Trademark Scams: How to Spot Them

Shortly after filing a trademark application, with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) or with another non-US, government trademark agency, a growing number of our clients inevitably receive one or more official-looking letters or invoices seeking payment related to the trademark registration. You may have received one of these notices in the mail or via email yourself—a solicitation, formatted to look like an official government document, that lists data about your trademark application and even an image of your trademark (all of which is publicly available information). Many of these companies use terms that resemble an official agency name including one or more of the terms “United States,” “U.S.,” “Trademark,” “Patent,” “Registration,” “Office,” or “Agency.” The truth is, these solicitations have absolutely no legal or other significance to your trademark registration. If read carefully, you can see that the solicitations provide useless services such as listing the application on an internet database or sending a reminder that an issued registration is up for renewal sometime in the future. Some of the solicitations don’t even disclose what services they are providing. These worthless notices are convincing and tend to solicit significant amounts of money from the trademark owner, often exceeding the actual fees necessary to register a trademark. Unfortunately, some trademark owners pay these invoices, believing they are legitimate, official invoices, because they are unaware of the scams and do not read the solicitations carefully. Any official postal correspondence regarding your trademark registration or application in the United States will be from the “United States Patent and Trademark Office” with an address in Alexandria, Virginia. Any emails related... read more

Multi-Member LLCs Must Update the Operating Agreement

If you are an owner of a multi-member LLC and being taxed as a partnership then it’s time to revisit your Operating Agreement. Not sure if you are taxed as a partnership? Most LLCs with more than one partner are. Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 (BBA) You may be wondering, why am I writing about a law signed in 2015 when it’s already 2019? It’s a little-known rule that didn’t get much publicity and only took effect on January 1, 2018. It’s coming up now that multi-owner LLCs are preparing to file their 2018 tax returns. What does it change? Before the BBA, the Tax Equity and Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) audit procedure required the IRS to perform audits at the LLC/partnership level. If there were any adjustments to be made, they would be passed through the LLC and collected from the partners. After the BBA, the IRS will collect any amounts owed directly from the LLC, rather than the individual members. This makes it easier for the IRS to collect amounts owed. The IRS no longer has to chase down individual owners to collect their share of the tax underpayment. The IRS can now collect the money directly from the LLC and leave it up to the LLC to collect a reimbursement from the members themselves. What effects does this have? If the LLC is audited and there are amounts due to the IRS, the LLC will pay the deficit and the LLC will have to try to collect from the members individually. This also means that the current members may wind up with the tax liability... read more

Estate Planning for Digital Assets

When I ask clients if they have any digital accounts a vast majority say they do. When I ask them if something happens to them, where is the information for accessing those accounts, almost everyone points to their head.  “It’s all in here.”  But what happens when your unable to share that information when it’s needed? That’s where Digital Assets Planning enters.

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