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Translating Lawyer Language for PR

Posted on the 27 April 2013 by Nelle @ImSoJheanelle

Reviewed Podcasts: Legal and Ethical Issues in Public Relationsby Bill Handy                                  
I bet you didn’t know the phrase “Taco Tuesday” was trademarked. The phrase is used frivolously but if placed in any advertising or print; just expect a call from a lawyer. We will talk about that later on, but for now, let us discuss another legal aspects of our roles as PR professionals.
 “As Public Relations professional we have to understand that everything that we do is for the sole purpose of our profession sharing it with the general public.” On his Podcast series titled “ PR Communication Methods”, Mr. Bill Handy explains the liabilities involved in interacting with the media and communication. It is inevitable pertinent issues occur involving the media, social networks included.  This next paragraph will have some lawyer language so follow along if you can.
Libel vs. Slander

Translating Lawyer Language for PR

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The fundamental role of PR is safeguarding our clients’ reputation, Mr. Handy distinguished the difference between libel and slander. Although they both fall under the category of defamation, we absolutely need to know the distinction. A libel is a written but slander is the oral act of defamation. There are four major steps to prove defamation; a publishedstatement, identifiable source, proof of impairment (loss of money, reputation or mental anguish) and whether or not the statement was spiteful.There might be times when our clients are allegedly involved in unfavorable circumstances. To mitigate these incidents, a contingency plan should classify, recognize and provide steps for reconnaissance and resolution.   In the event of defamation for the client, examine the statement made by the media and contact an attorney for options.
 Note: If there sufficient evidence for the client to pursue a defamation claim against an organization or individual, you have three avenues of approach. You can either:
1.   Contact the editor or producer about a refraction2.   Have an attorney contact the responsible parties3.   Contact the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) to report for any unsubstantial claims, false testimonies, puffery or deceptive surveys.
Trademark for Bloggers by Daniel J. Lewis 
Can a blog or podcast be trademarked? Well, Entertainment Lawyer Gordon Firemark definitely thinks so but there are prerequisites to consider. Before delving into right into the details, I will once again try to explain some lawyer language, so that we have a better understanding.
Trademark word, symbol combination of words, logo or design used in commerce to identify the source of a particular product of service.
There are various symbols that indicate a trademark™ - Trademark applied to tangible goods.® - Indicates that the mark is registered℠ -A service mark, applied to a service, such as a podcast.You can have both and ™
So, for a blog or podcast to be a candidate for trademark, it must have a distinguished mark associated with the service.  As blogger or a podcaster you may not register titles, if there is a series with a common theme, then you might be able to trademark the series. If at any point, that you feel the need to trademark your blog or podcast sequences, the process is meticulous and costly and  recommended that you contact a lawyer to help in the registration process.

Translating Lawyer Language for PR

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ProtectionWhen the trademark process has been completed and someone else has the same name, as the trademark owner you have the protection of the Lanham Act ; US statute that establishes trademark protection. It protects against unfair competition, even if your business is not trademarked. You are ultimately responsible for monitoring your trademark, if there is a name or phrase similar to your area of business; you have the right to ask them to stop.  For example Taco John’s owns the phrase “Taco Tuesdays”, Iguanas started using this slogan in their  advertisements. Taco John's is protected by the Lanham Act , they have to right to pursue action against Iguanas.However, if you do not have federal trademark protection,don’t become a victim in the doctrine of laches.Doctrine of Laches -a legal right or claim will not be enforced or allowed if a long delay in asserting the right or claim. [1]
Public Relations professionals should have basic knowledge of these trademarks because clients may be subjected to infringing or may be accused of infringing. It is imperative for us to grasp these concepts for our agencies and ourselves. That's what a good PR would do.
[1] Definition of Doctrine of Laches .

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