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Collier County Business And Real Estate Law Blog

What's the difference between a trademark and service mark?

Two common examples of intellectual property (IP) that business owners need to protect are trademarks and service marks. Both can include words, symbols, designs, names or some combination of these to distinguish a business's product or service from others.

The primary difference between a trademark and a service mark is that trademarks are used to identify products while service marks are used to distinguish a business's service from its competitors. It refers to the source of the service.

What should you consider when buying a condo hotel unit?

If you're looking for a home in Florida to spend your winters where you don't have to worry about dealing with maintenance or landscaping issues and have easy access to fine dining, spa treatments, a golf course and other amenities, you may be considering a condo hotel.

These have become a popular "lifestyle investment." People can purchase a unit that they live in during their stays and let the hotel open it up to guests when they aren't there. They share the revenue with the hotel operator.

Does it matter what time of year you start your new business?

When you're starting a business, you may not have total control over when you launch it. You may have to wait until your property is ready, your inventory has arrived and your staff is fully trained.

If you have a choice of what time of year to open your doors, are some months of the year better than others? How well a business does in its first few months can determine whether or not it succeeds. Therefore, if you're going to depend in large part on seasonal business, it's probably best to open during what you anticipate will be your busy season.

Commission revokes St. Pete Beach agent's real estate license

Not just anyone can get a real estate license -- and sometimes, agents engage in activities that cost them their license. This month, the Florida Real Estate Commission voted to revoke a St. Pete Beach agent's license because he didn't disclose felony convictions in another state to the commission.

The 53-year-old man didn't appear before the commission to answer questions and he wasn't there for the unanimous vote to revoke his license. He may continue to work as an agent until the final revocation order is filed -- likely by month-end. He reportedly has only one active listing, which is a vacant lot. He's still included on the website of a real estate firm.

Florida's new tech companies must protect intellectual property

When most people think of tech companies, they think of California's Silicon Valley. However, Miami and Tampa Bay are both becoming hubs for tech startups. One Florida intellectual property (IP) attorney says that "because everybody's moving from the East coast to Florida and there's a lot of money here, and the university system is set up very nicely, I just think it's going to just go crazy in Florida."

Too many tech entrepreneurs, however, don't know how to protect their IP. That can leave them easy prey to those who try to exploit this lack of protection. Unscrupulous competitors can:

  • Infringe on trademarks
  • Violate patents
  • Copy brand assets
  • Steal trade secrets

How Florida landlords must handle security deposits

Being a landlord is both financially rewarding and risky. On the one hand, you have a steady source of income. On the other, you may land bad tenants who cause lots of trouble or costly damage.

One way to protect yourself against potential expenses is by requiring a security deposit from your tenants. While you have every right to do so, you must ensure you follow Florida law to avoid any disputes. 

Location is key when starting a medical practice

You've decided to open your own medical practice. Like many new endeavors, your chances of success are greater if you do the necessary research, get the professional assistance you need and understand that the process will take some time.

Besides finding the best loan, investing in the necessary equipment and hiring the right people, one of the most important decisions you'll make is finding the right location. That's key for just about any kind of business. However, in the highly competitive health care market, it can make all the difference.

Seniors need to beware of reverse mortgage scams

It seems like ads for reverse mortgages are everywhere, but many people don't understand exactly what they are. A reverse mortgage lets homeowners 62 and older access the equity in their home, either in a lump sum or installments.

That money can provide needed income to people in retirement. The homeowner can stay in their home, but the lender has a claim on it. Payment on the loan is due when the owner sells the home or passes away.

Why did Meghan Markle renew her trademark?

Even members of British royalty can make time in their schedule to renew their trademarks -- or at least their representatives can.

Meghan Markle was not only an actress but somewhat of a style influencer before she married Prince Harry. She had a lifestyle website called The Tig (thetig.com). The name is a popular nickname for an Italian wine called Tignanello. The site covered everything from sustainable travel to fashion to wine and more.

Resolving a conflict with your homeowners' association

Many Floridians live in condominiums, townhouse complexes or other communities where rules are established and enforced by a community association like a homeowners' association (HOA). These rules are typically outlined in a Declaration of Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). Most people store what is often a massive document away until there's a problem.

Homeowners may find themselves at odds with their HOA and/or the property management company hired by that HOA to handle the upkeep of the community when they feel another resident is violating the CC&Rs. Maybe you're the one accused of violating the CC&Rs. Perhaps you've installed a color of blinds that violates a provision that all outwardly visible window coverings be a neutral shade.

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