But one issue that seems to escape those who just want their football team in the Bay Area is debt. A group led by former Raider Ronnie Lott is trying to work out a deal with the county for a new stadium estimated at a cost of $1.3 billion, of which $350 million would come from public funds, while a $91 million debt still exists on the coliseum from the 1995 renovation.

We are so much a culture that wants to spend until we are in debt way over our heads. Then, we blame someone else for our trouble. They are willing to spend money on a football team when the city itself needs help. Who can honestly deny that Oakland needs financial help for infrastructure? Not any reasonable person.

San Francisco Chronicle.

A few months ago, the San Francisco Chronicle published a story titled “Homeless tent camps sprouting all over Oakland.” Another story appearing in the World Atlas lists Oakland as one of the top 3 cities with the highest violent crime rate. Of course, these problems plague a lot more cities in America besides Oakland.

Getting back to sports stadiums, according to MarketWatch 22 cities have given an average of $250 million to the NFL for stadiums since 1997. That’s a total of $5.5 billion – and that’s just for football! Partial financing for many of these deals came through property taxes, which usually go towards infrastructure and schools.

Hey folks, I believe the time has come for us to think long and hard about our priorities.

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.

Mark Geragos. Snapchat. Inappropriate Material.


APP. Mobile Messaging.

Phone. Snapchat. App.California based attorney Mark Geragos, who has represented high profile clients such as Michael Jackson and Scott Peterson, is now taking on Snapchat, a mobile messaging app launched in 2011, which allows users to share videos, photos, text and drawings.

Earlier this year, the app reached 10 billion daily video views. According to a May 2016 article in Forbes, Snapchat is valued at $18 to $20 billion.

Geragos filed suit on behalf of Lynette Young and her minor child and is seeking class-action status. The suit contends that Snapchat is exposing underage users to sexually explicit and inappropriate material and not giving sufficient warning to the users and their parents. Users must state that they are at least 13 years of age to sign up for the service.

Terms of Service.

Snapchat’s terms of service warns its users not to send sexually explicit messages, but the suit contends that the company is not doing enough. Discover, a feature of the app allows the sharing of material, including videos, from third-party sources such as MTV, BuzzFeed and Cosmopolitan magazine. The lawsuit contends that parents of minor users would object to much of the material if they were aware of its accessibility.

Geragos stated that about 25 people have contacted his office over the past year expressing their concern over their children’s exposure to crude images, sexual references and other topics, such as drugs and alcohol. “A lot of the sites have taken the affirmative approach of dealing with this, but Snapchat isn’t one of them,” said Geragos.


Through their spokesman, Snapchat said they have not yet been served with the lawsuit but regret that people are offended by some of the content. They also expressed support for the “independence” of their partners. Historically, the courts have ruled that internet companies are generally immune from lawsuits based on third party content posted on their sites and/or service, so this case can hold profound ramifications for all internet companies that allow third party content.

As of yet, no hearing date has been set for the case filed at the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles.

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.




Universities. Trademark Lawsuit. Colleges.


Trademark Infringement.

Trademark. Lawsuit.When people think of trademark lawsuits they usually don’t expect institutions of learning to be involved, but most colleges, universities, and private schools are in fact businesses and compete for tuition money with other schools, thus their trademarks are just as valuable as any.

Last week The University of Houston, a public system founded in 1927, filed a trademark infringement lawsuit against The Houston College of Law. Up until about a month ago, Houston College of Law was the South Texas College of Law, founded in 1923.

Confusingly Similar.

The lawsuit from University of Houston contends that the new name (Houston College of Law), along with a new red, white & blue color scheme is “confusingly similar” to their own color scheme and registered trademarks. They further stated that the new name and color scheme will result in “loss of revenue and reputation.” Their argument points out that the University of Houston’s law school is rated in the top 50 law schools, while South Texas College of Law never ranked among the top schools.

Meanwhile, the South Texas College of Law’s website writes that it stands behind its name change and is prepared to defend its decision in court. Board Chairman Ken Johnson states that the school has been an “integral part of downtown Houston for almost a century,” and that the name change brings a stronger association with the city of Houston.

Protect Your Business Identity.

This isn’t the first trademark case between two institutions of higher learning and with schools competing for students. And as I have said so often before, your trademark is an integral part of your business and its identity and needs to be protected.

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.


Contracts. Agreements.


UNDERSTAND Those Agreements BEFORE Signing.

Agreements. Contracts.

Agreements. Contracts.

I can’t tell you how many times I have warned people about signing a contract without complete understanding of the terms. Unfortunately, people still make the same mistakes over and over by signing contracts that are not in their best interest. Often these mistakes can cost a person everything they worked for.

Here is just another unfortunate case that proves my point.

The Camellia Grill, a landmark New Orleans restaurant, popular with both locals and tourists for nearly 70 years was severely damaged by hurricane Katrina and remained closed for over a year, when owner Michael Shwartz decided to sell it in 2006. The sale was finalized with 3 separate contracts, one of which was the “bill of sale.”

READ Those Agreements BEFORE Signing.

The new owner, Hicham Khodr, also signed a contract for a licensing agreement regarding the use of the iconic Camellia Grill trademarks and logos. The contract agreed on a payment of $1 million, as well as ongoing royalties. This contract was contested, and eventually declared null and void by a Louisiana court. This ruling then led to a slew of other lawsuits between the two parties.

With the licensing and royalties contract terminated, the seller filed a lawsuit against the new owner claiming trademark infringement, since the restaurant continued using the original name, signage and logos. The new ownership contended that the use of the logos and trademarks was covered in the “bill of sale” contract.

When the smoke from the lawsuits finally cleared in July of 2015, the court ruled that the new ownership had complete rights to the name, trademarked logos and all materials specified in the bill of sale. The contract specified transfer of all “tangible personal property located within or upon” the Camellia Grill.

Michael Schwartz argued that intellectual property was not part of the “tangible personal property.” However, Judge Jane Triche Milazzo ruled that the language in the bill of sale was “clear and unambiguous.”

Obviously, Michael Schwartz and his attorneys did not cover all the bases in regards to the specific language of the bill of sale contract. They assumed that the licensing contract covered the trademarks, but when that contract was voided by the court, the bill of sale became the primary documentation of the terms.

When you sign a contract on the dotted line, you had better be absolutely sure that the terms are exactly as you want them, with all avenues and possibilities considered, especially when dealing with multiple contracts for the same deal.

Please don’t enter into a contract that can affect your livelihood and future without seeking the counsel of an experienced attorney who specializes in the field. Not all lawyers are created equal. Your real estate lawyer is ill-equipped to counsel you on intellectual property law issues, and truly not your criminal lawyer. One oversight on the contract can lead to devastating consequences.

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.


Incorporate. Incorporation.


Incorporate. Incorporation.

Are you starting a new business, and while you’re sure you want to incorporate, you’re not sure where? Incorporation and the state where you choose to incorporate is an important business judgment decision, which should not be made lightly.  Recently I had a client tell me he wanted to incorporate his new business and he wanted to do it in Delaware. So of course, my first question to him was, “Why Delaware?” He replied, “Because someone told it was the best place to incorporate.”  Delaware is a great place to incorporate your new business, but incorporation in Delaware is not for everyone.

Here are a few things to take into account:

  1. The greatest advantage of incorporating in Delaware is its exhaustive, well-seasoned case law library.
  2. It has its own Court of Chancery, which primarily deals with corporate law issues.
  3. Another advantage to incorporating in Delaware is that it is a business-friendly state.
  4. Its laws often tend to favor protecting corporate interests, rather than shareholder interests.

But wait, there’s more you should know …

  1. That being said, the initial start up costs and the cost to maintain a Delaware business, if you are doing business in another state can be costly.
  2. Let’s say you reside and do business in California, not only will you have to pay Delaware taxes, but you will also have to pay taxes in California as a foreign business.
  3. You are required to have a registered agent with a physical address in Delaware.  Companies perform this retainer service or a fee.
  4. In Delaware, if your new company will issue stock, you must pay a fee calculated on the number of authorized shares.
  5. There are also shipping and handling costs, as well as the cost of certified copies.

The bottom line is you will have to pay some of these fees regardless of where you incorporate. But, if you are incorporated in one state and do business in another, your  costs will double. This is not to deter you from incorporating in Delaware, it is just to make sure you are well informed before making that all important decision.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours!  Share your thoughts about this case. Join the conversation on my legal Facebook Fan Page, legal Twitter Page, Google+, or in one of my LinkedIn groups.