Annual Credit Report. Free Online Credit Report. FTC.

Annual Credit Report. Free Online Credit Report. FTC.

Annual Credit Report.  Free Online Credit Report. FTC.

Know what’s in your Credit Report!

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently disclosed the results of a study of the U.S. credit reporting industry. What they found will astonish you, but mostly open your eyes to what you can do.  For example, did you know …

  • 5% of US consumers have errors on one of their 3 major credit reports?
  • One in four consumers identified errors on their credit reports that might affect their credit scores? AND,
  • One in five consumers had an error that was corrected by a credit reporting agency (CRA) after it was disputed, on at least one of their three credit reports?
  • Four out of five consumers who filed disputes experienced some modification to their credit report?
  • Slightly more than one in 10 consumers saw a change in their credit score after the CRAs modified errors on their credit report? And,
  • Approximately one in 20 consumers had a maximum score change of more than 25 points and only one in 250 consumers had a maximum score change of more than 100 points?

“These are eye-opening numbers for American consumers,” said Howard Shelanski, Director of the FTC’s Bureau of Economics.  “The results of this first-of-its-kind study make it clear that consumers should check their credit reports regularly.  If they don’t, they are potentially putting their pocketbooks at risk.”

Your credit report includes personal information about your financial history.  Information that can severely impact your ability to get insurance, buy a home or a car, get a loan, or a credit card. The first action you should take is get a copy of your credit report today.  While there are many companies that advertise on television that you can get your credit report –for a fee, the really good news for you, as a consumer is that you can get your credit report for free from  If you find an error, they will help you fix it.

Congress directed the FTC to conduct a study of credit report accuracy and provide interim reports every two years, starting in 2004 and continuing through 2012, with a final report in 2014.  The reports are being produced under Section 319 of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act, or FACT Act.

Information for Consumers

The FTC has a wide range of general information for consumers on credit reporting issues, including Free Credit ReportsDisputing Errors on Credit Reports, and Your Source for a Truly Free Credit Report?, as well as a new consumer blog posted titled It Pays to Check Your Credit Report.

It also has information available on how credit scores affect the price of credit and insurance andwhat consumers need to know about their credit reports when looking for a job.  Finally, the FTC has a video for consumers on how to get a free credit report.  

Until next time, I’m Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours. Join my conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or in one of my LinkedIn groups.

Contractor Contracts. Written Contract. Business Law. Copyright Protection.


Contracts. Business Agreements.

Common Business Law Mistake.

A big mistake often made my business owners and entrepreneurs is signing agreements (or any document) without first reading them carefully and/or understanding what they read.  In this day and age, it seems hard to believe that any savvy business owner would enter into a relationship without a signed agreement.  But it happenes ALL THE TIME.  With just one click of a mouse, you can sign away your valuable intellectual property rights and never even know you did it.

In a recent Charleston County, South Carolina intellectual property suit, plaintiff Jim Jones claims that the person he hired to turn his ideas into a series of smart phone applications violated his copyright. Jim Jones argued that since he paid for the work, he owned the work.  Jones’ application was intended to allow people to access cab drivers directly through their phone, effectively bypassing the middleman.

There was no written agreement between the two parties.

“He didn’t deliver,” Jones said.  “I paid him all that money and he didn’t deliver.  PLUS when I complained, he hid the source code and made it so I couldn’t access my own Apps.  When I told him I wanted access to my workproduct, he said, “You don’t own the rights, I do.”  The contractor said, “We don’t have a contract in place, which means that as the creator of the content, I own the rights, not you.”

Lawsuits such as this one are tedious and costly and can damage a small business beyond repair.  This is why it is worth the time and the initial financial outlay to secure a valid and enforceable contract that can withstand a challenge.   A contract prepared and thoroughly researched by a competent intellectual property lawyer . Such an IP business lawyer can help you navigate through contracts to ensure they are skillfully drafted and executed.

For information on how my law practice can help you with your contract needs, complete this form, or call our office at 415-389-0975.

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

Join the conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter, in one of my LinkedIn groups.


Patent Infringement. Lulu Lemon. Calvin Klein Suit. Patent and Trademark.


Intellectual Property – Lululemon Athletica Canada, Inc. v. Calvin Klein, Inc.

Intellectual Property Protection. Patent Infringement.

Intellectual Property Protection. Patent Infringement.

Intellectual Property Attorney Consultation Can Be Worth the Cost.

Investing in an initial conversation with a legal expert BEFORE you venture into using or creating intellectual property can save you valuable time, energy, and money. Getting clear on your long-range IP strategy for protecting your valuable content, ideas, inventions, and more, is likely the best business decision you can ever make.

Yoga Pants Lawsuit.

In a recent case, Lululemon Athletica Canada, Inc. filed suit against Calvin Klein, Inc. for infringement of three of Lululemon’s design patents in multi-waistband yoga pants.

Lululemon’s waistband features an overlapping compression design that makes wearers seem slimmer as well as enhancing athletic performance. The overlapping design has come to serve as a brand-identifier for Lululemon.

Smartly, Lululemon has protected its intellectual property with patents, and now they allege infringement on multiple design aspects of their skin-tight yoga pants. Their claim is that the waistband of Calvin Klein’s yoga pants is substantially similar to their own overlapping waistband.

Both parties have entered into a settlement agreement that will resolve the pending design patent litigation related to the three yoga pant designs.

Intellectual Property Protecttion.

You don’t have to be a giant well know company to have issues with intellectual property. Your small start-up can just as easily be affected. Play it smart from the beginning and speak to an intellectual property lawyer who can help protect you from infringements as well as lawsuits. There is just too much at stake for you to go it alone – but you don’t have to. Contact an attorney today!

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

Join the conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter, in one of my LinkedIn groups.



Bikram Choudhury. Copyright Protection. Copyright Registration.

Copyright Protection

Copyright Protection.

Bikram Yoga Guru Reaches Settlement in Copyright Suit.

There are many different reasons why you should register your original creative content, e.g., books, articles, photographs, jewelry, music, web content, video, blog posts, and more.

Copyright Infringement.

Without a registered copyright with the U.S. Copyright Office, you have little to no chance of even bringing a lawsuit, let alone winning your case. Even if you could sue, it would cost you a fortune to prove that the copyrighted work in question is, in fact, yours. Whether you are initiating a copyright infringement lawsuit or defending one, if your work is unprotected (not registered), you have a steeper mountain to climb.

In a recent copyright suit, Bikram Choudhury, one of the world’s most successful yoga gurus and a pioneer of “hot yoga,” reached a settlement he brought against former protégé Greg Gumucio for teaching his copyrighted sequence of yoga poses.

Copyright Protection for Choreography.

In the 1970’s, Choudhury was among the first leading yogis to trademark his name and protect his yoga routine by copyright.

In a joint statement to “Nightline,” Choudhury and rival Gumucio said they have agreed that starting in February Gumucio’s Yoga To The People studios located in New York City, Seattle, San Francisco and Berkeley, will no longer teach the sequence of 26 Asana poses and dialogue known as Bikram’s Beginning Yoga Class.

“Here you have this traditional knowledge that’s been around for 5,000 years and there was kind of a run on the bank,” Gumucio told “Nightline” in a recent interview. “It’s kind of like if Arnold Schwarzenegger said I’m going to do five bench presses, six curls, seven squats, call it ‘Arnold’s Work’ and nobody can show that or teach that without my permission. That’s crazy to me.”

The U.S. Copyright Office appeared receptive to Gumucio’s argument, clarifying earlier this year that while choreography can be copyrighted that might not be the case for choreography that claims to have medical benefits.

On November 29th a settlement was reached, then approved and posted by a U.S. federal district judge in Los Angeles. In exchange for Gumucio agreeing no longer to teach Choudhury’s yoga routine, Choudhury agreed to drop the suit.

Benefits of Copyright Protection. 

This case highlights the benefits of taking the necessary steps to protect what’s yours. And a copyright registration 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.

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

Until next time, I’m Copyright & Trademark Attorney Francine Ward helping you protect what’s yours!

Join my conversation on Face Book Fan Page, Twitter, and in a LinkedIn Group.

LinkedIn. Social Media Policy. Social Sites.


The era of Social Media brings with it an array new challenges; and not just for the parents of teenagers. Social Media has also fundamentally changed the dynamic between employer and employee.

Dr. Linda Eagle helped start Edcomm, Inc. (A banking and financial services company) in 1987 and served as the company’s President. In 2008 Dr. Eagle set up a LinkedIn account and gave her password to another employee who helped her maintain and update her profile. In October of 2012, Edcomm was sold, but Dr. Eagle and her partners initially stayed on as employees. Then, in June of 2011 they were all terminated.

After cutting ties with Edcomm, Dr. Eagle found that she could no longer access her LinkedIn account. Edcomm employees had changed her password and even made changes to her account profile. Her name and picture were removed from the profile and replaced with the name and picture of her replacement. However, Dr. Eagle’s honors, awards and connections remained on the page.

Edcomm claimed that they had a policy that when an employee left the company, they (Edcomm) would become the new owners of the employees LinkedIn account. Dr. Eagle filed suit claiming that potential customers and business contacts could no longer obtain her contact information and claimed potential losses upwards of $100,000.

On October 4th of 2012, Judge Ronald L. Buckwalter of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania dismissed Dr. Eagle’s claims and granted summary judgment for Edcomm. Judge Buckwalter ruled that Dr. Eagle did not provide enough support for her damage claims, many of which are not compensable under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.

If anything, this case serves to highlight the need for clear and concise Social Media policies on the part of employers, and the need for awareness and understanding of these policies on the part of employees. Who said the era of Social Media would be free of legal and ethical pitfalls?

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

Join the conversation on my Facebook Fan Page, on Twitter, in one of my LinkedIn groups.