Inventors and entrepreneurs often find that they need to obtain a trademark to protect their intellectual property from being used by another company. After a quick glance at the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (“USPTO”) website you will see that registering your trademark is a multi-step, complicated process. As a result, many people choose to work with an experienced paralegal or attorney to complete their trademark application. If you’d like to do it yourself, you will need to follow these steps.

1. Identify your mark – The USPTO offers three formats for identifying your trademark. Specifically you can choose between:

a. Standard Mark
b. Stylized Mark
c. Design Mark

2. Identify your good and services – You must specifically identify the goods or services that the mark will apply to. You may need to identify more than one good or service category for your mark.

3. Search the USPTO database – You must conduct a complete search of the USPTO database for marks to ensure that no one else is making a claim to the same mark.

4. Provide the proper basis for your application – In order for your filing to be accepted you must provide the USPTO with the proper basis for filing your application.

5. Pay the applicable fees – Any fees paid to the USPTO are considered processing fees and are nonrefundable, as a result you should be sure you are filing the application properly.

6. File trademark application – Trademark applications may be filed by mail or via an online application.

If you’d like more information on applying for a trademark, feel free to contact us. We will be happy to answer your questions.

A parenting plan is a formal agreement filed with the court, between the parents of minor children who do not live together. Parenting plans are often created during the divorce or legal separation or when a custody dispute arises. Parenting plans address issues relating to physical and legal custody of minor children.

If one parent fails to comply with a court approved parenting plan, the other parent can file a motion to hold the offending parent in contempt of the court order. This motion is a civil remedy in family court to enforce the original parenting agreement. The circumstances surrounding the violation of the parenting agreement will be addressed by the court and the parent that violated the parenting plan may have the opportunity to explain the circumstances around the violation and may be given an opportunity to remedy the situation.

If violations continue, the offending parent may be found in contempt of court. If a parent has been held in contempt of court twice in the last three years, he or she may be subject to the courts changing or revoking their rights to physical or legal custody of the child or children. Avoiding contempt charges by complying with the original parenting agreement or requesting a modification is the best way to ensure the children’s needs are met and the rights of each parent are protected.

Business owners are creative, proactive and talented. They are able to see an opportunity to create a new industry or recognize an opening in a current market and are able to seize upon it. A paralegal that is well versed in business creation and corporate formation can be an invaluable asset to a business owner. Selecting the appropriate business form is an important step to creating a successful business and an experienced paralegal can assist with:

• Selecting the proper form for the business – businesses can take a number of forms including:
o Sole Proprietorship
o Limited Partnership
o Corporation
o Limited Liability Company

Each business form has its own benefits and draw backs. For example, corporations protect personal assets from company errors but also come with limitations. Sole proprietorships are simple to form but do not provide any protection from personal liability.

An experienced corporate paralegal can also help with:

• Completing and filing the appropriate documents
o Fictitious Business Name Statements
o Articles of Incorporation
o Partnership Agreements
o Bylaws
o Operating Agreements

Having your paperwork in order can be a huge stress reliever. Calling in the right help and using a corporate paralegal to provide the legal structure for your business frees you as the business owner to focus on other thinks, like growing your business.

Electronic Discovery (“e-discovery”) is the broad term that covers the exchange of electronically stored information (“ESI”) during civil litigation. Recognizing the inherent differences between paper documents and ESI the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were amended on December 1, 2010 to address the issues that often arise with e-discovery.

Successfully responding to a request for production that relates to e-discovery is a multistep process that can be made much simpler with the proper support. Parties to a lawsuit may find that working with an experienced paralegal can limit the expenses associated with the request for production. Attorneys will find that working with an experienced paralegal can help them streamline their response process. To comply with an e-discovery request one must:

1. Identify potentially responsive documents and identify the individuals that are in possession of the relevant information.
2. Preserve the documents identified as potentially responsive and place a legal hold on the information.
3. Collect relevant data for submission to the attorney’s office for review.
4. Process documents so that they are accessible and converted to a paper like format allowing easier redaction, indexing and bates numbering.
5. Review the documents for their responsiveness to the request and possible withholding for privilege.
6. Produce the documents that have been identified as responsive and not protected by privilege.

An experienced paralegal can help you sort through the identification, preservation and collection steps in the e-discovery process, making things easier and more cost effective.