Squatters Rights

My trademark for katie james is being questioned by the USPTO (US Pattent and Trademark Office). I submitted it myself, with no legal assistance, and now amd regretting that choice. I tried to get legal aid from Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (VLA), a nonprofit organization that offers legal assistance to those who qualify. They have a membership program, where if you are a paying member, you can make an appointment on the 2nd and/or 4th Wednesday of every month for a 30minute session with a lawyer. This lawyer is not allowed to write anything down for you. The lawyer cannot make any marks on your documents if you, say, bring him/her a trademark application or an Office Action Reply (like I got for katie james, hence this dive into legal issues) if there are questions or disputes over your trademark application.

However, they can only provide legal assistance to those who qualify. To be exact, and to quote them, they supply free legal service to "indigent people." And those who qualify have to earn less then $18K in last year's taxable income. This disqualifies me. I earn less than $50/year in taxable income, not from katie james, but from my day job. About 80% of my extra money goes into starting and maintaining my hope-to-be-business/labor of love, katie james.

Let me also point out that they are called Volunteer Lawyers for the ARTS, not Volunteer Lawyers for the Indigent People. This means that people can say: "I really don't make $18K a year (but my parents pay my rent, or I live at home, or they pay all my bills..) so thanks for the assistance.

This got me to thinking (look out, this is when the republican in me rears her ugly head). The squatter who lives in New York living on who knows what for $18K/year qualifies for the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts free legal aid program. This means that they can work directly with a lawyer pro bono to finalize certain legal issues, like registering a trademark. This means that even though after I pay all of my bills, buy food for myself, my boyfriend (otherwise we'd live on popcorn and steak if it were up to him) and my pets, I have a little bit left over. Please note, however, that I am not upset with VLA for their policy. Policies like thes exist in other areas, so it's the principle of the thing that I think is unfortunate.

Oh, and as for my energy level? Well, if I have any by the time I get home, after pumping all of my organizational thought into the redesign of the company website, not to mention coding my brains out, I try to send emails to find a pattern maker, update this blog, rarely sketch any new designs (pout), visit the little workshop who is making my products (stay tuned for a really almost finished dog treat pouch), drop in at the fabric shop, and call my mother while cooking dinner, I have almost no time or money to create my business.

But the $18K/year squatter has even less than me to start a business. I have basically under $100/month to give to my business. Maybe that's a goldmine to a squatter, but if I was making $18K/year, I guess starting a business would be what I'd be tring to do. Finding a day job would definitely not be the easy way out. I'm being sarcastic. I'm pissed off about being in no-man's land with legal aid, taxes, etc.. If only I lived way below the poverty line, I could get free stuff. Well, this blog is free. So that's something.

Bottom line is, my trademark is in peril, after it finally got assigned a lawyer. There are a few things wrong with my application: wrong type of digital mark submitted; categories too broad, so no class can be chosen yet; a company named JAMES has submitted to market skin care products, clothing, promotional materials, etc. Sounds like I'll need to buy a class for many more things than just one. Like, what if I want to sell plastic mugs with my design on the inside (like at Starbucks). Does that require its own class because it could be considered promotional?

Oy. So I contacted a law firm that was posted on the Gen Art site. They are over $200 an hour. Whimper. But it's worth it. Whimper.