You’re ready to start your business. You have the perfect name, slogan, logo… now it’s time to set up your Facebook page, website, print up business cards… in other words, get your name out there.
Not so fast, says intellectual property attorney Kimra Major-Morris. Trademark law is much more complicated than you might think and could completely derail your startup if you’re not careful.
Kimra has tips for avoiding that fate, as well as the steps you must take to protect your copyrights and to make sure you don’t violate those of others.
We talk legal stuff but also plenty about balancing family life and growing your business, how to find ideal clients, and much more.
Tune in to find out…
- How to be effective with a 24/7 virtual business
- Your biggest responsibility as a business owner
- The importance of self-care for entrepreneurs
- An unexpected – and creative – way to grow your professional network
- How social media and the internet have completely changed trademark and copyright law
- And more…
Mentioned in This Episode: www.majormorrislaw.com
Davina Frederick: Hello. Welcome to the Solo to CEO Podcast where we provide a mix of powerful, thought provoking and practical information to assist you in your transformation from Solo to CEO of a high impact, high revenue generating business. I’m your host Davina Frederick and I’m here this morning with Kimra Major-Morris, Founder and CEO of Major-Morris Law.
Davina Frederick: Welcome, Kimra.
Kimra Major-Morris: Thank you Davina. Good morning.
Davina Frederick: Good morning. I’m so happy you’re here this morning. Tell us a little bit about Major-Morris Law and how long you’ve been in practice, what kind of law you practice and how do you serve your clients.
Kimra Major-Morris: Okay. Major-Morris Law LLC is in Orlando Florida, technically in Apopka, which is just outside of Orlando. It’s blocks away from Orlando. My practice area is intellectual property law, I do some entertainment as well. The firm was founded in 2009 and has been focused on those two practice areas for the entire time, intellectual property and entertainment law. The way that came about was because of my extensive background in the entertainment and media and I went into something I love. The whole purpose in the setting up this firm was to serve the creative community and brand owners. I just love working with creative people.
It’s a small boutique firm based in Orlando. It’s primarily a virtual practice although I do meet with clients as often as possible in person.
Davina Frederick: Explain to us when its intellectual property what that entails. What does that mean?
Kimra Major-Morris: Okay. Intellectual property covers four areas, and I practice in three of the four. Under the intellectual property umbrella is copyright law, trademark law, trade secret law and patent law. I am not a licensed patent attorney but I do assist creative content providers. So writers, song writers, artists, what else? Authors, I said writers already. People who are creating things with their copyright protection. Business owners, that’s the bulk of my clientele. Business owners who are trying to protect the business name that they do business with. Their logos that identify their companies, any slogans that they have. Their trademarks are forced identifiers, so that’s another thing that falls under intellectual property. Trade secrets are the things that this is proprietary information, your mailing list, the essential things that help to keep your business separated apart from another business. That’s trade secret law.
I work with business owners and the creative community to protect those things that are really valuable assets often bear the company’s most valuable assets.
Davina Frederick: Oh, okay, okay. Let me ask you this, at what point do you have clients come to you, let’s say you own a business. At what point do you have clients come to you who own a business and they want to protect their logo or things related to their brand.
Kimra Major-Morris: Business name.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, the business name.
Kimra Major-Morris: Ideally, sometimes the startups come to me, that’s the best time actually. It just doesn’t happen often enough in the real world. Before people name their businesses they should consult with an intellectual property attorney or someone skilled or knowledgeable about trademark law. This happens so often that people will think of a name and they’ll go straight to their business directory. We’re in Florida so we go to the sunbiz.org website and we look to see if the name is available and if no one else has it on Sunbiz than we automatically think that is going to be ours. The problem with that is that this Sunbiz has an all other state website, division of corporations has a big disclaimer that says if you name your business something based on what’s found in our directory, we’re not responsible for your infringement. People miss the small print. What people should be doing is conducting or having a professional conduct the comprehensive trademark search. Sometimes people think they’re being clever when they change the spelling and I think a business or something sounds the same under trademark well the spelling doesn’t matter. What matters is that someone else might be confused about the difference between your business and the one that your business sounds like.
That’s the best time for people to come, especially now in this digital age and people. We have websites, we have social media pages. Everything is subject to an infringement claim if you haven’t checked it out. I had someone just what a month ago to come to me and someone was infringing on her trademark and we reported it to Instagram and the other person’s entire page was removed. If you’ve built up a business of 20,000 followers but never search the brand name it could just be gone overnight because you didn’t make sure you weren’t stepping on anyone’s toes.
Davina Frederick: Oh wow. That’s huge.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah.
Davina Frederick: Give me an idea of what’s sort of involved in the process of hire. I think there’s a lot of, you know oftentimes there’s a lot of fear that people have involved in especially when they’re starting out. Maybe they think that well you know my little business here in this state, nobody’s going to notice what I’m doing over here when there’s somebody else out in Arizona. They’re running their bakery in Arizona, they’re not going to notice my little bakery here in Florida with the same name or something similar or whatever. So, they don’t want to spend the money on an attorney to do the trademark or whatever. Can you give me sort of some idea of some of the issues that they can run into if they go into with sort of that train of thought?
Kimra Major-Morris: Sure. Okay, so let’s take that example. I think there was well Piggly Wiggly is a grocery store, and it started off as a small grocery store. It was a local store and then it was named for a national franchise and that was a dispute. That train of thought first of all is not a good business strategy because if you are business owner whose starting a business in Orlando and you’re not concerned that a company in New Jersey might have the same name it’s short sighted now because what are you going to do on social media. It’s a race to who starts up the Instagram first. So there’s confusion of going to the likely confusion among the customers on social media. Also all it takes is for one person to decide to file a federal trademark application to give them the authority to send you a cease and desist notice. So what am I saying? I’m saying that if you are in Florida and you don’t have a federal trademark you have what’s called common law trademark. That means you just started using it and you acquired trademark right. So you’re not bothering anyone for now but if the person in New Jersey had the same name before you and decided to file a federal application then that federal status gives them the right to now send you, the Orlando Business Owner, a cease and desist notice.
They can also with that federal registration go and take down your website, your social media pages, any form of online marketing that would be confusing to customers. It seems like it’s not a big deal but you’re just constantly looking over your shoulder if you set your business up that way without being concerned about the person who’s going to have superior rights.
Davina Frederick: Let’s be clear, for the non-attorneys who might be listening to this and I’m sure there are many. So let’s be clear about the law and the jurisdiction. Trademarks is governed by the federal government not the state government?
Kimra Major-Morris: Well in some cases. Thank you for pointing that out. There is a thing called federal trademark rights and so you go through that process, it takes six to 10 months to get a trademark certificate. If you qualify you have to apply to the United States Patent and Trademark Office, also known as USPTO. That’s the strongest trademark protection you can have because it’s going to give you the exclusive right to use your business name, your brand name, your logo, your slogan within the United States. Remember this is the United States Patent and Trademark Office so this is not a global right that you’re getting when you get a federal trademark certificate. A lot of states have state trademarks that they offer. If I go to Sunbiz, that’s our Florida Secretary of State Website, if I go there than I can apply for a state trademark which is going to give me the exclusive right to use my business name, logo, and slogan. Whatever I apply for, you can apply for each one of those separately in the state of Florida.
It’s not going to give me any right to use it outside of Florida. So you can do that. I still think that’s short sighted just because of the internet because if you’re doing business on the internet you’re automatically availing your services to people outside of Florida.
Davina Frederick: Social media and the internet have changed everything.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yep. So, you can do that. You can have a state trademark or a federal trademark. Then there are the people who just aren’t don’t business and don’t do a state or a federal trademark. They have what’s called common law trademark right which they tend not to offer as much protections. There are instances where they do, but what common law trademarks give business owners when they just start selling lemonade let’s say at a park. Every year you’re going to go to a festival and sell your lemonade. It’s only going to give you geographic trademark rights which is not going to be the entire state of Florida, it’s going to be the small area in which you’re making your services available to the public. There are levels to trademark protection and most business owners should be aiming for federal protection.
Davina Frederick: What about, you mentioned global, the word global earlier because when you’re on the internet you’re global.
Kimra Major-Morris: Correct. If you are selling your products and services outside of the United States then you might look into global protection but in order to get global protection you have to identify the territory for which you want to sell your products and services. In order to get a trademark certificate you have to be able to show that your product and services are sold in a particular area. You can’t just get a trademark in Mexico or somewhere outside of the country if you don’t have, if you can’t show that your products and services are being sold in those areas.
Davina Frederick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Wow.
Kimra Major-Morris: Each region has a different process and those of us who are practicing only in the US have to subcontract. You know we have to hire attorneys in the territory for our clients to get those other certificates.
Davina Frederick: Depending on the nature of your business it can get pretty complicated but even if you think your business is simple because of the internet and social media and how you may be using it. Also just like you said you want to be thinking long term not short term in your growth of your business. Initially when you start a business you may be thinking oh well, I’m just going to do this but what if you, you know every business owner hopes to be wildly successful.
Kimra Major-Morris: Right.
Davina Frederick: What if you become wildly successful, you know you wouldn’t want to be thinking that you are going to become wildly successful. So it’s good to have an attorney who helps you think through what if you become wildly successful and what are the implications of that and let’s prepare for that now because the comparison of what that cost of investing in some good advice at the beginning versus the ramifications of defending your mark clear.
Kimra Major-Morris: Oh my goodness. I had an owner of a parking lot, he used to think about if you have the brick and mortar business and you have the signage and a lot of companies have vehicles with the company name on them. If you get a cease and desist notice many times you have at the most 30 days to stop using a particular thing. So this means you would have to take down all marketing, online advertising, that means even Yelp, Google Reviews. Your website has to be completely changed, your vehicle. Marketing has to be redone. It’s extremely expensive and so for anyone who thinks that hiring an attorney upfront is something they can’t afford you have to think about the bigger picture.
Davina Frederick: Because it’s not just hiring an attorney down the road to defend you in a matter. It’s redoing all of-
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah, your brand identity.
Davina Frederick: Your brand identity.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah, correct.
Davina Frederick: That’s like an octopus out there with all these tentacles and pulling all of that back you know.
Kimra Major-Morris: Right. It’s just not worth it. Even for people who just, there are a lot of people who think they can just go to the USPTO website and do a free search.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, I was going to ask about that next.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah, okay. There is a free search for free trademark search, but we have to identify what that really means. What it means is you’re going to the United States Patent and Trademark Office and you’re checking the register to find out what trademarks have already been filed. Some people think that if they don’t see the one that they want then they can go ahead and start using a thing. That’s wrong because again spelling. The spelling of a particular business name doesn’t matter. Think about the person who wants to start a business and they want to call it Adidas and instead of selling it like the company Adidas does with the I for the E sound. This person says I want to start an apparel line and I want to Adidas and they spell it with E’s and Y’s. If they search that, if they go into the USPTO and put in their unique spelling of Adidas and it’s not there the person who has no knowledge of trademark law might think that that’s available. In fact they do often think that. Think if they add a number or change the spelling that somehow it’s not going to be trademark infringement.
That person who has searched the directory has come away with the wrong conclusion that their name is not infringing. That’s one scenario. The other scenario is you have a similar spelling for something else and you’re selling the same product and services, that’s infringing. Even if it’s a whole different word. You could have Davina’s Coaching and let’s say you’re in class 45, 45 for professional services. Someone else might have Davina’s Courses and because it’s not Davina’s Coaching they want to go class 45 because it’s not the same as yours they think they can get away with that. So that’s, no. You have to remember the whole point in trademark protection is so that it’s a consumer protection law. We don’t want people being confused about which business they’re supporting.
Davina Frederick: So if it creates confusion in the mind of the consumer as to what business they’re dealing with that’s where the issue arises.
Kimra Major-Morris: Right. As to what the source of services or products is. Is Davina Frederic behind this service or is Davina, I don’t know, Davina Major-Morris. If we can’t tell the difference and if people are confused than most of the time it’s a case of trademark infringement.
Davina Frederick: Mm-hmm (affirmative). What about once you’ve got your mark then are you just set then, you got it, you’re just set and you’re like woo hoo, I’m golden, I don’t ever have to worry about this again.
Kimra Major-Morris: Wouldn’t that be nice? Not at all. The trademark law requires, it’s a case of property remember that, so if you have real estate you’re responsible for your taxes, the maintenance there. Same thing with trademark, property or intellectual property, you are responsible for maintenance. Once you have your federal trademark certificate there’s a second page that comes with the certificate that tells you important deadlines. They make it really clear that you understand you’re responsible for enforcing your trademark right. So that means if you don’t use it you lose it. If you don’t enforce them than you can be giving someone consent to use, implied consent. So if you’re aware, in other words if you’re aware that someone else is using something similar or the same as your trademark than you’re legally required to give them notice that they’re infringing on your trademark. If you don’t do that than the marks are going to coexist and that person will have a legal argument that they should be able to keep, continue having the right to use it because you didn’t enforce your trademark right.
So that’s one thing. So you’re responsible for enforcement and then every five years you’re responsible for reporting to the trademark office and telling them in so many words that you’re still using your trademark. You have to pay a maintenance fee somewhere around 100 dollars around a five year mark and then a couple hundred dollars between the ninth and tenth year. Basically every five years you have to file something with the trademark office to make sure the government or the trademark office is still going to keep your status on the trademark record as active. It’ll still say registered and then it’s public record. People will know if you didn’t pay your maintenance fees and all of that. That’s another, I’m glad you brought that up because sometimes when people see that a trademark registration has gone into abandonment they think that’s a chance for them to pounce on something that might’ve been popular.
What if there’s Harvard Law School and who knows, the legal department at Harvard forgets to file their maintenance documents and suddenly the Harvard trademark registration looks like it’s been abandoned. You are just about to start your own school and you think just because Harvard’s mark went into abandonment that you can pounce on that. Well it’s a favorite.
Davina Frederick: Given that it’s Harvard Law School.
Kimra Major-Morris: People really think this and that has become a famous mark. Even that’s a technicality at this point because everybody knows Harvard Law School and there’s good well and there’s a reputation that’s linked to the name now. So, it’s a famous mark and that means just because the application might have gone into abandonment you’re still going to be served with a cease and desist notice if you try to start a school called Harvard.
Davina Frederick: Well Darn, that plan’s not going to work.
Kimra Major-Morris: Right.
Davina Frederick: I guess to scratch that off and move on to my legal plan. Alright, we can talk about trademarks for probably the hour, but I do want to move onto some other things because you cover a lot in your practice. You work with some, you’re not your average intellectual property lawyer. You have some pretty famous and infamous clients and we obviously are not going to reveal clients. You do work in the entertainment industry and I want to kind of get into some of the copyright aspects and trade secret aspects and entertainment law aspects of what you do and get you to sort of delve into that a little bit and explain that.
Kimra Major-Morris: Well, so the history there is kind of funny. I started off as a hip hop artist. Most people can’t imagine that but I was a rapper right out of-
Davina Frederick: I’ve never heard you rap, how have I missed this? Oh my goodness, I’m going to make you rap today, but I will keep that in mind for karaoke night with Kimra in the future.
Kimra Major-Morris: It was so much fun. So I did that for probably six years, fortunately I stayed in college while I was performing to vocal Betty Wright, the famous R&B singer was my vocal coach. One time I opened for Big Daddy Kane and these old school hip hop artists. I had a lot of fun in my early twenties doing that and then I became a mom and I segued into what I got my degree in which was video production. Right out of my rap career, we’re going to call it that, I worked for Bobby Brown in Atlanta. He had a record company where I was doing promotions and at one point I was a personal assistant which was a lot of fun. It was a great experience. I’ve also worked for some other artists and management companies in the music business and TV stations. There was a Caribbean MTV one time where I was a video editor. So that kind of stuff, those jobs didn’t last all that long. I worked for Bobby for two years but at a certain point I realized that the music business was not really for me on the level in which I was working because it wasn’t stable. A new manager would come in and then my job would be gone.
Thankfully I was flexible, and I went and got an entry level at CNN where I did studio camera work and Tyron which is where you have the picture that the reporter was talking about and all the breaking news typing at the bottom of the screen. I was that person in the control room. I did that for CNN in Atlanta and I moved to New York and did it for the headquarters. For Ed 10 Plaza, I’m sorry, for the financial division at CNN. The background in the entertainment, I stayed in touch with those people even after I left as a performer and then as a promotions person. I stayed in touch with my network which is really important for no matter what industry you’re in I think is to just stay plugged in. Even though I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do I maintained those relationships.
When I went from the music business to television then I was post production work and really enjoyed editing. I took a special interest in editing and ran a video production company for 10 years before I started practicing law. That really is the background of how I was able to jump right into private practice with entertainment and intellectual property coming out of law school. My video production company, one of my clients was DET so I was able to go to Soul Train awards and do red carpet photography and interview the stars. A lot of times I had seen them or interacted with them at some earlier point in my career. So again, being and staying familiar with people in the industry has made a big difference. So now with my lawyer hat on a lot of times I can just remind people of where they know me from and my referral base is pretty huge in that industry.
So I negotiate in need of contract, I draft and negotiate independent contractor agreements. I help people protect their trade secrets a lot of times, especially if it’s a company that has a software platform. You know we’re able to identify the things that are unique to that business where if a competitor knew that then they would lose their edge. So those kinds of agreements I’ve been able, since I’ve worked in that capacity I guess in some respects. I have I guess a stronger appreciation for what is involved and how many hands might cross this particular thing so we’re able to identify specific people in the contract that may be an issue as far as confidentiality in non-compete language that can go in there. It’s a really good mix. I’m grateful for the mix of work. I may, I don’t know, I like to switch it up some. It’s not as predictable as some practice areas I’m thinking but I’ve really enjoyed the clients and the kinds of projects I get to work with.
Davina Frederick: Do you believe that’s probably the key factor, the most important factor in your success so far is that-
Kimra Major-Morris: I’m having fun.
Davina Frederick: Network of contacts. That network of contacts.
Kimra Major-Morris: That too. Yes, I definitely think so because I’m a people person and I don’t know that you have to be a people person to have a strong network. Now I see a lot of people, companies that are engaging brand ambassadors. So if you have somebody, let’s say if I were not an attorney I would probably make a great brand ambassador for somebody who wanted to be plugged into the industry. Sometimes we have to get creative with how we get to these people. So if it’s not your personality to go and be at a networking event or to have these relationships than we can get creative and hire someone who can be the spokesperson or the face of your company who doesn’t mind being in the mix like that.
Davina Frederick: That’s great advice. What do you think the biggest challenge for women entrepreneurs is as opposed to male counterparts is in being entrepreneurs and kind of going from that solo to CEO level in the entertainment industry and in this sort of level?
Kimra Major-Morris: I would say, for me it’s be and from what I can see in other women we are queens of multitasking. So I along the way, I have two daughters and that was the reason why I emerged out of my career as a rapper ’cause at 26 I became a mom. I jokingly tell people that I put the microphone down when my child was born so that I feed her. So I went into this post production world which I must say was extremely rewarding financially. I had no idea because people didn’t talk about production jobs when I was in High School so that was a real eye opener. For women I would say just the amount of things that we have on our plate a lot of times, you know if we’re not mothers or sometimes we’re caregivers to our parents. Right now I am a caregiver. Going through the process of becoming an entrepreneur there was motherhood. There was, I have to constantly be adding to my portfolio my technical skills. As always you have to grow, you have to grow professionally. Then if you decide that you’re going to have a family, if you don’t have the right partner or someone whose supportive of your entrepreneurship and your need to you know if they go to a conference to invest in yourself.
I’ve had for me it’s almost been seamless even though these are some big things. I mean I’ve gone through a divorce, you know all these things can upset us to and depending on how well we manage our emotions we may not be able to focus on building and investing in a business because we feel like we’re being pulled in so many different directions.
Davina Frederick: Right.
Kimra Major-Morris: Where I don’t think it’s as common with men. I have two older brothers and I don’t know, I haven’t seen them with the same kinds of challenges. They seem to be able to focus on, I guess we can all focus on what we choose to focus on but it doesn’t seem that they have any tough choices like the ones I’ve had to make.
Davina Frederick: Yeah. Do you think that’s because women don’t ask for help? Do you think we’re more inclined to just not ask for help?
Kimra Major-Morris: I think, yeah, sometimes we don’t have the support. I went to school-
Davina Frederick: Is it because we don’t ask or accept it or is it because we don’t or because you know people just don’t step up and volunteer. Do they step up and volunteer and we turn it down?
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah it has happened. I think, I don’t know if it’s bad but I can only speak from my personal interactions. With the circle of friends that I have I think sometimes we tell ourselves that we can’t do things. I have some really close friends and they’re talented and they’re brilliant and sometimes we’ll talk about what I think would be strategic and it just stops at the conversation. I think sometimes we get in our head you know we believe the lies that we tell ourselves and it seems like sometimes we-
Davina Frederick: That’s a powerful thing when we believe the lies we tell ourselves.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah and we just don’t move. We get stuck. We get stuck. I don’t know what it’s from.
Davina Frederick: Well despite getting stuck for you, you’ve been recognized by super lawyers as a Florida Rising Star. You’ve worked with Grammy nominated producers on the Voice and American Idol contestants. You’ve had, your career continues to evolve, you continue to work with more and more. So somehow that’s the amazing thing, that’s the thing that always amazes me about working with women is that you know we have these conversations among ourselves. We get together over our wine on girl’s night out, and we have these conversations, and we say you know, we just, we can’t do it all, and we just can’t accomplish these things. Then you start talking and you realize you’re talking to a room full of very accomplished people and we’re doing it all while we’re taking care of parents and children and all of this stuff. I think what it is is that we just, we all have such big dreams and big ideas and we just want more. We just want more.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah. I think we have a responsibility, the way I’ve approached it I have a responsibility to myself. I feel like, I’ve always, I look back and I was kind of joking as I was thinking about what to share. I used to make place mats as a kid and sell them to my neighbors. My mom was a world book encyclopedia representative and I was probably 15 when I was dressed in business attire with my little briefcase selling world book encyclopedias as a teenager. There was something always present in me that liked the feeling of making my own money. I’ve been an employee before, it’s not that I’ve never worked for other people but once I started working for myself I loved it. I love the flexibility in the hours, I love the family time, I love the financial freedom. There’s just so many rewards that you would never experience by being afraid of stepping out on your own. So I just think-
Davina Frederick: Once you get control of that, once you learn that you have control of what you can create, right?
Kimra Major-Morris: Mm-hmm (affirmative)-
Davina Frederick: I would say I can create whatever it is that I want to create and whereas if you’re working, if you’re in a job than you make an agreement for, I’m going to do this amount of work for this amount of money. That’s what you’ve agreed to whereas if you are, once you get in that entrepreneurial mindset you’re sitting here going you no longer saying I can’t afford it is really no longer an option for you because than you’re sitting here going what can I do to afford it? If I want it how do I create it? Then it’s a matter of I don’t want it bad enough to create what I need to create to afford it.
Kimra Major-Morris: Right.
Davina Frederick: Right?
Kimra Major-Morris: Right, it’s all on you.
Davina Frederick: It’s all on you.
Kimra Major-Morris: You take responsibility so that’s why this has been I would say entrepreneurship has been the biggest teacher for personal growth. A lot of times we talk about well you know how there’s the expression that people live check to check. I’ve always said this is blessing to blessing as a business owner you know because you are really just out here sharing with people what you’d like to assist them with and they can always say yes or no. Any time someone wants to work with you and uses their hard earned money to compensate you for the job that you’re doing that’s a big responsibility so it means late nights. What I think about a lot of times when I’m tired, I engage in self-care, I want to make sure I get that out there. I do have a lot of nights where I’m up late because I’m thinking about the feeling of doing a job well and so it’s worth sometimes me losing some sleep but I do make it up to myself. I take breaks. I think that we should as entrepreneurs make sure we build in at least one day off a week.
Davina Frederick: Right, right. Well it’s a different kind of thing, what is the expression? I’d rather work 80 hours a week for myself than 40 hours a week for somebody else right?
Kimra Major-Morris: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Right.
Davina Frederick: Yeah. Well hopefully, I’m not an advocate of that kind of you know like fogging yourself to make a buck kind of thing. I definitely think that there’s a way that we can have a wonderful life with a lot of great things in it and create the kind of prosperity and abundance that we desire at the same time. There’s nothing that says that you’re limited from nine to five to making money. The money’s limited from nine to five. We can only make money from nine to five, you know there’s nothing that says that.
Kimra Major-Morris: Right.
Davina Frederick: We can only have time off from after five or on the weekend or we can only time. When you work for yourself that is the advantage is that you can set your schedule and you can be a little bit more fluid with what you’re doing, you know?
Kimra Major-Morris: Definitely.
Davina Frederick: That is the beauty of that particularly if you’re in today’s world. This is something I want to talk to you about, today’s world with the internet and social media it has changed the way that we do business. You can conduct a business virtually which really leaves us with the opportunity to pop in and pop out 24/7. So we can really set our schedule for whatever works for us.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yes. That’s right.
Davina Frederick: I was reading a post the other day from somebody who said you know if you’re goofing off at three in the afternoon you could probably work more. I looked at that and I’m laughing to myself ’cause my husband normally works out every afternoon at three and the man could not possibly work any more than he does. He works his butt off doing things and I’m laughing at that ’cause I’m going you know we have virtual businesses and our schedules are very fluid. We work at times when other people may be sleeping or doing other things. So you have, that’s one of the wonderful things about your business is you really kind of operate a virtual business in a lot of ways.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yes.
Davina Frederick: You’ve already taken the advantage of technology in operating your business.
Kimra Major-Morris: Absolutely.
Davina Frederick: Which would surprise a lot of people right?
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah, I mean I love it. I got a taste of this so as a video edit. When I had the video production company it was the same thing. I only, I operated my entire business with a laptop, a video camera, a still camera and a hard drive. I could fly anywhere, I could take my laptop and my camera anywhere. I remember the days when I was dragging my camera and tripod through the airport because it was a virtual business. I would only be shooting maybe one or two days out of the week and the rest of the week would be editing. So this virtual life is probably my 20th year as a virtual business owner and it’s great.
Davina Frederick: Wow. Now you can’t imagine having to go someplace and sit in somebody’s office.
Kimra Major-Morris: No. Nope. No. It works, it really does work. I do these consultations for clients over the phone just to get an idea, the discovery call. You know what it is they’re looking for if what they need is something I provide. Once we determine that it’s a good fit I send them the scope of representation in an email. If they accept then the payment links and then after that there’s an intake form where I gather the information we talked about where I have it in a format that I can refer to once I’m conducting the work. They get to review, and it really is, it’s almost seamless. I don’t know that it’ll ever been seamless, but it’s a smooth process where people feel comfortable. You know probably 15 years ago people would not be comfortable with a virtual attorney.
You know I had someone recently, an older person say, “I’m coming, I would like to meet because I need to see the person I’m paying.” Well some people still have that mindset and I don’t mind. I do go and meet with people as needed but it’s usually not more than twice a month. That’s the thing about intellectual property law is it’s federal. Copyright, trademark, trade secret laws they’re federal which means I can represent people anywhere in the country. That’s something that’s different about intellectual property versus family law or another practice. It does come with a lot of benefits for independents and I really enjoy that aspect of my practice.
Davina Frederick: If you need to meet them you can always flip on a camera and meet people via Zoom or something like that.
Kimra Major-Morris: It’s usually an excuse for me to go to Starbucks.
Davina Frederick: You’ll get that coffee, get that coffee fix. It’s good every now and then to put on a little makeup, pull the hair back and get out of the house right?
Kimra Major-Morris: Right.
Davina Frederick: I just think a lot of people really love the, you know we’re on the go so much now people are so busy these days living their own lives doing their own thing that we’ve, especially business people. People who are operating their own business people might use your services that they probably love being able to just communicate with you on the fly and use the technology to be able to communicate with you just say here, can we just send this back and forth and sign this electronically. Can we just text about it, email about it, send it back and forth, meet over you know, flip open a friends time and have a quick conversation or whatever and move on with things.
Kimra Major-Morris: The common response when I tell people you know this is how I run my practice. I’m going to send you this email, you see the payment links. Nine times out of 10 their response is perfect. Your right, people don’t have time for in person meeting.
Davina Frederick: Especially if you’re dealing with virtual entrepreneurs. I mean so many entrepreneurs are running internet businesses, virtual businesses themselves these days.
Kimra Major-Morris: Mm-hmm (affirmative). So good.
Davina Frederick: Are those a lot of your clients, and I would imagine get a lot of entertainment business clients, you’re probably dealing with that too.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yes. Well it’s nice because a large part of my referral base is not just former clients or current clients but it’s other attorneys too because this is a more specialized practice area. I get a large number of referrals from other attorneys, so that’s nice.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, because your area is specialized and so I think one of the common misconceptions that the public has about attorneys is that or kind of blocking talking.
Kimra Major-Morris: We know everything.
Davina Frederick: That’s like Wikipedias of the law and we know everything about every area of practice. As attorneys it’s really good to have a network of fellow attorneys who specialize and focus in different areas so that we’re like ah, when somebody calls on us and says you know I need help in this area and we don’t know anything about it because except what we vaguely remember from law school.
Kimra Major-Morris: Right.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, I remember taking Patent Law in Law School and the patents laws a very specialized area and you have to have a certain undergraduate degree to be able to be a patent law attorney. I don’t have the undergraduate degree that is required for that but I had to take it in Law School because of the timing of it and everything. Yeah, so I vaguely remember the things I learned in Patent Law so it’s always good to have people that you know in different areas that you can say, hey.
Kimra Major-Morris: Oh yeah, certainly do. Yeah, I don’t even take it. I let the, if they’re calling and I, they might be on their second sentence but if I hear anything along the lines of immigration or some family I immediately, I don’t even let people finish. I just say wait.
Davina Frederick: Wait.
Kimra Major-Morris: Let me explain the whole thing. I have a referral.
Davina Frederick: Exactly. Exactly. Well, I think, let’s just, we’re kind of at the end of our hour here so before we wrap up, I want to get some final thoughts from you. Are there any, is there anything that you kind of last thoughts that you want to leave us with regard to intellectual property that as business owners, solos, transforming on our journey. Small business owners that are on our journey to CEOs of larger businesses that we need to know about protecting our intellectual property whether that’s our trademarks or our trade secrets or copyrighting our materials. I know there’s a lot of stuff that you could share with us. We could go on for hours, right? I just want any sort of golden nugget that you think is just critical that you want to leave us with at the last minute before we sign off.
Kimra Major-Morris: Okay, sure. Okay. One of the ones that popped into my head was we have identity theft. You know as people but there is a thing, business or brand identity theft. It is what you think about when you think about the importance of protecting your trademark. You want to make sure that you have protections in place for your brand identity. That includes your business, your business logo, your slogan, anything that’s going to help people identify your business for the products and services that you’re selling. You want to make sure you invest in protecting that because if someone infringes it could upset things financially and it’s costly to pay for the assistance to iron things out a lot of times. Another one that people often overlook if you have business partners and you are all going into let’s say any kind of industry you want to incorporate language about the intellectual property in your partnership agreement. Because when one tries to leave do they get to continue to use the business name? So that kind of stuff is really touchy you know if it’s not dealt with upfront.
So, include business, intellectual property, your trademarks, your copyright, you know any content, anything. If one person created it but your group of three business partners is using the thing that you created you know have you worked that out, the percentages based on what you contributed? Is there a copyright registration? You have to make sure you’re thinking about how to protect the work and how the contributors are going to be on the record. Sometimes, often that gets overlooked and that’s a big one. It happens a lot of times with music groups. You know you have people still going out and saying that they’re with the group and they’re not so that’s a big one.
As far as, did you have a question?
Davina Frederick: No, no. Go ahead. I was just going to add that for it’s a big, I would imagine it would be a big thing to for family businesses in it weathers a married couple and then divorce. Speaking as a former family law attorney. In divorce, you know that would be an asset of a marriage, you know, could be if a marriage splits up and there’s a partnership there as well you know.
Kimra Major-Morris: Absolutely. You want to also have language in there for your independent contractors. That has to do with the intellectual property. You have an in house graphic designer and they’re creating all the artwork and doing different things but if there’s no transfer of ownership in writing that person still owns the art. That’s just not something that people think of, they think well if I hire this person and I paid them then it’s mine. That’s not how copyright law works, you have to have an assignment or some sort of long term license or something in place to make sure you, the business owner, has a right to continue to use the creative content after the relationship is over. So those copy written-
Davina Frederick: That is a huge, that’s a huge one. That is so interesting to me because I’ve had many, hired many photographers and graphic designers and it’s always amazing to me how many of them send me things. I own, they said I owned this you know?
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah, without even thinking about.
Davina Frederick: They said I own it and I’m sitting here going wait a minute, I paid you for it, what do you mean you own it?
Kimra Major-Morris: Right, it’s like the wedding photographer. A lot of times people think wait, I paid thousands of dollars for you to capture my wedding, what do you mean I don’t own the footage? You own a copy of the footage so unless you have, unless there’s specific language in that agreement that says that the photographer or videographer is assigning their ownership in the content ’cause whoever captures it is the author, is the copyright owner. So they are the copyright owner of your wedding video but you paid them to capture it. You didn’t pay them to capture it and assign the rights. So a lot of times that’s for obvious reasons confusing to people because most of us think if we’re paying for something we should own it but copyright law is different.
Davina Frederick: Yeah, yeah. There’s so many things that we could get into with this and so many questions I could ask you but I think we’ve covered a whole lot here today and I really, really appreciate it. Thank you so much.
Kimra Major-Morris: Thank you for having Davina. Yes, I appreciate it and always I love what you do. I don’t know, I just want to say that I have been the beneficiary of your coaching. You helped me to definitely put some things on my radar to be more conscious of because I’ve been guilty of being the SOLO with all capital letters. So, as I continue on this journey to be, I would say a bonafide CEO I just want to for the things that you’ve put on my radar and I’m working through my list, but it is a journey. You know we just have to stay motivated to continue on.
Davina Frederick: That’s right and have fun along the way because that’s really what it’s about too, it’s just enjoying everything in life. So tell us how we can find you on the inter webs.
Kimra Major-Morris: Well my website is majormorrislaw.com. If you’d like to schedule a consultation you can click on the contact tab that’s to the upper far right. On Instagram I am kimraesq. I’m not as active on Twitter but you can still find me on there, my handle is iammajor.
Davina Frederick: Perfect.
Kimra Major-Morris: Yeah.
Davina Frederick: Perfect.
Kimra Major-Morris: Of course, you can find me on LinkedIn, but I tend to only accept those people that I know so if you don’t send me a note than I’m likely not going to commit.
Davina Frederick: Alright so they can go to, I mean the best place probably is your website. Full of great information about you and about what you do and how you can help people and how they can schedule a consultation with you. So that is good. Thanks so much Kimra and I look forward to talking with you more.
Kimra Major-Morris: Thank you again, Davina.