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What you missed at the Nine & Wine for Agency Leaders event

May 3, 2013

By Lorrie Walker, President, Lorrie Walker Communications, Inc.

Two of Tampa Bay’s most talented legal minds opened up to about a dozen PR pros Tuesday to share some important information every private practitioner should know.

Here’s an overview of three key points covered by Kim Monticello of Monticello Law, and Brittany J. Maxey of Maxey Law Offices.

1. The importance of getting your corporate house in order.

This is important so you have a wall of business protection. That means if you own a company and someone sues you, having your business set up properly prevents the party from suing you personally, Kim says. It’s also important to run a tight ship, in terms of conducting annual meetings and taking minutes, even if you are a company and you’re its only employee. You may never need to refer to this information, but if the rare occasion occurs and you are asked to provide it, you’ll be glad you have it on-hand.

2. What is intellectual property and how do you protect it?

There are two things to consider- what you should protect, and what you should be aware of that you may be infringing upon. When you’re asked to create buzz, it is likely you’ll be dealing with intellectual property such as patents, trademarks and copyrighted material, Brittany says.

Patents can be for inventions, such as hand tools, widgets, light bulbs, etc., and they last 14 to 20 years, depending on when the inventor files. If a company asks you to help create buzz, it is important to know if they have a patent and/or trademarks. Trademark and copyright symbols may need to be used in promotional materials.

Brittany also says when using a trademarked name, it is important to add “brand” after it, such as “Kleenex brand facial tissues.” Kleenex is a brand of tissues; not a noun.

Copyrights protect original works of ownership, such as sculptures, writing, music and images. A big question is how can images be used without getting in trouble? You have to get permission to use copyrighted works. Contrary to popular belief, simply attributing your source is not enough.

Fair use of copyrighted material isn’t as broad as you may think. It’s OK to reference copyrighted material if it is done so under criticism, commentary, news reporting, scholarship and education, or parody, Brittany says. Where you run the potential of getting into trouble is when you use copyrighted material for a commercial purpose.

3. What kinds of things should always be in writing?

Noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements need to always be in writing. When it comes to working with independent contractors, you can’t restrict their ability to take on other work, but you can restrict their ability to take your clients if you put this information in writing.

Other information that needs to be in writing includes: bylaws, operating agreements, nondiscolusre agreements, agreements to arbitrate, and assignments of rights or licenses.

Tuesday’s meeting as an eye-opener for many. It was great to learn this helpful information, and to know two such knowledgeable attorneys are in Tampa to turn to should you need further assistance in this realm.

Kim MonticelloAbout Kimberly Monticello
Kim focuses her practice in the areas of employment law, workers’ compensation, and business law defense, and represents both individuals and businesses. Kim received her Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from Stetson University College of Law and a Bachelor of Science from Kent State University. She has over 15 years of human resource and business management experience.

About Brittany J. Maxey Brittany Maxey
Brittany is a registered patent attorney, and owner and founder of Maxey Law Offices, PLLC, which focuses on patent, trademark, copyright and trade secret law. In addition to providing legal counsel, Brittany manages all aspects of clients’ intellectual property needs, including procurement of patents, trademarks and copyrights, trade secrets and technology licensing.

About PRSA Tampa Bay’s Agency Leaders Committee
For more information on the group, upcoming events or working as an independent practitioner or agency leader, contact PRSA Tampa Bay Independent Practitioners Chair Mary Haban, APR.

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