Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Business Law

When the USPTO issues an office action item against your trademark application, you must review the notice carefully and take appropriate steps to respond.  The list below is an example of the action items and a brief description.

Examiner’s Amendment:  An examiner’s amendment is a written acknowledgment of a change made to an application.  Unless you disagree with the examining attorney’s changes, you may not need to take any action.  However, if you disagree with the change made, you may be able to dispute the change.

Priority Action:  A priority action indicates the examining attorney has identified a problem with your application, and action is required, by you, to ensure your application is not abandoned.  Typically, you have six months to respond to a priority action.  You should review the notice and contact an attorney as soon as possible to help you correct the issue and ensure your application is not abandoned.

Non-Final Office Action notices are raising issues for the first time.  You must examine the document and the items the USPTO is asking you to comply with.  This is a critical time in your application process.  Be sure to read the notice carefully and take appropriate steps to ensure your application can continue to be processed.  If you have not already, you should consult with an experienced trademark lawyer.  You want the application you filed to be approved as close to your initial vision of the trademark you had.  Without proper action, your application may be abandoned.

A Final Office Action is the most severe and indicates that the applicant has failed to respond to the requests or comply with the requested changes from the previous office action notices.  You should consult with an attorney if you have received a Final Office Action Notice.  You may need to file an appeal with the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

Suspension Letter: There are many reasons you may receive a suspension letter.  An applicant is not required to respond to the suspension letters.  However, if you wish to continue to pursue your trademark application, you should contact an experienced trademark lawyer to evaluate your options.

You typically have six (6) months to respond to an office action.  You should know that there are NO EXTENSIONS granted for responses to an office action.  If you fail to respond to an office action promptly, your application will be considered abandoned.  You must review any notices you receive from the USPTO immediately and take action. You should check your letter with an attorney to ensure you can file a response in a timely manner and keep your application moving forward.

Applications are typically abandoned for three reasons: failure to respond, failure to file a Statement of Use, or because of an incomplete response.  Abandonment means the application is no longer pending, and it cannot mature into a registered trademark. As with all abandoned notices, you should consult with a lawyer to discuss what actions can be done to revive your application.

Failure to Respond to Office Action:  If you fail to respond timely to an official office action notice, you will receive an official notice of abandonment.  You may be able to file a Petition to Revive, but you should consult with an experienced trademark lawyer and decide how to proceed.  Remember, filing a trademark application is a legal proceeding. The USPTO has numerous lawyers reviewing your application and looking to see if all the federal trademark laws have been satisfied.

Failing to File a Statement of Use: A statement of Use is a statement signed by the applicant explaining the purpose or use of the mark in commerce. With a statement of Use, the owner must submit: (1) a filing fee of $100 per class of goods/services; and (2) at least one specimen showing Use of the mark in commerce for each class of goods/services.

Abandoned because of an incomplete response:  This often happens when someone unintentionally delays responding to an office action requirement.  There may be recourse an experienced trademark attorney can discuss with you and help you review your application’s status.

Once you file your trademark application, you should regularly check your application’s status to ensure no action items have been filed against your application.  The time it takes for the USPTO to approve an application can be lengthy.  As an applicant, you should be checking your application status every three to four weeks.  This is extremely important to prevent time-lapses against your pending application should an office action be issued against your trademark application.

WARNING!   Failure to respond to an office action will cause your application to be abandoned.  An abandoned application will prevent your trademark from becoming registered.

Don’t delay acting on any type of notice you receive from the USPTO.  You have worked hard to define your business through your trademark, and you deserve to protect it.  The USPTO office has many lawyers working to ensure that all trademarks fall under the federal laws for trademark filing.  You should have an experienced trademark lawyer working and fighting for your brand, too.

Personal Injury

The most important thing you should do is get the necessary medical treatment needed. If you do not need immediate care and can remain at the scene of the accident there are some crucial steps to ensure the most value from your car accident

      1. Take videos and photographs of the scene, damages, and all parties information.
      2. You will need the other parties’ drivers license information, insurance information, work information (if on the clock), any witlessness information and a police report
      3. Make sure you have called the police!

Once you have retained one of our attorneys, we will start a claim and establish liability. Typically, a client will go through a treatment process then the attorney will fight vigorously for you to maximize your settlement

The Statue of Limitations is 2 years in the State of Texas. This mean that you have two years from the date of loss to file a lawsuit or accept a settlement. However, the best time to call your lawyer is immediately.

Our firm operates on a contingency fee basis. This means we only recover a fee if a settlement is reached. If a settlement isn’t reached, you owe us nothing.

Without an attorney your chances of securing the maximum recovery can substantially decrease. With years of experience, our attorneys can fight to secure the best possible settlement for you and your family, keeping you informed every step of the way.

Litigation begins when the plaintiff files a petition or complaint with the court and formally delivers a copy to the defendant. This document describes what the defendant did or did not do that caused the plaintiff harm and the legal basis for holding the defendant responsible for the harm.  You are required to “serve” the defendant(s) with a copy of the lawsuit.

The rules require the plaintiff to “serve” the defendant a copy of the lawsuit.  Sometimes this can be difficult as defendants change addresses or even dodge the process server.  In that case it may be necessary (with the court’s permission) to serve the lawsuit paperwork on the defendant in an alternative manner.  In certain situations, the court may even allow the defendant to be served by publishing notice of the lawsuit in the newspaper.

The first phase of a lawsuit is called the “discovery” phase.  The “discovery” phase allows the parties to obtain documents, materials, and information to prepare the case for trial. Discovery is usually the longest part of the case. It typically begins soon after a lawsuit is filed and often does not stop until shortly before trial. During the discovery phase, the parties send requests to the other parties and third parties for information about the facts and issues of the case. Information is obtained through written questions (“interrogatories”), requests for production of documents and other materials, and requests for a party to admit or deny a statement of fact.  During the discovery period, the parties are also allowed to question individuals under oath in a deposition setting.

A deposition is a witness’s sworn out-of-court testimony. Depositions are used to obtain information regarding the case and the witness.  Your deposition will likely be taken by the other parity’s attorney at some point.  This is standard in most civil cases.  However, try not to stress as your attorney will prepare you for your deposition and be present the entire time you are being questioned.  Depositions also may be used at trial to show inconsistencies in a witness’s story or to question the witness’s credibility.

If you were injured and treated by a medical professional, then yes.  Medical professionals such as doctors are generally considered expert witnesses.  Their testimony can be crucial to a particular case.  Additionally, expert witnesses are used to determine liability, the existence and amount of the plaintiff’s damages, and even attorney’s fees in certain cases. Retained expert witnesses are typically paid by one of the parties and work closely with the party that hired them to prepare the party’s case.

It is important to prepare all cases as if the case is going to trial.  Being prepared shows the other side that you are ready to fight in court, if needed.  However, while no exact data is available, the U.S. Department of Justice estimated that only about 4% of personal injury cases actually go to trial.  This is means it is likely that your case will be resolved in some sort of settlement.  Often, cases are resolved at mediation.  Our goal is to get the best result for your particular case, whether that be through a settlement agreement or trial verdict.

Mediation is a process where the parties attempt to resolve their dispute with the assistance of an impartial third party, the mediator.  The mediator is typically a neutral attorney who attempts to help the parties reach a resolution.  The parties and attorneys are often required to attend mediation.  Mediation can be very efficient in getting your case settled.

Sometimes the parties do not see eye to eye and the case cannot be resolved outside of court.  In this situation, the case will go to trial.  But do not stress.  Our firm is prepared to fight for you in court.  We will make sure you and your case are ready to go if a trial is needed.

Bankruptcy Law

No. Chapter 7 bankruptcy only exists as an aspect of your credit score for seven years. After that, you will be freed from any lingering costs to your credit score.

No. While this is one of the most common misconceptions around Chapter 7, it is only that – a myth. New bankruptcy laws mandate that you are allowed to keep your house and likely your vehicle if it is worth the right amount. There is no credit to the claim that you will be out of your house due to a Chapter 7 filing.

No. 401(k)s, IRAs, and most other retirement assets cannot be leveraged as a result of a Chapter 7 filing period.

Most unsecured debts can be discharged in bankruptcy.  These include credit card debts, loans without collateral (including pay day loans) and medical bills and other debts.  These debts can be discharged in most cases even after a lawsuit has been filed and/or a judgment has been entered.  A discharge in bankruptcy wipes out your personal liability for the debt   Secured debts (those supported by collateral, such as house and car loans) cannot be discharged in bankruptcy, unless the collateral is surrendered to the creditor.

Generally, alimony, child support, many student loans, many taxes, and many criminal fines and restitution obligations cannot be discharged in a chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Certain debts incurred fraudulently or due to intentional misrepresentation may also not be discharged if the creditor objects to discharge of that debt.

A chapter 7 bankruptcy says on your credit report for 10 years from the date the case is filed.  While bankruptcy is considered a negative factor on your credit report and often results in a lower credit score, in some cases declaring bankruptcy improves a client’s credit score.  The longer the time since the bankruptcy filing, the less impact it will have on your credit report.

No.  You may retain your homestead and one car per licensed driver in your household, provided you are current on your payments (if any) and continue to make them.

Yes.  Under FHA and VA guidelines, you may qualify for a home loan 2 to 5 years after your bankruptcy is completed, provided you meet the applicable lending criteria.  Many car lenders will finance a car immediately after completion of your bankruptcy case, and some are even willing to finance a car during the pendency of a bankruptcy case.  This again assumes that you meet the creditor’s lending criteria.  Our clients often get preapproved credit cards after filing for bankruptcy, since creditors may perceive a person with a freshly completed bankruptcy to be a better credit risk than someone whose debts have not been discharged.  It is possible that you will be charged a higher interest rate than someone with “perfect” credit, but the longer the time since the bankruptcy filing, the less impact it will have on you.

Our fees vary depending on the circumstances of each individual case.  However, we offer a 100% free consultation and will quote you a firm fee prior to your retaining our firm to file a chapter 7 bankruptcy.  Bankruptcy fees are overseen by the Bankruptcy Court to ensure that they are fair and reasonable.

We offer flexible installment payment plans with affordable monthly payments custom tailored to each client. In Chapter 7 cases, all fees must be paid prior to filing the case.

Employment Law

First, you want to find a firm that has the expertise. A firm that only does some type of employment law and that they are well versed in the interchange between various Texas labor statute and employment statutes. The first issue is finding a firm that has deep knowledge of Texas employment law.

Second, find a law firm that is well funded or has the resources to make sure that your claim is followed through all the way to the end. It’s important to have a firm that has the resources to make sure that depositions are taken, documents are produced, and your issues are advocated to the full extent.

Finally, find a law firm that truly has trial experience. It is important for you to find an attorney that has true trial experience that feels comfortable in front of a jury and that can advocate for you.

We have the privilege of representing women and men who have found out the fantastic news that they’re about to have a baby or that they just had a baby. Unfortunately, when they call us, it’s them calling us because it hasn’t been great news for their employer. Employer in Texas can’t retaliate against an employee for being pregnant.

If you have questions about the reaction or choices that your employer made as a result of a pregnancy, it’s important for you to understand that you have rights and that you talk to an attorney to explain those rights to you. If I can answer any of those questions, feel free to give us a call. We are happy to discuss what rights you may have as it relates to your employer.

One issue that sometimes comes up is the issue of discrimination based on gender and/or sex, in which the employer is making a decision as to what positions the employee can hold based on the gender or sex of the employee. If you have been discriminated against by you employer because of your gender or sex, you first have to file what is called a charge with the EEOC or Texas Workforce Commission to allow them to investigate. At the end of their investigation, they will issue a right to sue letter. When you receive the right to sue letter you, then you can file a lawsuit against your employer. At Fears Law, we can help you with filing your charge of discrimination or retaliation.

If you feel that you’ve been subject to gender discrimination either in the assignments you are being given, promotional opportunities you are being given, or in your pay, it’s important for you to understand that you do have rights and that you should talk to an attorney. If I can answer any of those questions, feel free to give us a call.

One issue that comes up often is there are some employees that are receiving preferential treatment versus other employees. Typically, in these situations an individual is being treated differently at work and they’re trying to figure out why. For example, it could be men in the office are being given better assignments or better leads than the women in the office or maybe a women’s job title and her job responsibilities are just the same as her male counterparts, but she believes, or she knows, or she suspects that they actually receive more money than her for doing the same type of work.

There are other times in which people feel, because of their race, they’re being treated differently than everyone else. This might involve compensation, promotional opportunities, or just be the type of work that’s actually being assigned.

If you work or have worked for a company and you feel that you have being subjected to discrimination or you have been retaliated against because you complained about discrimination, it’s important for you to find a law firm that can answer your questions and represent you if you make a decision to file a lawsuit. If you have any questions regarding discrimination in the workplace for whatever reason or retaliation for complaining about discrimination in the workplace, feel free to give Fears Law a call. We are here to answer any questions that you may have regarding those issues.

The American Disabilities Act (“ADA”) is a federal law that was passed to protect individuals with disabilities, both for work issues and non-work issues.

A lot of times in the employment setting for a disability claim under ADA an employee either has been injured at work and come back with work restrictions or has work restrictions for a non-work-related injury. What happens is the employer is presented with a doctor’s note that says that either for a short period of time or for a long period of time an employee can’t do a certain task that is related to their job. By the time that they contact us or reach out to a law firm, it’s because the employers made the decision that, as a result of the work restrictions, they can’t accommodate the employee; as a result, they terminate the employee, or they prevent the employee from doing certain aspects of their job that they know that they can do. It is important to know that a disability as defined by the ADA covers limitation to any major life function that prohibits a person from doing their job or an essential function of their job without an accommodation from the employer.

If you’ve received work restrictions for a work-related injury or a non-work-related injury, it’s important for you to understand that under the ADA, you have rights. You have the right to continue working for your employer, as long as it’s not an undue burden on the employer to accommodate your disability. It’s important for you to understand under what circumstances the employer has to accommodate you so you can continue working. If you have questions regarding the ADA or just questions about the fact that a doctor has given you restrictions and those restrictions are causing problems at work, it’s important for you to talk to an attorney about that. If you have any questions, call Fears Law and we can discuss.

One of the main types of cases we take are cases in which an employee is given work restrictions that require an accommodation, but, as a result of the work restrictions, the employer isn’t allowing the employee to continue the work. Either the employee is being asked to stay out on leave for an extended period of time, despite the fact that the employee believes that they can work with an accommodation, or the employer has made the decision that as a result of the accommodation request that they have to terminate the employee.

Under Texas law, it is extremely important for employees to know that they have rights. The employer has what’s called an affirmative obligation to engage in what is called the “interactive process” (a back and forth with the employee) to try and determine whether or not the employee can do their job either with accommodation or without accommodation so that they continue to work for the company. If the employee can’t do their normal customary job with an accommodation, it still doesn’t mean that the employee has to be terminated. Another form of accommodation could be moving the employee to a vacant position within the company that would allow the employee to continue to work with or without the accommodation. Sometimes an employer doesn’t want a person working for them with restrictions, and they will throw up roadblocks or come up with excuses or simply just say, “No, you have to be 100% or you can’t come back.” If many of these cases, there is a violation of the ADA. It’s important for you to find an attorney that is well versed in the ADA as it relates to the employer’s obligation to provide an accommodation to permit the employee to continue working. It’s also the employer’s obligation to engage in a good faith and timely interactive process to make sure that the employee can continue working. If you have any questions regarding the employer’s obligation under ADA, or what to do now that you have work restrictions and the employer isn’t returning you back to work, call Fears Law today.

If for example an employee has worked for the company for 25 years, and is over the age of 40, his manager keeps asking him when he was going to retire and that maybe it’s time to move on. There are comments about him being slower than he used to be and that maybe the technology has just moved past him and that maybe he should look for something else. The employee complains to his manager or HR that he feels like he was being targeted because of his age, the employee is then terminated. Under Texas law, it’s important to understand that employees that are older have protection. In fact, employees over the age of 40 have protection under Texas law from age discrimination. Age discrimination can take various forms and have a devastating impact on older employees. If you’ve been working for a company and you feel, whether or not you’ve been working for that company for 20, 30 years or whether or not you’ve been working for them for 4 or 5 years, but things have changed and you believe it’s because of your age, it’s important that you find an attorney that can address those issues, whether or not you continue to work for that company or whether or not you’ve been let go from that company. If you have any questions regarding your employment and those questions involve age or any other issue, make sure that you contact an attorney that has the knowledge and the resources to answer those questions for you. Call Fears Law today.

The short answer is yes. For example, an employee is nervous because she is still employed a company and she had claims or issues related to discrimination or harassment she wants resolved but she really doesn’t want to file a charge with the EEOC or Texas Workforce Commission or a lawsuit, but she just wanted the harassing or discriminatory conduct to stop. What steps should a current employee take?

The steps as a current employee that you should take really do vary depending on the situation and on the employee. What type of risk are you comfortable with? What type of confrontation with a supervisor or co-worker do you feel comfortable with? Often people are scared to go to HR. They are scared to say anything.

It’s important to note that, while you’re employed, you have rights. There are also various steps you can take to preserve, protect, and exercise your rights. For different employees, the response is different. Just like with different employers, their response to your concerns are different. Sometimes employers do the right thing. Then there’s those circumstances in which employers just do the wrong thing. It’s in those circumstances, in which they do the wrong thing that you want to make sure you’re protected.

If you’re in a position in which you are a current employee and you are wondering what the next step is, it is important for you to talk to an attorney to help you decide what the best step to take in light of your situation. If you have questions as to what the next step should be, Call Fears Law today.

It depends on the situation. If an employer makes a decision to pay an employee a different rate it can be done for a lawful reason.

In Texas, the laws are very clear that you can’t pay a different rate of pay because of someone’s race, gender, religion, disability or national origin.

It is always interesting when an employer makes a decision to pay new employees more than loyal employees that have been there for years. Sometimes employees are paid less just because they agreed to less and they negotiated a rate that was less, and that’s really all it is. Other times, it’s intentional discrimination. Whatever the case might be, sometimes that decision to pay more is intentional, and the boss made a calculated decision to pay one group of people less than another group of people. Sometimes it’s unintentional and they didn’t set up to treat people differently, but ultimately do. In Texas, both intentional and sometimes unintentional discrimination when it comes to pay are both unlawful.

If you feel that you’re being discriminated against because of an unlawful reason, because of who you are or because in the past you have complained about certain behavior, and as a result you have been penalizing by receiving less pay than your co-workers, it’s important for you to understand that you may have rights, and it’s important for you to address those rights in a timely fashion. Every day that goes by is another day your employer can argue that their conduct is lawful. If you have questions regarding whether or not you have rights under Texas law as a result of being paid less than a co-worker, it’s important for you to talk to a law firm. Call Fears Law today.

If a supervisor or manager treats you differently than all their other employees, these actions could constitute discrimination. Under Texas law, employees are protected from being treated differently for unlawful reasons. Additionally, Texas law generally prohibits, an employer from retaliating or discriminating against for unlawful reasons. What is an unlawful reason?

  1. An employer can’t discriminate against you because of your race, gender, age, national origin, religion, or disability.
  2. An employer can’t retaliate or discriminate against you because you complained about conduct that you believe is unlawful.
  3. An employer can’t retaliate against you because you believe that you’re being subjected to unsafe working conditions.

There are many different ways in which employees are protected from discrimination and retaliation. If you have a question as to whether or not you’re being treated differently at work and whether or not that reason may be unlawful, it is important for you to talk to an attorney that has experience on those issues. Call Fears Law today.

Compensation is typically classified into various buckets. There are wages from the time of an unlawful discrimination or retaliation through time of trial. Also, there is front or future wages. For example, if you found a new job, but you are not making as much as you used to, or you found a job making as much as you’re used to but it doesn’t have the health insurance or retirement benefits the old job offered. That has value and would be compensable if you prevailed in your claims against your employer. You would be asking the jury for all those benefits between the termination or the unlawful conduct through trial, as well as the compensation going forward that the jury believes you are reasonably entitled to receive. You are also entitled to emotional distress resulting from the employer’s unlawful conduct. A Fears Law we will ask the jury to compensate you for every minute of emotional distress that you suffered.

Losing a job has an impact more than most people can contemplate until it happens. How are you going to pay for the bills? How are you going to pay for schooling or tutoring for a child? How are you going to cover medical issues that have come up now that you don’t have medical insurance? The stress associated with these worries can be compensable and is called emotional distress. Some employers will also be subject to punitive damages (compensation to the employee that punishes the employer), a damage to truly punish the employer to try and make sure that the employer never does this again to another employee. Additionally, employers could be responsible for your attorney’s fees and costs.