Trademark. Google. Dominos. Apple.

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How to choose a trademark that can likely be protected?

Branding. Trademark. Make one up.

My greatest challenge when it comes to trademarks is the marketing department. In most cases, marketers tell their clients, when choosing a trademark, to select a mark that “describes” what they do.

Trademark lawyers tell clients, do NOT choose a mark that describes what you do. Instead, select a mark that is unique and distinctive, not descriptive. When counseling my clients, the best way for them to accomplish that is to make up a word and then market it to the hilt.

Remember this; no one knew what Google meant before they started to market it. Back in the day when someone said Apple, no one would have thought of computer products. Nor would anyone over 50 ever have thought of Dominos for pizza.  Yet today, because of extensive and creative marketing, these non-descriptive unique and distinctive terms have become household names.

According to the SBA, here are some other points to consider as you choose your trademark:

  • How will your trademark look? – On the web, as part of a logo, on social media.
  • What connotations does it evoke? – Is your name too corporate or not corporate enough? Does it reflect your business philosophy and culture? Does it appeal to your market?
  • Is it unique? – Pick a name that hasn’t been claimed by others, online or offline. A quick web search and domain name search will alert you to any existing use.
  • If you intend to incorporate your business, you’ll need to contact your state filing office to check whether your intended business name has already been claimed and is in use.
  • It is web-ready? – In order to claim a website address or URL, your business name needs to be unique and available. Next, check whether a domain name (or web address) is available.

You can read more tips on the SBA website here: https://www.sba.gov/content/how-name-business

Who’s ready to register the next big thing?

Until next time, I’m attorney Francine Ward sharing useful legal information. Join my conversation on FacebookTwitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groupsGoogle+ Circles.

Adele. Music. Trump. Intellectual Property. Right of Publicity.

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Intellectual Property. Right of Publicity.

Intellectual Property. Right of Publicity.

When was the last time you purchased a CD or MP3 download of your favorite artist’s songs and listened to the tunes at home, in your vehicle, or on your headphones while out for a jog? Like me, I presume it’s quite often.

Right of Publicity?

However, did you know that you cannot play the songs you purchased publically?  So when you’re at an outside party or gathering such as restaurant, event hall or at your local park, the music that is being played for the group to hear is subject to copyright laws. Where you aware of this? Apparently many people are not, including our presidential candidates.

English singer and songwriter Adele is reminding presidential candidates to stop using her music during any campaign events.

Adele recently discovered via Twitter that Trump played her song at an Iowa event when a tweet was sent to her saying: “Hey @adele #trump is still using Rolling in the Deep at a rally in Iowa…”

Prior to that, former Gov. Mike Huckabee also tweeted out the video of Adele’s ‘Hello’.

Adele’s representative, Benny Tarantini, sent this statement to the press: “Adele has not given permission for her music to be used for any political campaigning.”

In an exclusive article, The Independent wrote: “The Republican frontrunner has consistently played Adele’s smash hit ‘Rolling In The Deep.’ with its ‘we could have had it all’ refrain, to stoke up the atmosphere at campaign events before his appearance.”

IP Infringement.

So if you’re at a place that’s open to the public and would like to play a song, how do you ensure that you’re not infringing on someone else’s Intellectual Property?

Make sure you have the written approval of the copyright holder or that you have the appropriate music licenses.  A few of the major clearinghouses are ASCAP, SESAC, and BMI.  These music performing rights organizations have various license options from single event to annual blanket licenses. Here are some helpful links from each of these organizations which discusses the licenses and fees:

As always, it is critical that you know and fully understand the laws as well as your rights.

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.

50 Cent. Copyright Infringement. “I Get Money”. Young Caliber.

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Copyright Infringement. Curtis Jackson. 

Music. Copyright.

Music. Copyright.

Lawsuits on copyright infringement are on the rise and musicians are the first on the list get slapped with a lawsuit.

One such lawsuit came to conclusion in the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month. Queens rap mogul Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, was victorious in a suit against him over his hit single “I Get Money,” which peaked at No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 2007.

The lawsuit was filed in 2010 by Atlanta rapper Tyrone Simmons, know as Young Caliber, which alleged that 50 Cent and his producers infringed on Simmons’ rights to use the instrumental for the song. Simmons claimed that he bought the instrumental of ‘I Get Money’ from the producer first and had exclusive rights.

Lawsuit Overturned.

The Second Circuit in Manhattan overturned the case due to the fact that Simmons had waited too long to file and the suit had exceeded its 3 year statute of limitations.

Jackson’s lawyer, David Leichtman, told reporters: “Today the Second Circuit Court of Appeals vindicated Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent, in a copyright case relating to his 2007 hit record ‘I Get Money.'”

And this is not the first time Jackson won a court battle. Back in 2011 in a Newark, NJ federal court, a judge dismissed a copyright infringement case against 50 Cent along with his record label, G-Unit.

The Preacher’s Son.

In this suit, Shadrach Winstead, the author of ‘The Preacher’s Son – But the Streets Have Turned Me Into a Gangster,‘ claimed that Jackson plagiarized his book. Winstead asserted that Jackson took elements of the book and used it in the 2009 crime drama film, Before I Self Destruct. The judge tossed the case noting that the book and movie did not contain any major similarities.

Copyright infringement cases truly reflect why it’s so important to take all of the necessary steps to protect what’s yours, especially if you’re a musician or author. And a copyright attorney can help you with:

  • Creating a copyrightable work.
  • Advise you about the need for proper notice.
  • Help you determine which form to use.
  • Help you decide whether you should actually register your copyrighted work with the US Copyright Office, and if so, how to go about doing it.
  • Help you in the event that someone is infringing on your copyright.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours.

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.

 

Read the Terms of Use.

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Accepting Terms.

Terms of Use

Terms of Use

I have said it many times before and will continue to say it, because a lot of folks didn’t get it until it is too late. READ ALL AGREEMETS BEFORE YOU ACCEPT THE TERMS. That includes, especially in today’s world, Terms of Use or Terms and Conditions, or Terms of Service — whatever they might be called. But regardless of the label, the essence is still the same, they are enforceable agreements. Here is why: you give up your rights!

So by failing to review the terms and conditions you may be giving up certain rights and you probably won’t find out until something goes drastically wrong.

Here’s a game, can you guess which company has the following in its Terms of Use?

  1.  The Services Generally. Except as expressly contemplated under these Terms, as between us and you, we will own all right, title and interest in and to all copyright, trademark, service mark, patent, trade secret or other intellectual property and proprietary rights in and to the Services, and in all Responses, logos and other materials created using the Services, in all media now known or later devised, to the fullest extent provided under United States and international law. You shall not remove, conceal or alter any copyright notice, byline information, disclaimer, restriction or other notice posted in connection with the Services or any portion thereof.

Why is this so significant?

Because if you hire this company (and many like it) to create content for you, THEY and not you own all of the rights to that content. How do I know? Because the Terms of Use say so right here:

“As between us and you, we will own all right, title and interest in and to all copyright, trademark, service mark, patent, trade secret or other intellectual property and proprietary rights in and to the Services, and in all Responses, logos and other materials created using the Services…”

And there are a few more not-so-secret secrets lodged in these Terms that you won’t know about until you take time to read and understand them. Good luck with that!

This is why it’s imperative to read and understand all agreements before you accept them.

If you’re overwhelmed by these types of legal agreements, an attorney can always help you navigate through the fine print.

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.

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours.

Courtesy. Kindness. Politeness.

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Being thoughtful and polite.

Courtesy. Kindness. Politeness.

Courtesy. Kindness. Politeness.

Do you think there is a rudeness epidemic in America? According to a national survey conducted from 2011 to 2013 among 1,000 American adults, 70% believe that incivility has hit pandemic proportions.  And 43% percent anticipate they’ll experience some form of rude behavior within the next 24 hours. Has rudeness become a normal way of everyday life? Is it all we are to expect?

I watched a recent episode of Chicago Med, where a doctor rudely jumped in front of someone to get a cup of coffee. She neither said ‘Excuse me’ or ‘I’m sorry’. Instead, when the doctor was confronted about her bad behavior, with all the entitlement she could muster, she denied it.

Earlier this week I personally witnessed a woman hold open a door open allowing 4 people to enter a room.  I was amazed and quote saddened that nit one of them even turned to her to say,  ‘Thank you’. It was as if they felt she did what she was supposed to do–cater to them.  It appears more commonplace than ever before.  The words ‘Excuse me’, ‘I’m sorry’, ‘Thank you’, ‘May I’, etc., have just become obsolete.  Why? My own opinion is that we learn from our role models. If they are rude, then we learned to be rude. Whenever I think of learned behavior I think of the song from South Pacific, “You Have to Be Carefully Taught.”

Yet, if you think about it, projecting good manners isn’t hard to do.  How much effort does it take to say, Thank you?  Very little. Yet, saying Thank you goes a long way, not only in how others feel about us, but how we feel about ourselves.  When you show good manners, others are more likely to be polite to you in return.

So how can you improve on your good manners?

The Huffington Post offers 4 ways to shape up:

  1. Develop Empathy for Others. Do you say what’s on your mind regardless of whether you hurt someone else’s feelings? It is your way or the highway? Instead of chewing a waiter’s head off for mixing up your order, or constantly interrupting your relatives to get your point across, try to see things from the other person’s point of view.
  2. Engage People in a Way that Protects Their Self-Esteem. Do you laugh at your friends’ expense? Do you always have a sarcastic comment about everything? Sarcasm is the lowest form of humor. If you’re making a joke, and you’re the only one laughing, that’s a clue. A lot of humor has a sharp edge to it. If it’s always somebody else bleeding, it may be that you’re hurting other people’s feelings. A friend of mine shared a YouTube video with me. The most profound message for me was “It only takes a few seconds to open profound wounds in persons we love; it takes many years to heal them.”
  3. Find a Better Way to Be Assertive There’s a difference between being assertive and being aggressive. Assertive people stand up for their rights, while aggressive people often step on the rights of others. You can tell someone the truth and stand up for yourself while still being kind, warm and genuine. Why not speak your mind in a way that leaves the other person feeling better about themselves than when you got there? For example, if the offender is someone you know, make eye contact and call this person by his or her name as you calmly speak your mind.
  4. Treat everyone with dignity and respect. I always try to treat everybody with dignity and respect. I might tell them the truth they don’t want to hear, but I’m not going to treat them in a way that’s without dignity and respect, because I feel like we’re all in this together — this human experience called life. Treat others the way you expect to be treated.

In the 1963 novel “I Am David” by Anne Holm, Johannes says to David:

“Politeness is something you owe other people, because when you show a little courtesy, everything becomes easier and better. But first and foremost, it’s something you owe yourself.

So, let’s start with today. How do you plan to show a little courtesy?

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.