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Marijuana And DUI: Is Florida Ready?

Posted on: March 8, 2016 by in BLOG, DUI
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Marijuana is about to become a much bigger part of everyday life in Florida. One strain of cannabis will soon be cultivated here legally. A number of Florida municipalities are decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana. And another proposed constitutional amendment to legalize marijuana for medicinal use in Florida, the Right to Medical Marijuana Initiative, is proposed for the Florida ballot in November. Any way you measure it, pot consumption is probably about to skyrocket in Florida, and in the words of Tampa Bay Times columnist John Romano, “Florida ain’t ready for it,” at least when it comes to determining whether or not someone is driving under the influence of marijuana. If you’re charged with DUI– whether it’s related to pot, alcohol, or some other intoxicant – speak at once with a good DUI attorney, and in central Florida with an experienced Daytona Beach DUI lawyer.

If you use any intoxicating drug or substance, whether or not that drug or substance is legal, and you get in a motorized vehicle and drive it, you can be arrested in Florida and prosecuted for driving under the influence (DUI). Drug-related DUI charges are more difficult legally than alcohol-related charges because most states set no “legal limit” for intoxication levels except for alcohol. In all fifty states, it’s against the law to drive with a blood alcohol content (BAC) level at or above 0.08 percent, for example, but there’s no specified level or limit for cannabis intoxication in many states such as Florida. Twelve states declare a driver legally impaired if any trace of tetrahydrocannabinol (or THC, the active ingredient in marijuana) is found in a driver’s bloodstream. Two states set the impairment level at five nanograms of THC, two states set it at two nanograms, and in one state the legal impairment level is one nanogram of THC.

Although a couple of states tried decriminalizing marijuana back in the 1970s, nationwide efforts to reform marijuana laws only became serious and successful in the 21st century. As more and more states legalize or decriminalize pot for recreational and/or medical purposes, more drivers are being charged in every state with marijuana-DUI, and it’s becoming a genuine national safety concern. Three out of ten drivers in fatal California traffic crashes now test positive for an intoxicant other than alcohol, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Daytona Beach DUI lawyer

HOW HIGH IS TOO HIGH?

How can we know when someone is too high to drive after smoking marijuana? There are no easy answers. At this time, there’s no relatively convenient way for a police officer to make a precise determination. There’s not even any consistent agreement about what “level” of marijuana intoxication would constitute “impairment” for the purpose of driving. Blood tests can tell us the amount of THC in the bloodstream, but the problem with marijuana is that THC residue remains in the bloodstream for days and sometimes weeks after the pot was smoked and the intoxication has long since faded. A person may test positive for THC while driving completely sober, days after smoking. Frequent users – including patients using pot for medicinal reasons – will almost certainly measure at least some trace amount of THC in their blood, whether or not they’re high at a given moment. Thus, using a THC level alone as a legal determinant of intoxication is comparable to charging someone with DUI because he or she drank a beer or two a week ago.

As medical and recreational marijuana use becomes legal in a growing number of states, police officers, prosecutors, and judges say they need tools that can measure the intoxication levels of marijuana-impaired drivers with reasonable accuracy. Thus, the race is on to develop an effective equivalent to the handheld breathalyzer devices used by police officers to determine a driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC) level. “To the best of my knowledge, nobody has undertaken the experiments necessary to correlate blood or breath concentration levels with impairment,” Dr. Rick Yost, a University of Florida researcher who is working to develop a marijuana breathalyzer device, told the Tampa Bay Times.

Daytona Beach DUI lawyer

IS A POT BREATHALYZER POSSIBLE?

Dr. Yost isn’t the only researcher working on the problem. What the criminal justice system really wants is a hand-held marijuana breathalyzer unit that police officers can use to learn if a driver is not only high but “how high.” In the end, such a device may not even be possible. Nevertheless, a number of research teams and technology companies are trying to develop a reliable pot breathalyzer. At Washington State University, researchers are engineering a device that uses “ion mobility spectrometry.” In Colorado, Lifeloc Technologies manufactures breathalyzers, and the company has obtained a $250,000 grant from the state of Colorado to design a hand-held pot breathalyzer for police officers on patrol. University researchers sometimes face legal obstacles because marijuana is still classified by the federal government as a Schedule One drug – the “most dangerous” classification. “We’ve certainly never conducted tests at this university because it’s been illegal,” UF’s Dr. Yost told the Times.

Here in Florida, State Representative Dave Kerner of Lake Worth has handled DUI cases from several perspectives. He’s a former police officer as well as a former prosecutor. When a 16-year-old Palm Beach County girl died last year in a traffic collision involving a driver with THC in his bloodstream, Kerner proposed to the legislature a marijuana impairment standard to be used only in traffic fatality cases. Based on current laws in other states, Kerner suggested five nanograms of THC. “I’m open to changing it,” Kerner tells the Times. “More than anything, I want us to have a conversation and a dialogue legislatively so we can arrive at the right answer. I’m supportive of relaxing our marijuana laws, but the reality is if we do that, we have to have a system in place for accountability. And right now, it doesn’t exist.”

Also right now, however, “The science does not yet exist to determine impairment levels,” according to Jodi James, executive director of the Florida Cannabis Network. She opposes the five-nanogram proposal, telling the Tampa Bay Times that “we can’t just use some arbitrary scale that could potentially ruin someone’s life.” UCLA public policy professor Mark Kleiman agrees. He is one of many observers who believe that lawmakers and the courts should abandon the measurement of intoxication levels and that the law should instead focus on actual, impaired driving behavior. And that’s actually what the law in Florida does right now.

Daytona Beach DUI lawyer

WHAT ARE THE PENALTIES FOR A DUI CONVICTION?

You can be arrested and charged with DUI in Florida if a police officer reasonably believes that you are too intoxicated to drive. Under that circumstance, no “measurement” of your impairment level is required. In fact, you can be convicted of DUI in Florida without any kind of sobriety test if there’s other persuasive evidence that you were driving while intoxicated. That evidence could include video of you driving, an officer’s testimony that you were intoxicated, the discovery of marijuana on your person or in your vehicle, and/or a blood test confirming THC in your bloodstream. If you are convicted of a “simple” DUI charge in Florida – in other words, you injured no one, damaged no property, and no other crime was linked to the DUI – the penalties are:

  • For a first offense: up to nine months in jail, a one-year driver’s license suspension, and a fine of up to $2,000
  • For a second offense: up to a year in jail, a five-year driver’s license suspension, and a fine of up to $4,000
  • For a third offense: up to a year in jail, a ten-year driver’s license suspension, and a fine of up to $5,000

Since 2002, the installation of an ignition interlock device in personal vehicles is required of all Florida DUI offenders when the driver’s license suspension is lifted. While the legal penalties for a Florida DUI conviction can be extensive, DUI offenders also face considerable extra-legal penalties. A DUI conviction is certain to increase your auto insurance rates, and those rates will very like never come back down. If you drive for a living or if driving is a big part of your work, you’ll have employment trouble. And if you hold a professional license or a security clearance, that license or clearance will almost certainly be challenged and possibly revoked.

In November of this year, every voter in Florida will once again be asked if marijuana should be legalized in this state for medical use. A similar initiative on the November 2014 ballot was defeated even though 57 percent voted to legalize medical marijuana. Florida’s constitution requires a 60 percent majority to pass such initiatives, but supporters believe they can make up a three percent difference this year. Ben Pollara, the director of United For Care, says the 2016 initiative contains explicit language clarifying areas that opponents were concerned about in 2014, such as forbidding minors from obtaining medical marijuana without parental consent.

The criminal justice system in every state is cracking down on marijuana-related DUI, so if you face the charge, do not assume that you’ll “walk” or “skate” because it’s only a misdemeanor or a first offense. If you are charged with DUI related to marijuana, alcohol, or any other intoxicant, get the legal help you need and contact a good DUI attorney at once, and in central Florida, contact an experienced Daytona Beach DUI lawyer as quickly as possible.

Intellectual Property – And How To Protect It

Posted on: February 10, 2016 by in BLOG, Intellectual Property
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If you own a small business, you probably already know that your intellectual property or “IP” includes your new product and service ideas, advertising and marketing strategies, financial information, your customer and vendor information, and your manufacturing processes. It also includes any trademarks, logos, or slogans that you use to market or advertise your goods or services. The reason that your intellectual property gives you a competitive advantage, quite frankly, is because it belongs solely and exclusively to you and your company. However, there may be times when another party – an employee, a vendor, an investor, or a potential client – needs access to your intellectual property. How can you protect your IP assets from exploitation or from unauthorized disclosure in such situations?

Crafting and establishing a plan to protect your company’s intellectual property is an imperative and never-ending task if you want to compete successfully over the long term in the 21st-century marketplace. Without regard to the specific type of small business you own, your IP security plan should not only protect your intellectual property assets, but it should also help you to take more commercial advantage of your IP. Traditionally, proprietary interests in intellectual property have been protected by trademark, copyright, and patent laws. However, with the emergence of a service-and-information-based economy, intellectual property has in recent decades expanded to include computer passwords, consumer data, vendor and customer lists, business strategies and projections, and much more. The IP laws currently on the books may or may not protect your intellectual property from unauthorized use, so you’ll need to include contracts – employment and consulting agreements, non-disclosure agreements, and non-compete agreements – as part of your IP protection plan.

AN IP PROTECTION PLAN

The first step in any intellectual property protection plan is to determine what elements belonging to your business generate or add to its value. If those elements are unique to your company, they need legal protection. How you legally protect specific intellectual properties will depend, of course, on precisely what those properties are. For example, if detailed knowledge of your customers’ buying habits and preferences is critical to your sales success, those details must be kept safe from unauthorized access or disclosure. That can be accomplished through a combination of steps: restricting employee access, allowing remote access only through a secure, password-protected connection, banning the storage of data on portable devices, and establishing confidentiality obligations through employment contracts or employment manuals.

Here’s another example. If you order tooling from a vendor for a proprietary manufacturing process, you’ll want that vendor to keep your designs and sketches confidential, so your purchase order will need to include an agreement preventing any unauthorized use or disclosure of your intellectual property. If you produce software, it’s hard to stop piracy, but you can put security features into the code to prevent the software’s use without a “key.” If employees or consultants help with code development, employment and consulting agreements will be needed to establish your ownership of the code.

Daytona Beach intellectual property attorney

SEEK AN ATTORNEY’S HELP

Obviously, the IP protection plan that you implement must be appropriate to the nature of your business and your intellectual property. In many businesses, at least some intellectual property can be easily accessed by employees – particularly the data regarding your customers. You do not want employees leaving and taking your customers to a competitor, so your company’s internal policies must function to prevent losses and to compel compliance with your employee confidentiality rules or agreements. In some states, non-compete agreements can offer you some limited help; have your intellectual property attorney advise you regarding the efficacy of non-compete agreements in your own state.

When intellectual property is created for you by an independent contractor, that contractor is presumed under the law to be the creator or inventor of that property in the absence of a contractual agreement establishing your legal ownership. Insist on the appropriate contractual provisions in such circumstances, or you might find yourself paying for software development – or for the creation of other intellectual property – that you will end up not actually owning.

USING RESTRICTIVE COVENANTS

As a business owner, you probably already know under what circumstances it is necessary to disclose or to share your company’s intellectual property. Employees and vendors may need access to perform their jobs. Prospective investors may want to inspect your IP to help them estimate the value of your company. Depending on the type of business you’re in, sometimes even customers may need access to your IP. In these circumstances, you have the right to request a restrictive covenant. The form, extent, and length of such an agreement must address the particular business risks associated with the unauthorized disclosure of your intellectual property. Be reasonable and proportionate, and seek advice regarding restrictive covenants from an IP attorney who is familiar with your operation. In Florida, consult with an experienced Daytona Beach intellectual property attorney.

Unless it can be enforced, a restrictive covenant is useless. A restrictive covenant can be included in an employment or consulting contract, a purchase order, or a non-disclosure agreement. However it is done, it is imperative to have a restrictive covenant in place before you share your company’s intellectual property with others. A restrictive covenant should make clear the damage that you may sustain and the legal remedies you will seek if a breach takes place. A reasonable restrictive covenant can give you grounds for legal relief in the event that your intellectual property is disclosed or used in an unauthorized manner.

A good IP attorney can help you with the legal details and the precise language for restrictive covenants appropriate to your own situation. If a third party seems hesitant to sign a restrictive covenant, you may want to reconsider your entire arrangement with that party. Naturally, any intellectual property of value that is created by employees, contractors, consultants, or vendors within the scope of their employment or agreement with your own company should be your property. Let your IP attorney help you determine the best way for you to retain ownership of that property.

Daytona Beach intellectual property attorney

TRADEMARKS AND TRADEMARK REGISTRATION

Another important legal tool available to business owners implementing an IP protection plan is trademark registration. The Lanham Trademark Act of 1946 facilitates the registration of the trademarks or service marks that you use to market and “brand” your company’s services or products. A trademark can be words, symbols, pictures, icons, designs, logos, or a combination of any or all of these. To be registered, a trademark must distinguish your products or services from those of other companies so that your trademark “symbolizes” your company’s products or services. A protected, registered trademark is one of a successful company’s most valuable assets. The federal registration of trademarks gives small business owners substantial legal and commercial benefits. Registration is proof of a trademark’s validity and ownership. However, in some cases even unregistered “common law” trademarks may be enforceable under state and federal unfair competition statutes and other laws governing deceptive business practices.

Before registering your trademark, your IP attorney should conduct a search to determine if a similar trademark is already in use by another company. Applying to register a trademark can be a confusing and lengthy procedure – it can sometimes take more than a year – and it really should be handled by an experienced trademark lawyer. So long as you submit all of the required renewal forms and documents in a timely manner, your trademark registration will remain valid and enforceable. A good trademark attorney can also answer your questions about – and help you obtain – international trademark protection.

THE ULTIMATE RESPONSIBILITY IS YOURS

Once you decide – with an IP attorney’s help – on the best IP protection plan for your business, remember that your plan is meaningless unless you are willing and able to enforce it proactively both within your company and with third parties. Ultimately, as the company’s owner, you are the figure responsible for monitoring your employees, contractors, and others who have access to your intellectual property. Your internal policies and practices must reaffirm your commitment to protecting your intellectual property, and you must take the necessary legal steps if your IP is infringed.

Finally, the most important element in any intellectual property protection plan will be the advice and services of an experienced intellectual property attorney. From handling your trademark registration to representing you if necessary in infringement litigation, having the advice and insights of an IP attorney is imperative. Find an attorney that you personally like and that you can work with, someone who is willing to learn about you and your business, and someone you can count on for “the long haul.” The more your attorney knows and understands your business operation, the more effectively that attorney will be able to help you. In Florida, small business owners can obtain the legal advice and services they need by contacting an experienced Daytona Beach intellectual property attorney. Don’t wait. If you own a small business anywhere in the United States, and if your intellectual property does not have the comprehensive legal protection it needs – or if you’re not even certain what might qualify as intellectual property – make the call to a good IP lawyer as quickly as possible.

Trademark Scams Are On The Rise

Posted on: January 16, 2016 by in BLOG, Intellectual Property
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If you ever receive in the mail what appears to be an invoice for trademark-related services, contact a good trademark attorney before you pay it. It’s probably a trademark scam. Trademark scams are on the rise in the United States, and a mailing that asks you to send a fee or payment is the “trademark” modus operandi, so to speak, of the trademark scam artists. If you receive any suspicious mail or email regarding your logo, speak to an experienced intellectual property attorney about that mail or email immediately.

A trademark can be any word, phrase, symbol, or name that identifies and distinguishes the products or services of one business from those of another business. Registering a trademark is not required by law, but if you own a small or mid-sized business, it’s a smart idea to protect yourself and to register your logo with the help of a good intellectual property lawyer. In central Florida, contact an experienced Daytona Beach logo attorney. If you have a logo, you want it to be registered and protected. Trademark registration provides your business with some considerable advantages, and it helps to protect you from logo infringement and from a number of common logo scams.

TRADEMARK RIGHTS AND RESTRICTIONS

Even if it’s never registered, you have some basic legal rights regarding your logo, but registration gives you the legal right to prevent others from using a confusingly similar word, slogan, or symbol. Trademarks for interstate and international commerce should be registered through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). When you register your logo, it’s a legal, public record of the trademark’s ownership, and you acquire the exclusive legal right to use your logo, the right to protect it in court if necessary, and you receive a listing in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s online database. Additionally, you may use the symbol “®” to indicate that your trademark is federally registered.

There are some restrictions. Under federal law, the USPTO may refuse to register a logo that is explicitly pornographic or that disparages a particular group. You are probably familiar with the ongoing controversy regarding the logo of the National Football League’s franchise in Washington, D.C., a logo that some believe disparages Native Americans. Almost every business in today’s marketplace works hard to create a positive public image, so for small business owners, the right trademark – clever, easy-to-remember, and offensive to no one – is a high-priority consideration.

Daytona Beach trademark attorney

A COMPLICATED LEGAL PROCEDURE

When you apply for a logo with the USPTO, you are initiating a legal procedure that may become quite complicated. That procedure will compel you to comply with all the requirements of the logo laws and regulations, so you’ll need your own experienced intellectual property attorney’s help. No USPTO attorney may provide legal advice to logo registrants. After you have retained legal counsel, the USPTO will communicate only with your attorney regarding your logo application.

Prior to having your logo registered, have your attorney conduct a search for similar trademarks already in use. Conducting a thorough logo search prior to filing your application is imperative because the results may indicate possible problems with your logo, such as the potential for confusion with a prior registered trademark or with a logo in a pending application. A comprehensive trademark search can save you the expense of applying in futility for a logo that you may not receive because another party has stronger legal rights to it.

CHOOSE YOUR TRADEMARK CAREFULLY

Applying to register a trademark is a long and often-convoluted procedure – it can take more than a year – that should be handled only by an experienced intellectual property lawyer. Provided that you routinely submit the renewal documents and that you don’t miss any deadlines, your logo registration stays permanently in effect. Any infringement of your logo by any other party constitutes grounds for legal action. It is legal for someone to model or base their own logo upon yours, but that trademark must be designed so that there is no confusion. Have your brand registered and acquire the legal protection that registration provides. Don’t wait. If you have an unregistered trademark now or in the future, register it promptly with a good trademark attorney’s help.

Only the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office can approve the registration of your brand, so before you register a trademark, select it carefully, because not every trademark is registrable with the USPTO. Nor – according to the USPTO – is every trademark legally protectable. That is, some trademarks simply may not be capable of serving as the basis for a legal claim by an owner seeking to stop others from using a similar trademark. Sometimes businesses and individuals choose for their product or service a logo that may be difficult or even impossible to register or protect for any number of reasons. Before you file a logo application, determine if the trademark that you want to register is registrable, and consider how difficult it may be to protect. An experienced trademark attorney will be able to provide the advice you need.

You should also consider a number of other factors before conclusively settling on a logo. Are the potential customers or clients in your target market or target demographic likely to remember and to pronounce and spell properly your selected brand? The most successful trademarks are short and easy to remember, like “Nike” and “Pepsi.” If you plan to market your goods or services outside of the U.S. with the same brand, find out first if it might have another meaning when translated into a different language, particularly if, for example, the translated word could be considered offensive.

TRADEMARK SCAMS ARE COMMON

You also need to be aware of trademark scams. They’re common, they’re everywhere, and in fact, as soon as you apply to register a logo, you’ll probably be targeted by the trademark scam criminals. Trademark applicants and owners routinely receive official-looking, trademark-related solicitations through the mail or through email. These communications sometimes claim to be official notices from the USPTO requesting payment of fees, and they’re usually formatted to look quite official and intimidating. Protect yourself from these criminals. If you receive these communications – and inevitably if you apply to register a brand, you will – you should know that they are trademark scams. They are not official notices from the U.S government, but instead they are deceptive attempts to trick logo owners into paying fraudulent fees.

If you have retained an intellectual property attorney to handle your brand registration, the USPTO will communicate exclusively with your attorney. Only if you do not have legal counsel will the USPTO communicate directly with you. All official correspondence – whether to you directly or to your logo lawyer – will come from the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, Virginia. Email communications will come from the domain “uspto.gov.” If you receive an email from any other domain, it is not official. Be particularly careful when you receive a communication from a source with a name that resembles the USPTO name, including, for example, one or more of the terms “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.”

uspto 2

HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

In response to logo scams, the USPTO has issued a warning to brand applicants and registrants. The International Trademark Association, the world’s largest network of trademark owners and professionals, has joined the USPTO and issued its own warning as well. How can you protect yourself from trademark scams?

  • Read the communication thoroughly so that you can identify its source.
  • Confirm that the communication comes from the USPTO in Alexandria, Virginia, or from an email address that ends with “uspto.gov.”
  • Know what the USPTO’s official filing fees are. The USPTO publishes its fee schedule.
  • Present the communication to your trademark attorney and obtain your attorney’s advice. You may simply be told to ignore or throw away the communication, or it may be something that should be reported to the Federal Trade Commission, which investigates and acts on widespread complaints about particular companies or business practices. Your intellectual property attorney will suggest the best course of action – if any.
  • Trust your instincts. Question anything you receive that is unexpected or seems suspicious to you regarding your brand.

The federal government is actively prosecuting the criminals who run brand scams. In October, a California man was indicted by federal authorities for his role in a mass mailing scam targeting trademark holders. Artashes Darbinyan, 35, of Glendale, California, was charged in the Central District of California with twelve counts of mail fraud and four counts of aggravated identity theft. According to the indictment, from September 2013 through September 2015, Darbinyan operated the “Trademark Compliance Center,” which purported to offer brand registration and monitoring services. The indictment further alleges that Darbinyan sent mass solicitations to holders of trademarks recently registered with the USPTO offering, for a fee, to register the holders’ trademarks with U.S. Customs and Border Protection, and to send regular reports of potentially confusing or infringing trademarks. According to the indictment, Darbinyan never intended to, and did not, provide any of the services he promised.

If your small business requires legal advice or representation regarding a brand or any other matter impacting your company’s intellectual property, consult as quickly as possible with an intellectual property lawyer, and in central Florida, with an experienced Daytona Beach brand attorney. If a dispute arises regarding your trademark, your trademark attorney can defend your rights and interests using whatever legal tools are necessary. If you own a small business, don’t wait. Contact an experienced trademark attorney as quickly as possible about brand protection and the other legal services that your small business needs.

A New Twist On An Old Conflict

Posted on: November 23, 2015 by in BLOG, Business Law
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With the emergence of popular social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook over the last decade, the eternal struggle between employee privacy and an employer’s best interests has taken on a new dimension. If you think your social media accounts are something like a private hobby, think again. In Florida, employers can ask for social media log-in information, and they can fire employees who don’t provide it. If you are an employer in Volusia, Seminole, Orange, or Flagler County, speak right away with an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney if you have any questions or concerns regarding your rights as an employer and the privacy rights of your employees.

The question of an employer’s right to access an employee’s social media accounts emerged beginning in 2012, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. That’s the year when several state and local government agencies in Maryland and Oklahoma began asking for Facebook passwords as part of routine pre-employment background checks. State Senator Jeff Clemens of Lake Worth is now proposing legislation – Senate Bill 186 – that would bar employers from requesting user names, passwords, or any other means of accessing the social media accounts of employees or employment candidates. Employers could not retaliate against employees who refuse. The bill also would prohibit employers from refusing to hire someone on the basis of a job applicant’s refusal to provide access to a social media account. Workers could sue if the proposal becomes law and recover up to $500 per violation.

The proposal will be considered by the 2016 Florida Legislature, and if it becomes law, it would take effect next October 1.The laws impacting small businesses are changing all the time, so every central Florida small business owner needs routine and regular access to the advice and services of an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney. Learn more about your rights as an employer and the rights of your employees by meeting with a small business attorney as quickly as possible.

Protect Your Trademark

Posted on: November 20, 2015 by in BLOG, Business Law
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When Christine Palmerton launched a brand called “NautiGirl” in 2008, she was simply printing the image of a blue-haired young woman at the wheel of a ship on items like mugs, baseball caps, and boating-related products and accessories. Ms. Palmerton’s niche market – female boaters – was narrow, but Ms. Palmerton, the owner of a yacht charter company, enjoyed the work. She established a website, promoted her brand at trade shows, and filed a brand application for the blue-haired “NautiGirl” logo. In 2013, Ms. Palmerton was sued for brand infringement by Nautica, a brand owned by VF Corporation of Greensboro, North Carolina. Ms. Palmerton fought back.

A logo is defined as any word, phrase, or graphic used to distinguish one company’s goods or services from other companies. When you register a brand, you can take legal action to stop others from “infringing” on it with a similar word, phrase, or graphic. In central Florida, when you register a trademark, or if you become part of a legal logo dispute, obtain the legal assistance you need by contacting an experienced Daytona Beach small business lawyer. Trademarks for interstate and international commerce should be registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (PTO). Let an experienced small business attorney help.

After a nearly three-year fight before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, Ms. Palmerton prevailed over Nautica, and the effort to stop her from using her logo was dismissed. The Trademark Trial and Appeal Board determined that Nautica doesn’t control the ocean-themed prefix “Nauti-.” Trademark law protects small businesses like Ms. Palmerton’s, and Nautica failed to prove that the “NautiGirl” trademark infringed on the Nautica logo. If you are using a name, a phrase, or a logo or some other design as a logo, get the legal protection that logo needs, and arrange to discuss trademark registration as quickly as possible with an experienced Daytona Beach small business lawyer.

Don’t Let DUI Change Your Life

Posted on: November 18, 2015 by in BLOG, DUI
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Do not drink and drive in Florida. No matter how inconvenient it may be, you simply can’t take the risk. A first-offense misdemeanor DWI conviction is serious enough, but if you are involved in a traffic accident, and you are intoxicated, you could face a punishment that changes your entire life. In Broward County, for example, a woman named Kayla Mendoza tweeted “2 drunk 2 care” only moments before killing two young women while driving under the influence. At the time of the collision, Ms. Mendoza was 20. She is now serving 24 years in prison for DUI manslaughter.

Anyone can make a mistake. Most Florida drivers charged with DWI are first offenders charged with misdemeanors – regular people from all walks of life who made a bad judgment and won’t let it happen again. If the charge against you is a first-offense misdemeanor DUI charge in Volusia, Seminole, Orange, or Flagler County, let an experienced Daytona Beach DUI lawyer help. If you injure someone – or if you are responsible for a fatality and the charge is DUI manslaughter – a conviction is punishable with a mandatory four-year prison term, and in some cases, that sentence can be much longer. If you tweet “2 drunk 2 care” and then you kill two people, you can’t expect leniency.

It’s always worth saying again – don’t drink and drive. Still, if you are charged with DWI for any reason, fight the charge. According to Florida Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) data, 55,722 drivers were cited for DUI in Florida in 2011, but only 33,625 were convicted. Usually, a good DWI attorney can find something that will help your case. Good DWI lawyers prevail routinely on behalf of their clients in this state. If you are charged with DWI, do not take any additional risks. Put your case in the hands of an experienced Daytona Beach DUI lawyer immediately.

Suggestions For New Business Owners

Posted on: November 16, 2015 by in BLOG, Business Law
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If you are starting up a new profession  in central Florida, congratulations. Starting a new profession can be exciting and ultimately gratifying – but it can also cause you a great deal of stress and anxiety. A small business owner must satisfy a large number of obligations and responsibilities. Start by consulting as quickly as possible with an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney. You’ll have lots of legal paperwork that must be accurate and complete, and you’ll need to know about and comply with dozens of state, federal, and local laws and regulations. Listed here, some suggestions for new owners of Florida small businesses:

  • Create a business plan with the help of a trustworthy small profession lawyer. Include a profit-and-loss forecast, a break-even analysis, and a cash flow projection.
  • Don’t spend needlessly. Don’t rent space that you don’t immediately need. Until you have full-time work for employees, stick to hiring independent contractors.
  • Purchase – and make sure that you understand – liability insurance.
  • If your business will be accumulating debt, form a corporation or a limited liability company (LLC). Your attorney can help.
  • Pay your payroll taxes – and any other payments due – on time. You don’t want to be personally liable for payroll taxes or establish a bad reputation with creditors.
  • Leases, rental agreements, purchase orders, employment policies – get them all in writing. Let your small business lawyer review any document that might be important.

Businesses in Florida and every other state are extensively regulated, but for the most part, those regulations protect you, your employees, and the general public. There’s no reason your business cannot flourish if you plan diligently and obtain sound legal advice. Frankly, having the counsel of an experienced small profession attorney is an imperative for any small business owner. If you are starting up a small profession in Volusia, Flagler, Orange, or Seminole County, arrange at once to meet with an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney.

Avoiding Tenant-Landlord Disputes

Posted on: November 13, 2015 by in BLOG, Real Estate
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If you’re a landlord in Florida, you need to protect yourself with a strong and precisely-drafted lease. Let an experienced Daytona Beach real estate lawyer help. Landlords and tenants in this state are not required to have leases, but both parties nevertheless have legal obligations and rights. A lease spells out clearly the rights and obligations of landlords as well as tenants. It’s imperative for Florida landlords to have legal advice they can trust and to have help drafting and reviewing lease agreements. If you are a landlord in Volusia, Seminole, Orange, or Flagler County, speak right away with an experienced Daytona Beach real estate lawyer about the legal advice and services you need now or may need in the future.

In an ideal world, every landlord has a friendly and honest working relationship with every tenant – and if it’s possible, you should strive to have that kind of rapport with your own tenants. Make sure that you and the tenant are both completely comfortable with every aspect of the rental agreement. A lease should spell out precisely the security deposit amounts, rent amounts, and due dates; the rules regarding pets and children; and the details regarding lease renewal, subleasing, and termination of the lease.

Putting solutions in place before problems arise should be one of your priorities as a landlord. Florida’s real estate laws are complicated, detailed, and sometimes baffling, and residential tenants in Florida are given some legal rights and protections to ensure fair treatment. If a tenant-landlord dispute emerges, you need to be represented by an experienced Daytona Beach real estate lawyer who will fight aggressively on your behalf. If an eviction is required, a real estate attorney can help you do it legally, effectively, and as swiftly as possible. A precisely-worded lease, a friendly relationship with tenants, and the counsel of an experienced Daytona Beach real estate lawyer are the three ways to avoid legal disputes. Obtain the reliable legal help you need if you’re a landlord, and make the call right away to an experienced Daytona Beach real estate lawyer.

Background Checks And The Hiring Dilemma

Posted on: November 11, 2015 by in BLOG, Business Law
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To say that “owning a small business is complicated” is an understatement, as every business owner knows. Whether you’re struggling to understand and comply with wage-and-hour laws, tax requirements, zoning and environmental regulations, or other legal matters that confront profession owners on a daily basis, you need to work with a trustworthy small business lawyer who can help you put legal solutions in place before problems emerge. If you’re not already working alongside an experienced Daytona Beach small business lawyer, arrange a consultation as soon as possible.

Knowing who your employees are is imperative, because if you don’t, you may expose yourself potentially to civil lawsuits, and you also place your intellectual property at risk. Thanks to quick-and-cheap online background checks, learning about someone’s background is now much easier than it used to be, especially for smaller businesses where owners operate with a small staff and a tight budget. However, background checks are legally regulated, so those who conduct them must use caution. You cannot violate antidiscrimination laws when you’re hiring, and you cannot violate the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FCRA forbids any background check that a job candidate does not give an employer permission to conduct, and it requires employers to give applicants the opportunity to dispute damaging information returned by a background check.

An experienced Daytona Beach small profession attorney can help you comply with the regulations regarding background checks. Take action now to protect yourself, your business, and your employees. If you’re based in central Florida, an experienced Daytona Beach small profession attorney can help you make good hiring decisions while remaining in compliance with the FCRA and other state and federal hiring statutes. If you have any questions or concerns about hiring, background checks, or any legal matter impacting your small business, make the call at once to an experienced Daytona Beach small business lawyer.

When Lawyers Go Fishing

Posted on: November 9, 2015 by in BLOG, Business Law
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If you own a small business, you immediately become a target. Some people think young profession  owners are all wealthy fat-cats, so you’ll need legal protection. Make sure that you have sufficient liability insurance, and let an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney look over your business to make sure that you’re in compliance with the law. If – despite your best efforts to protect yourself – you do become the target of a lawsuit, a Daytona Beach small business attorney can aggressively represent you and your interests.

Over the last two years, a Minneapolis lawyer named Paul Hansmeier has used the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) to sue small businesses all over Minnesota. He uses people with disabilities to file discrimination claims against mom-and-pop businesses that can’t afford to fight in court. All the business owners that Hansmeier has sued would have gladly renovated, fixed, or rearranged their establishments to meet the ADA’s requirements, but Hansmeier seems to be interested only in quick settlements, according to representatives of Minnesota business and disability rights organizations. Hansmeier, who maintains that he’s only a humble defender of the disabled, is not the only lawyer who’s gone fishing with the ADA. Several lawyers across the country have learned how lucrative it can be to sue small businesses over minor ADA violations.

An experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney can make certain that your own central Florida young profession is in full compliance with the ADA and all other applicable state and federal laws. If you are dragged into court because you are being sued – or because you’ve been cited by the government – a Daytona Beach small business attorney can provide the negotiating skills and aggressive representation that you’ll require. Before legal trouble seeks you out, seek out the advice and services of an experienced Daytona Beach small business attorney. Make the call and begin protecting yourself and your young profession as quickly as possible.