Atlanta Braves File Suit Against Local Taxi Company for Trademark Infringement

Credit – Ricky Leroux – Marietta Daily Journal

Credit – Ben Brasch – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A local Marietta based taxi company, Braves Taxi, who carries a logo closely resembling that of the Atlanta Braves baseball team has found itself on the opposite side of a lawsuit for federal trademark infringement.  The suit filed November 1, 2018 states that the services is using, “identical and confusingly similar iterations of the Atlanta Braves’ trademarks” on its vehicles.”

The complaint goes on to state that “(Braves Taxi is) intentionally freeriding on the success and popularity of the Atlanta Braves by brazenly copying the Atlanta Braves’ trademarks in an effort to dupe unwitting fans or other Atlantans into believing the taxi company is owned by, associated or affiliated with or sponsored or endorsed by the Atlanta Braves.”

It is worth noting that the taxi company’s logo includes typeface identical to that of the (ball club) Brave’s logo as well as a tomahawk.  The attorney for the company, Braves Taxi, has so far denied many of the allegations according to court filings.

The original complaint states that the taxi company started operating “virtually in the shadow of SunTrust Park.”  Records show, however, that the taxi company has been registered with the state since 2015, and in business long before that in the area surrounding the current Braves stadium.  Many argue that they were in the area long before the Braves made their way to Cobb County.

The Braves further argue in their filing that the company is “inflicting irreparable harm to the goodwill symbolized by the Braves’ marks.”  They also mention potential harm to their extensive sponsorship agreement with Uber to provide all ride sharing to and from the stadium.  Federal court cases can take years to resolve; it is expected that this will be completed sometime in late 2019.

Do you operate a business and have concerns as to whether or not you are unwittingly engaged in trademark infringement or some other legal offense?  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys can help you to ensure that you are at all times on the right side of the law.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150.

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The Lawyers Kennesaw GA foundation of our administrations rests in our relationship-focused methodology, where we devote ourselves to our associations with every individual customer. This enables us to not just take in their experience, current conditions, and legitimate issues, yet in addition to center around the master plan future. By utilizing this methodology, we’re ready to give legitimate administrations and advising that is proactive in nature, giving us bits of knowledge into future issues that may emerge and to guide our customers on the best way to continue in the present to set the phase for accomplishing their future objectives without extra time and costs that originate from backtracking and roll out improvements to encourage development later on.

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Utilize Lawyers Kennesaw GA “Early and Often”

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The heft of our work for private customers includes the production of wills, bequest arranging and senior consideration arranging. This is a novel time in American history, where we’re seeing inconceivably high numbers inside the maturing populace as Baby Boomers are achieving retirement age. Many are woefully underprepared and underinformed with regards to making wills and domain designs, and building up preemptive senior consideration making arrangements for themselves or their friends and family.

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Our business customer administrations make up the greater part of our work, halfway because of the ascent of business visionaries and the complexities of business law—and in part since we’re energetic about observing organizations prevail in their picked industry.

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Purchasing a Franchise in Georgia as a Career Change

We recently stated on our blog that 1 in 7 businesses in the U.S. operate as a franchise.  It makes sense, as anyone with a healthy amount of working capital can purchase an interest in a turnkey operation and simultaneously become their own boss.  Also recently, Forbes published an article titled, “Laid off, Why Now Could be the Best Time to Franchise.”  It offered a fresh take on what is surely a devastating time in anyone’s life, and suggested an opportunity to spurn working for someone else, and go into the business of yourself.

 

While I would caution anyone who recently lost their job against haphazardly disregarding the years spent advancing in their given field, and honing the specific skill sets acquired, the article does present the reader with some compelling points for evaluation.  What was the level of satisfaction with the prior career?  What is the reader’s age and/or opportunities for continued advancement?  Will employment be easy to obtain, or was the layoff a product of a larger industry shift?

While the article focused on the finer points in franchise ownership, before committing to a newfound career in franchise operations, it is important to evaluate all factors to ensure that this will be a good fit.  The would-be franchisor must first assess things critically, such as their financial position, business acumen and skillset, business and personal goals, and the type of franchise that would do well in the local marketplace.

The first, and arguably most defining factor involved is the franchisee’s access to capital.  All franchises carry an initial franchise fee.  This is how the franchisor makes money, and is typically in addition to royalties on continued financial success.  Without access to this capital, which can typically run up to $1,000,000 for the most established franchise models, the would be franchisee will not be able to make it past the application phase

The second factor involves the skillset and goals of the individual purchasing the franchise.  Perhaps you are an accountant, and possess the business knowledge to keep the entity profitable, but you hate the smell of fast food.  Similarly, if you are allergic to animals then a pet sitting franchise may not be in your best interest.  Luckily, there are resources designed to match potential owners with available franchises that provide the best fit.

The final factor, and arguably the most important of them all, is the preparation and execution of purchasing a franchise.  The purchase of a franchise is a detail intensive process with many agreements and legally binding documents.  It requires a complete understanding of the Franchise Disclosure Document (FDD) and the Franchise Agreement with the entity you will be franchising with.  While Franchises are regulated under Federal law, there are differences from state to state, with Georgia being no different.

If you are considering a career change into franchise operations, and would like help understanding the critical elements of the process, please reach out to us.  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys will assist you in every phase of the agreement, and provide critical reviews along the way.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you today!

Thrift & McLemore Receives the 2019 AVVO Client’s Choice Award

Atlanta, GA – On February 22, 2019, and for the third consecutive year, Thrift & McLemore received the 2019 AVVO Client’s Choice Award for superior client service, fast response times and desired results.  We greatly value this honor and thank each of our clients.

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Bank Fraud, Phishing and Checksystems Case

Phishing is a cybercrime in which a target or targets are contacted by email, telephone or text message by someone posing as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data such as personally identifiable information, banking and credit card details, and passwords. The information is then used to access important accounts and can result in identity theft and financial loss. Everyone makes mistakes. Customers make mistakes. Banks make mistakes. Statistics show that phishing generally occurs when someone least expects it. We have found that it is becoming more and more commonplace for online institutions to request sensitive information from customers in order to proceed with transactions.

Several of the institutions researched by this firm do this on a regular basis and legally work, on this basis, with large banks and financial institutions. So, as of 2018, a precedent has been set. While most “old school” customers would never give out sensitive information such as online banking user id’s and passwords, many younger customers are readily doing so for a number of reasons that include, but are not limited to, obtaining credit cards and loans. Simply put, the new “tech savvy” generation is more familiar with doing transactions online than simply approaching an established bank or lending institution.

In a recent case, a customer was approached by an online institution with an apparently known name and legitimate email address. Information was provided. The customer’s bank called days later and informed him or her that they were shutting down their account and reporting them to ChexSystems for fraud because several counterfeit checks had been deposited into their account by “mobile banking.” Chex Systems, Inc. (ChexSystems) is a nationwide specialty consumer reporting agency under the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). ChexSystems’ clients regularly contribute information on closed checking and savings accounts. ChexSystems provides services to financial institutions and other types of companies that have a permissible purpose under the FCRA. ChexSystems’ services primarily assist its clients in assessing the risk of opening new accounts. https://www.chexsystems.com. In this case, no investigation was made as to who actually committed the fraud and now the customer cannot open up any account at that institution ever again and also is blocked from opening up a new account with another bank. The customer had never even used mobile banking before.

Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys are well versed in bank fraud litigation and phishing scams.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can assist you.

Georgia Small Business Debt Collection Suggestions

Georgia Small Business Debt Collection:  It is no secret that the key to running a successful business is a healthy bottom line.  Businesses need profits to continue operating, paying their bills, and their employees.  For small businesses especially, every little bit counts, and it is important to keep an eye on everything coming in and going out.  This is why it can be especially devastating to small business owners when customers do not pay their invoices on time.  These delinquencies can create solvency issues for the business that may ultimately threaten its own ability to pay bills on time.

Some degree of invoice delinquency is simply unavoidable.  Be it a dispute regarding the service performed, solvency issues on behalf of the customer, or just people looking for a free ride – certain customers just do not pay their bills.  There are certainly means to address these customers, but there are also steps you can take as a small business in Georgia to minimize delinquent invoice accounts.

Keep your cool.  It is a natural reaction to become hostile with a customer who will not pay their bill after you have performed a valid service.  While you have every right to be frustrated, taking it out on the customer will be of no service in getting that bill paid.  Once hostility is introduced to the matter at hand, cooperation likely goes out the window.

Stay Organized.  This is critical in dealing with overdue invoices from a customer.  Businesses need to have great documentation of outstanding receivables, including each invoice delivered and the respective due date.  It should also monitor each time the customer received correspondence from the business, and the means by which this was done (mail, email, or phone).  Debt collection law in Georgia can be complicated, and keeping records like this will ultimately help down the road should the dispute turn into a lawsuit.

Remain Diligent.  While you may feel that you are at the mercy of the client, remember that this is a valid debt.  While remaining respectful, you should use every tool at your disposal to be paid for the work you have performed.  Regularly contact the customer.  It may be an honest mistake at first, and simply reminding the customer of the bill does the trick.  This can be done via a quick phone call or resending of the invoice.  If this does not work, you can institute a deadline for payment.

Know your options.  If you have followed all of the steps above and still gotten nowhere, it may be time to hire some help.  Many debts in Georgia can be considered delinquent after 90 days, at which point it is possible to take legal action.  Introducing a collections attorney can help to navigate the legalities of debt collection while turning up the pressure on the delinquent client.  If all else fails, this attorney can file a lawsuit for the debt.  An experienced attorney will be able to walk you through all of the necessary requirements for taking action of last resort.

If you have questions regarding a delinquent debt for your Georgia business and need some answers, let us help!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys are qualified in the State of Georgia to collect debts on behalf of their clients.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you and your organization collect on your receivables and delinquent debts.

Home Owners: Obtaining Recourse in Georgia from a Failed Home Inspection

Whether you are purchasing your first home or your fiftieth, one of the most important steps in the purchase process is hiring a home inspector.  This inspector will be the one to tell you whether the dream house you recently went under contract on is structurally sound, or contains issues that no longer qualify it as a dream home at all.

Most of us rely on these inspectors to catch every minor detail; after all, that is why you hired them in the first place!  However, what do we do when we have done our research, hired the best inspector we can find, yet defects in the home are still missed?  After all, there is nothing worse than an inspection stating the home you just purchased is in great shape, only to move in and find out that your foundation needs emergency repair, at a great cost.

In the state of Georgia, before immediately taking your grievance to the home inspector, you may have a better claim against the seller.  Although Georgia follows the mantra of “Buyer Beware”, there is a general duty in the state to disclose to would be buyers known defects within the house, especially if they are not easily discoverable.  Sellers could face liability to the buyer for failing to disclose these material defects, so long as it is provable that the defects were known.

Assuming that the seller was not aware of the defect, or there is no proof of fraudulent concealment on their part, then you can look to the home inspector for relief.  There are two general theories to obtain relief from a home inspector from a botched inspection.  Outlined below, these theories are Negligence and Breach of Contract.

Negligence, in any area of the law is generally the failure to act as a reasonable person as someone similarly situated would do.  In this case, if a different home inspector catches the issue at hand (which can be proven by getting a second opinion), then the original home inspector can be found negligent.  The state of Georgia requires all home inspectors to go through in depth training in order to be licensed, so lack of training is no defense.  One thing to consider is that the inspector is only liable to defects within the scope of the inspection.  If the house does not have running water on the day of inspection, the inspector cannot be liable for defects regarding the plumbing in the home.

Breach of Contract becomes a viable claim when the contract that you entered into with a home inspector contains language that you believe was clearly violated.  This could arise when you specifically negotiated to include tests for lead based paint, the inspection came back clean, and you later find evidence pointing to lead based paint in your home.  If you have a contract in writing with the inspector to perform any review, and you can prove that the review was never in fact completed, this would be the proper avenue for legal recourse.

Assuming that you have a valid claim based on the two legal theories above, there are still items to consider.  The home inspector may have inserted a waiver into the contract called an exculpatory clause.  This clause is common among home inspectors, and generally serves to limit liability in the event that defects in the home are uncovered after inspection.  Instead of being on the hook to replace a whole roof, they may simply attempt to refund the home inspection fee.  They may also have an arbitration or mediation provision, which would make it more difficult to file a lawsuit as a first step.

In summary, a failed home inspection in Georgia does not always leave the buyer out in the cold.  There are several avenues to recover losses in the instance that your home inspection did not uncover material defects in your home.  If you are not sure whether you have an actionable case, you should consult with an attorney before taking any action.

If you have questions regarding a home inspection gone wrong, give us a call!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys have represented Georgia home buyers seek legal recourse for defects in their homes not caught by the home inspection.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you today!

Collecting on your Georgia Commercial Debt through Garnishments

As a creditor in Georgia, and especially one experiencing delinquent debts, your first objective is to pursue any legal means to obtain satisfaction of the debt owed to you.

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There are many ways for creditors to collect this delinquent debt, with varying degrees of difficulty, all of which depend on how hard the debtor intends to fight payment.

The easiest and most commonly adopted approach involves the use of a qualified attorney or debt collection agent.  This individual or entity will begin by sending either a demand letter or otherwise attempting to contact the delinquent debtor to amicably resolve the debt and get the creditor paid.  Unfortunately, this approach has mixed success.

More common in Commercial debt collection matters, due to the sophistication of parties, and contractual nature of the agreements, the creditor must go to court and receive judgement on delinquent debt in their favor, which then entitles them to act in regards to compel payment.  This judgement is a declaration by the court that the debt is valid, and the creditor can now seek to enforce the debt.

The most common tool used by these newly appointed “Judgement-Creditors” is Garnishment.  Georgia Garnishment Law is found in Title 18 Chapter 4 Article 4 of the Georgia Code, and follows the federal rules generally.  Specifics on the process can be found in OCGA 18-4-4 which outlines the process and period of Garnishments in the state.  There are two ways to enact a garnishment on a delinquent debt once judgment has been granted or the debt otherwise perfected.

The most common of these is a Summons of Garnishment, or simply a bank garnishment.  If a bank is served with this garnishment, they must immediately place a hold on the debtors account and may to the court all funds on deposit at the time of service, plus any additional funds that may be deposited into the account within the next 30 days.  After this thirty-day period, the garnishment is no longer in place.

Although less common, Georgia also allows the perfected creditor to garnish a debtor’s wages by way of a Continuing Garnishment.  After receiving service of a Continuing Garnishment, the employer of the delinquent debtor must pay into the court 25% of the debtor’s net take home pay.  This garnishment remains in place for the lesser of 180 days or the full extent of the debt has been satisfied.  Georgia also allows for renewal of this garnishment, but it must be again filed with the court.

Garnishments are generally filed in the Magistrate Court in the county for which the garnishee is physically located.  Costs may vary county to county, but are typically around $50 for filing, plus the cost for summons of service.

If you have questions regarding a delinquent debt of any kind and are at a loss for how to move forward with collecting it, let us help!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys are qualified in the State of Georgia to collect debts on behalf of their clients.  Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you and your organization collect on your receivables and delinquent debts.

Freddie Mac will now allow conventional financing for manufactured housing (Credit: Ben Lane HW)

GSE rolls out new manufactured housing financing

Freddie Mac will soon see no difference between certain manufactured homes and traditional single-family housing from a financing standpoint.  The government-sponsored enterprise announced Friday that it is rolling out a new financing program for manufactured housing that will bring conventional financing to factory-built housing.

The program, which is called CHOICEHome, is a two-year pilot that will allow for conventional financing for certain manufactured homes. The homes that will be eligible for the program have features like permanent foundations and pitched roofs.

Many of these homes also come with energy-saving features like Energy Star Qualified Low-E windows, programmable thermostats and minimum insulation values.

According to Freddie Mac, it will treat loans secured by CHOICEHome like loans that are secured by single-family site-built homes.

“If a factory-built home meets certain specifications, it will be granted a CHOICEHome certification and will be eligible for CHOICEHome financing,” Freddie Mac said, adding that its loan products HomeOne and Home Possible will be available for manufactured housing.

Additionally, Freddie Mac said that appraisers will be able to use site-built housing as a comparable for valuation.

The program is part of Freddie Mac’s Duty to Serve plan, which focuses on supporting underserved markets by financing more rural and manufactured housing and preserving more affordable housing for homebuyers and renters nationwide.

“Today’s manufactured homes can deliver outstanding quality at prices that are up to 50% less per square foot than conventional site-built homes,” Freddie Mac noted. “These savings can enable more Americans to own their own home, even in the face of an ever-widening housing affordability gap.”

According to Freddie Mac, to meet the CHOICEHome eligibility requirements, manufacturers and lenders must follow Department of Housing and Urban Development-code guidelines for the construction and siting of the home in order, and lenders must follow local and state guidelines for manufactured housing titled as real property.

“Finding a home is more difficult than ever because of the ongoing housing supply shortage in many parts of the country, especially when looking for a home at a lower price point,” said Mike Dawson, vice president of Single-Family Affordable Lending Strategy and Policy at Freddie Mac.

“Currently there are more than 22 million families living in factory-built housing, and with that number expected to grow, there’s an opportunity for factory-built homes to address the housing supply shortage and quality housing overall,” Dawson added. “This new generation of manufactured housing might just be the best option for first-time homebuyers, Millennials, and empty-nesters looking to downsize.”

(Credit: Ben Lane HW)

If you have questions regarding manufactured housing finance, let us help!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys have assisted numerous companies and individuals in this legal field.   Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you.

A Commercial Renter’s Rights in Georgia (Credit: Kristy Borowik, bizfluent)

Residential tenants have more rights than commercial renters in Georgia. Unfortunately the landlord has more rights when it comes to commercial property lease agreements. The key to understanding any tenant’s rights is in the lease agreement, which Georgia recognizes as a legally binding contract. Unless something in the lease is illegal, any tenant’s rights are limited by the language in the lease agreement, so it is crucial for all tenants to understand their lease agreements before signing.

Shared From https://bizfluent.com/info-8412291-commercial-renters-rights-georgia.html

Before Signing the Lease

The potential commercial tenant has the right to request a subordination, non-disturbance and attornment agreement, which requires a lender to honor a tenant’s lease in the event of foreclosure on the leased property. If the landlord’s lender does not want to sign an SNDA agreement, the tenant might want to find another property to lease.

All potential tenants should inspect the property before leasing and have a lawyer look over the lease agreement before signing.

Privacy Rights

Residential tenants have the right to privacy in the rental property. The landlord must give ample notice before entering the property and enter only at a reasonable time and for a legitimate reason. The same is not true with commercial property. Landlords may enter a commercial property whenever they want, as long as they do not interfere with the commercial tenant’s business.

Insurance

Georgia requires the landlord of a commercial property to insure the property against fire and other basic risks. The commercial tenant has the right to request proof of insurance before paying rent. However, the tenant is responsible for liability insurance.

Unpaid Rent

The landlord may lock out a commercial tenant for not paying rent. This is different with residential tenants, as the landlord may need a court order before locking them out. Commercial tenants do not have the right to the leased property as they would residential property. Further, a landlord may sell the commercial tenant’s property to cover back rent.

Disputes

Georgia does not have a governmental agency that settles dispute between landlords and tenants or that has the power to force either party to behave in a particular manner. If commercial tenants cannot resolve a dispute with a landlord on their own, they must use the courts, either directly or through a lawyer, to enforce their legal rights.

If you have questions regarding commercial landlord/tenant law, let us help!  Thrift & McLemore’s attorneys have assisted numerous companies and individuals in the legal field.   Contact Thrift & McLemore by email at [email protected] or by phone at 678-784-4150 to discuss how we can help you.

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