Thursday, April 28, 2016

Ohio State Seeks to Trademark "Woody Hayes"

The Ohio State University has filed a trademark application to protect its use of the name of Woody Hayes, the legendary coach of five national championship-winning Buckeye teams.

While this marks the second Ohio State coach whose name has been trademarked by the university — Urban Meyer's name was officially registered a year ago — the need for the designation predates the Meyer registration by many years, said Rick Van Brimmer, director of trademark and licensing services at Ohio State.

"We've been using Woody's image and name on products for years," Van Brimmer said. "But we've had an increasing number of people using our marks. This helps us in the long run."

The use of Hayes' name "started very innocently, with 'Woody' on the back of a hat, which we called 'the Woody Hat' because it was the kind of hat he wore with the block 'O' on the front," Van Brimmer said.

The trademark application is currently pending before the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Do You Know Your Surface Water Rights?

Spring is coming, and that means a lot of rain in my part of the country. This reminds me of some issues that have come up with clients who were surprised to when their backyards flooded what the law of surface water rights is.

The Supreme Court of Ohio has held that land of a lower elevation is burdened with a "servitude" to receive the natural flow of surface water from land of a higher elevation. That means that your neighbor with the higher ground has an implied right to allow his or her surface water to flow onto your property. But, do you have to take it? Yes ... well mostly. You only have to take that surface water onto your property so long as it comes in its natural state and quantity, and only so long as the flow of that surface water has not been altered by some artificial means. Your uppity neighbor cannot manage his or her flooding problems by building a channel that captures or redirects surface water and then causes it to flow as a stream onto your property.

Somewhat different rules apply if your land is considered to be in an urban location versus a rural location. The cases have not developed distinctions in the definitions of urban versus rural, so it is best to speak to a lawyer if you have questions.

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Franklin County Offers New Online Tool to Protect Property From Fraud

Earlier this year, the Franklin County Recorder’s Office announced a new electronic feature to help protect title holders from fraud. The free program, FraudSleuth, permits you to register your name to receive alerts if any activity occurs with respect to property titled in your name. It protects against certain acts of fraud where thieves file deeds to transfer property into their names and then mortgage the property to obtain loans. Properties with no liens are especially at risk. FraudSleuth also allows you to register to receive alerts if there is title activity involving someone else’s name, which is useful for monitoring the title of elderly parents.

More from the Columbus Dispatch:

The system is designed to let consumers know whether a mechanic’s lien has been filed against their home. But it can be used in other ways as well. Because a consumer can get alerts on someone else, it would allow a person, for example, to discover whether an elderly parent unwittingly signed a contract for their home.

FraudSleuth has been helpful, for instance, in alerting homeowners and their families of a rash of reverse-mortgage filings in Michigan, said Jeff Rothenberg of PropertyInfo, the software company hired by the county for the new system.

Because it sends alerts only about something that has already happened, the program can’t, of course, prevent such filings. But you’re a lot better off knowing about a lien the moment it happens instead of discovering it when you’re preparing to sell the home or refinance.

While we have not seen any specific instances of this type of fraud occurring to our clients, we are aware that electronic and identity theft are on the rise. We recommend that our clients sign up for FraudSleuth today in order to protect their title. You can enroll for free by registering on the Franklin County Recorder’s Property Search webpage.