fake news, fake trademark, mask

Fake Trademark Application for “Fake News?”

What does “fake news” mean to you?

The first thing that usually comes to mind is President Donald Trump, right?  His opponents say this term only comes out when he is the subject of an unflattering news story.  No matter what side of the political aisle you stand, we can all agree there is an inordinate amount of over-hyped and inaccurate information disseminated across social media and news outlets.

One Canadian advertising agency, Wax Partnership (WP), along with the Florida Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) are working to bring this issue into the forefront.

The WP ad agency created a video they have branded “fake news.” The agency claims this media literary campaign will help consumers learn the difference between credible journalistic sources and intentionally misleading, fake news.

Sounds admirable, initially.

However, the video more accurately appears to be an attempt to call out President Trump, in their opinion, for misuse of the term. More recently the groups have claimed to have filed a trademark application for “fake news,” admittedly, as a joke. Nothing more than a political ploy to throw shade on the President. They have gone so far as to send a so-called cease-and-desist letter to POTUS.

What was SPJ’s point exactly?

According to SPJ’s mission statement, the point was to get people to think about professional journalism for a moment. Historically, SPJ has been known for protecting journalists’ First Amendment rights. So, is it a good look for them to use trademark law to silence Trump? Such intended use of the Federal Trademark system brings into question the purpose of registering a trademark.

What is a trademark?

The function of a trademark is to protect a distinct name that is used in commerce to refer to a particular good or service. Registering a trademark is to prevent competitors from using the name in the marketplace to refer to the same good or service, not to prevent misuse of a term. In fact, in the trademark world, using a term correctly deems that term “generic” and is, therefore, not even eligible to trademark. Hence, using the term “fake news” to refer to news that is fake makes the term generic. It doesn’t meet the trademark requirement of distinctiveness.

The Reality?

In a stretch, if the Fake News trademark is approved, does SPJ know that owning a trademark doesn’t grant the right to prevent others from uttering the words, “fake news,” in common conversation? Owning a trademark prevents the use of a term in the realm of business, not politics. They may be mistaking trademark law for the law of defamation, which gives a right to prevent people from making false statements about a person or entity. Even then, pure opinions are protected as free speech by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Fortunately, we can tell they understand this reality, because they are honestly calling the  trademark application “satire.”

If you are interested in registering a trademark (with real commercial implications), you need the help of an experienced trademark attorney.

Contact us at Boyer Law Firm for guidance.

estate planning, child hands in adult hands holding miniature house and car

Think estate planning is only for the super rich?

Estate planning is for everyone, regardless of your financial situation.  Even someone who has only minimal possessions like a car and/or checking account, needs advance planning. 

What is estate planning?

Estate planning is most simply a plan for who gets your stuff, how much of they get, and when they get it.  There are many other considerations, especially if you have minor children, namely identifying a guardian and a financial manager on their behalf.  Estate planning also encompasses life insurance and businesses.  

A will only provides instructions for what happens to your possessions and money.  Your will still must go through probate, which can be expensive and complicated.  A living trust is preferred by many to help avoid probate court.  An estate planning professional can determine if this is the best option for your estate.  

The best laid plans are worthless without being well organized.  Does your family know that you have an estate plan and a will?  Do they know where you keep your insurance papers and bank records?  Where is the title to your house and/or car?

Don’t forget that estate planning is not a one-time event.  Family or financial situations (or state laws) may change.  Divorces happen, marriages occur, and children grow up.  You can’t take your belongings with you, and you don’t want your family or friends left scrambling when you die.  They will have enough to worry about after your death, and a well organized estate plan is the best gift you can leave behind.  If you don’t make arrangements, your state will make them for you, and it will likely be more time consuming and more costly to do it their way. 

A persons estate needs are unique, consult an experience estate planning attorney NOW, not “some day.”  

Will Florida Fall Back?

Sunday, November 3 at 2am marks the end of daylight saving time for much of the United States. Will Florida be joining in on the switch?

Daylight saving time was originally adopted in 1918 during World War I as an effort to save energy. Forty-eight years later, the Uniform Time Act of 1966 established the day and time of the switch for all states that participated. The act also allows states to opt out of daylight saving time. Arizona, Hawaii, and other territories have done so.

According to Florida’s Sunshine Protection Act of 2018, Florida joined these states, but in a different way. The act was signed into law by then governor, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida and looks to convert Florida to daylight saving time permanently. This isn’t an available option under the federal act. Congress would need to amend the federal daylight saving law to exempt states from standard time.

The Sunshine Protection Act touts several benefits of the permanent change. Among the sited benefits are a reduction in car accidents, robberies, childhood obesity, and energy usage. More importantly, the law could stimulate an increase in economic activity. Congressman Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, has joined Sen. Marco Rubio in the push for congressional approval.

As beneficial as it may seem, Florida isn’t the only one that would be affected by the change. Interstate commerce would have to adapt to the fact that during the winter Florida would not fall into the Eastern Time Zone. Florida time would be one hour ahead of other Atlantic coast states.

Only time will tell if the Sunshine Protection Act will go into effect. For now, Florida will be joining the majority of the United States in turning back their clocks in 2019.

snake reptile awareness

Reptile Strategy Awareness

See It Coming, Before It Bites You.

Don’t worry, it’s not a new horror movie, it’s just the attorneys in the courtroom practicing the Reptile theory of litigation.  In 2009, David Ball, former theatrical director and jury consultant, and Don Keenan, a plaintiff’s attorney, published Reptile:  The 2009 Manual of the Plaintiff’s Revolution.  They posit that successful attorneys will unlock the primitive side of the juror’s brain with this method.

Neuroscientists named the part of the brain which controls basic life functions and essential survival instincts (fight or flight) the reptilian brain.  By tapping into this reptile side of humans, attorneys want jurors to ignore logic and consider only their own safety.  If scare tactics work and the juror finds fear in the defendant’s actions, they will be more likely to find for the plaintiff.  

This line of questioning is not new, as it appeals to the jury to decide a case based on bias and emotion.  The subtleties and complexities which have recently been explored (and named) are what is relatively new.  Reptile theory is most often effective in product liability, transportation accidents, medical malpractice or environmental cases where the rule, guideline, or law is at issue.  Plaintiff’s attorneys will appeal to jurors’ community standards or community conscience, trying to keep the community safe.  

If your business is named in a civil litigation law suit, don’t spend your time reading The North American Field Guide to Reptiles, contact us to speak with an experienced civil litigation attorney who will use logic and reason for your defense.  The best defense to the Reptile? See it coming before it bites you!

national voter registration day, September 24, 2019

Get out there and vote! But first, get out there and register!

Today, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) will recognizes the 7th annual National Voter Registration Day. Now a national holiday, National Voter Registration Day was first observed in 2012 and occurs annually on the fourth Tuesday in September. Largely supported by volunteers, this event will register and re-register voters in all 50 states.

Who can vote?

Each state has specific requirements for age at the time of election or age at registration.  Some require the voter to be 18 years of age on or before election day in order to register; some allow registration or preregistration at age 16.  Depending on the crime and the state, some convicted felons may vote after completion of their sentence. Two-thirds of states require identification to vote at the polls.  About half of those states require a photo ID.  To vote in federal elections, you must be a United States Citizen.  

What does this mean for resident aliens?

Resident aliens—Legal Permanent Residents (LPR) with a “Green Card”—are afforded limited voting rights.  Green Card holders may not vote in federal elections but may vote in their state and local races provided the election doesn’t require U.S. citizenship to vote.  Use caution and know the requirements because voting in an election which requires U.S. citizenship is grounds for deportation.  Green Card holders are expected to understand and comply with the law, regardless if the poll worker allowed you to vote.  

To determine your eligibility visit USA.gov and then check your state’s election guidelines.

For more information on becoming a permanent resident of the United States, contact an experienced immigration attorney today!