Branding 101: Trademark Usage Manuals

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199We have talked about why it is important to use your trademark consistently. The easiest way to be sure that everyone in your organization knows the proper way to use the company’s trademarks is to create and distribute a trademark usage manual. The trademark usage manual should include easy to follow guidelines setting out that the mark is to be used as an adjective and not a noun, as well as the proper font, colors etc. that should be used to depict the mark. The usage manual does not need to be a complex or confusing document. It should be a straightforward listing of the acceptable ways that the company’s trademark should be used. Continue Reading

Orders can be submitted by text – the Joint Commission update

cellphone137457731On April 29, 2016, the Joint Commission released an update (“Update”) providing for the use of text messaging to submit orders for patient care, treatment, or services to the hospital or other health care settings for all accreditation programs. Back in 2011, the Joint Commission believed that the technology necessary to secure contents of a text message, verify the identity of the person sending the message, and retain the original message within the medical record were not readily available, and, therefore, prohibited the use of text messaging to submit orders. However, this has changed as reasonably accessible technology has been developed which mitigates the security and record retention risks the Joint Commission previously identified. In the Update, the Joint Commission said, “effective immediately, licensed independent practitioners or other practitioners in accordance with professional standards of practice, law and regulation, and policies and procedures may text orders as long as a secure text messaging platform is used and the required components of an order are included.” Continue Reading

Branding 101 – Proper use of trademark symbols and attribution statements

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199In our companion post we are talking about the importance of using your trademarks in a consistent manner. This consistency helps consumers know that when they see KalmKap that it identifies a product coming from a single company and that they can trust that the quality is the same as the last time they bought the product. Consistent use helps to identify your mark as being owned by you. Another way identify your marks as belonging to you is use the recognized trademark symbols and to make appropriate attribution statements somewhere within your ads. Continue Reading

Branding 101: Trademark Audit – Using your marks consistently (why you need a trademark style guide)

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199We have discussed the need to use your trademarks as adjectives and not nouns or verbs to avoid having them becoming descriptive or even generic terms. A good quick test to see if you are using the mark correctly is to remove the mark from the sentence and see if it still makes sense. If you still have a functional sentence, you are using the mark correctly. So, “Buy XYZ surgical equipment, it will make your day easier” still makes sense without the mark: “Buy surgical equipment, it will make your day easier.” However “Buy XYZ, it will make your day easier” makes no sense without the mark: “Buy, it will make your day easier.” Continue Reading

Branding 101 – The Trademark Audit: Introduction

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199A trademark audit is at its most basic an asset inventory. But instead of tracking down and counting blood pressure monitors, otoscopes and scalpels you are tracking down words, phrases and pictures (logos) that you are using to promote your business to the public. And instead of checking and noting the condition of physical items and culling out those that are beyond repair or use, your trademark auditor will be determining what words, phrases and pictures (logos) you are using as trademarks and whether you are using these marks properly. It may also find that you are using marks that no longer conform to your desired public image or mission statement and that need to be retired. Continue Reading

CMS’ quest for quality – proposed merit-based and alternative payment model rules released

dollar-signiStock_000013001848_LargeOn April 27, 2016, the Department of Health & Human Services Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released its proposed rule regarding models for tying professional reimbursement to quality. While this may be great news for providers who enjoy the challenges of tracking and reporting data, these challenges are going to cause problems (namely, reimbursement reductions) for some providers. Regardless of whether providers think this is good or bad, providers should start looking at the proposed regulations now because, as proposed, quality-based payments will be a fact of life for all physicians, mid-levels, CRNAs and groups effective Jan. 1, 2019. The regulations will be published in the May 9, 2016, Federal Register. The comment period will officially start at that time and run through 5 p.m. on June 27, 2016. Continue Reading

Branding 101: Proper use of a trademark – It’s all in the grammar

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199A trademark is an adjective. It is not a noun or a verb. Why?  Because, a trademark’s purpose is to identify the source or origin of a product, NOT to identify the product itself. You have gone to great lengths to find a mark that is not descriptive of your product, and we have discussed that generic marks can never be a trademark, so you do not now want to use your mark in such a way that you cause to become descriptive or generic. Continue Reading

How the Supreme Court will limit False Claims Act liability for implied certification

gavel2-touched upIn some courts in the United States today, a government contractor or a healthcare provider seeking reimbursement from a federal program can violate the False Claims Act even when its work is satisfactory and its invoices are correct. Under the theory of “implied certification,” a minor instance of non-compliance with one of the thousands of applicable statutes, regulations, and contract provisions can be the basis for a federal investigation, years of litigation, as well as fines, penalties, suspension and debarment, even imprisonment of company personnel. Continue Reading

Branding 101 – The Registration Process

curtains_000003766048Small1-001-300x199The mark has been chosen, the trademark search was clear, and it has been decided that the mark should be registered. The next step in the process is straightforward – file an intent to use (ITU) trademark application.

It is not necessary or recommended to wait until the mark has been used to file the application. An application can be filed based on your bone fide intent to use the mark in the future. However, the application will not register until after use begins. Once use begins, a separate statement is filed claiming this use. This statement can be filed prior to approval for publication of the mark, or after issuance of a notice of allowance. There is a blackout period, between approval for publication and issuance of the notice of allowance during which a use statement cannot be filed. If the use statement is filed prior to publication, the application will proceed to registration once the publication period is complete (if no opposition was filed). Continue Reading

Austin becomes first Texas city to “Ban the Box”

checkboxA new ordinance went into effect April 4, 2016, which prohibits many employers in Austin from asking job applicants about their criminal histories until they’re well into the hiring process. The Fair Chance Hiring Ordinance, colloquially known as the “Ban the Box” measure, will forbid most employers from considering an applicant’s criminal record until after making a conditional offer of employment. Thus, Austin employers must evaluate whether the ordinance will affect their operations and, if so, what steps they need to take to alter their hiring processes and related guidelines. Continue Reading