Women Allowed To Get Paid Less Then Men


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.


Non-USPTO Solicitations



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.

Zillow Digs. Copyright Infringement.


Copyright Internet Pics.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright Infringement

Taking a picture off of the Internet without permission and adding it to a website or blog seems harmless, right? Well I’m here to tell you that it’s quite harmful. When you use works protected by copyright law without permission, you are indeed infringing on a copyright. The penalties for infringing on a copyright can range anywhere from $200 to more than $150K for each work that was infringed upon. Plus, the infringer must pay all court costs and attorney’s fees.

To this day blogs, small companies as well as giants are not taking copyright infringement quite seriously. Case in point, the home listing giant Zillow was sued for “brazen theft” of interior design images.

The infringement lawsuit was brought by VHT Inc., a photography and image management services company, in United States District Court in Seattle in July of 2015. VHT alleged that the images that were being displayed or saved on Zillow Digs, a home design site, as well as on the main Zillow site, violated their copyrights.

In December of 2016, the courts dismissed the claim of infringement on Zillow.com.  However, the infringement claim with Zillow Digs continued and the trial began on January 23rd, 2017. In mid-February, the jury finally came to a verdict.  The jury ordered Zillow to pay a whopping $8.3 million in statutory damages.

VHT’s CEO Brian Balduf said to the press the jury’s decision “protects the interests of real estate photographers and their clients. We look forward to continuing to work with our team of nationwide photographers, as well as our industry counterparts, to create a rights management organization to ensure that all real estate photographs are managed properly and protected against unlicensed uses.”

In a statement to GeekWire, a Zillow representatives said: “We have persistently maintained our belief that this suit was without merit. While we are pleased that the majority of original claims were dismissed in this case, we regret that the jury did not find for us completely on those that remained, and will vigorously pursue all options to overturn their verdict. We take copyright protection and enforcement seriously and will continue to respect copyright permissions across our platforms.”

Copyright Infringement Steps To Take.

So, what should you do if you notice that someone is infringing on your work? Here are some steps to take:

  • Ensure you have a copyright notice on all of your copyrightable works. A copyright notice is not required for protection, but does help to prove an infringement.
  • Register your Copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, and once completed, the copyright office will send you a certificate.
  • Prepare and mail a warning letter to the infringing party. In the letter identify your work and inform the party that it’s copyrighted.
  • If you do not hear from the infringing party favorably, file a copyright lawsuit in your federal district court.

You have worked too hard not to protect your intellectual property – don’t wait until it’s too late!

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.


FTC Advertising Rules. Testimonials.



http www browser bar, Internet addressA client recently got upset when I told her she needed to change her marketing tools (e.g., websites, social media profiles, and blogs) in order to comply with the updated FTC advertising rules on testimonials and endorsements.  A die hard information marketer, she insisted that I was wrong.  She said, “My coach—a very successful info marketer—told me those advertising rules don’t apply to me, because I’m not paying anyone to give me an endorsement.” “Plus,” she said, “I have ‘Results Not Typical’ everywhere on my site.” I told her that the information she’d been given was inaccurate, and that the FTC advertising rules, in fact, DO apply to her.  As an information marketer, I said, you are exactly who the FTC is targeting.

She is not alone in having a vested interest in believing inaccurate information about the new FTC Rules on endorsements and testimonials.  Many internet marketers want to believe that the internet rules, more specifically the advertising rules, don’t apply to them, because it means changing their business model.  It means in some cases significantly altering the way they do business, which can dramatically affect their pocketbook.  But like it or not, the FTC is serious about tracking down violators.  Marketers who, through a variety of advertising mediums on the internet, disseminate false and misleading information about their products and services are the focus.

At a minimum, the FTC Rules require that an advertiser disclose any material relationship between it and an endorser, whether or not you paid them to endorse your product or service. A posting on your social media site, wiki, a blog, chat room, discussion board, forum, or any other internet venue may be considered an endorsement. Transparency through disclosure is key.  Failure to comply can subject both the advertiser and the endorser to liability, particularly if the claims were unsubstantiated or in any way, misrepresented the product or service.

So what can you do to protect yourself:

  1. Take the FTC Rule on endorsements & testimonials seriously!
  2. Review all of your marketing materials with a view toward FTC Rule compliance
  3. Ask yourself, “could an endorsement of your product/service, when viewed objectively, be perceived, by consumers, as sponsored by you, therefore an advertisement?
  4. Disclose all “material connections” between the advertiser and endorser.
  5. Make sure you disclose in a conspicuous manner what the average consumer can expect to gain from use of your product/service
  6. Make sure you have reliable evidence of any claim made about your product/service
  7. Don’t rely on “Results Not Typical” to satisfy the FTC requirement, because it won’t (See Footnote 1, pg. 5, http://tinyurl.com/ygcmpfd
  8. Accurately represent customers expectations
  9. Review this FTC Rule pronouncement carefully, especially  §255.2 if you use consumer testimonials (http://tinyurl.com/ygcmpfd)
  10. Consider hiring someone to help you interpret the New FTC rules in light of your product/service

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.

Social Media and the Workplace


Navigating Social Media in the Workplace!

Social Media Workplace

Social Media. Workplace Policy.

Social media has infiltrated our everyday lives, and the workplace is no exception. Because of the rise of social media venues, such as Myspace, Twitter, Facebook, Second Life, and LinkedIn, employers are exposed, as never before, to vast bits of information about employees and potential candidates.  In the not so distant past, much of this information would not be available, but employers now face the challenge of being exposed to this extraneous information and the legality of using it. Employers must consider whether the benefits are worth the risks of viewing an applicant’s social media site and using it in the hiring process, and if they choose to use it—to what extent?

There are several considerations an employer should take into account when entering this technological minefield.  Here are a few:

  1. Develop a social media use policy, communicate to everyone with a need to know about it, and make sure you enforce fairly.
  2. Create a list of the social media that will be used for each and every applicant and what information they will use from the search, forming a consistent process.
  3. Delegate the social media search to a neutral party who can filter out protected class information.
  4. Strictly adhere to a policy of not “friending” the applicants to learn about nonpublic information from a social media profile.
  5. State a valid, business-related reason for the hiring decision and maintain the information to back up that decision.
  6. Consult with counsel before deciding to use social media information in the hiring process.

Outside of hiring, social media can be detrimental to a company’s productivity and employee relations, and can affect all aspects of the employment life cycle, making it important to address the issue in company policies. Companies, at the very least, should add broad statements and prohibitions regarding social media in the workplace to existing code of conduct, harassment, and confidentiality policies, and apply them with consistency.

Until next time, think ASSET PROTECTION!