Question 1: Can your business register a trademark that is a foreign, non-English word?
Answer: - Not always. Interesting question. If your proposed trademark, when translated into English, resembles an already registered or pending mark such that it is likely that a potential consumer would be confused, mistaken, or deceived as to the source of the goods and/or services, then the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) might refuse registration. For example, Marche Noir, Lupo, Bien Jolie. This is because of the so-called "doctrine of foreign equivalents" which precludes registration of a foreign word mark in such situations. But there are certain exceptions to this doctrine. For example, when the word or phrase you want to register as your trademark is taken from an obsolete, dead or obscure language, which is unfamiliar to the ordinary American buying public. In that case, you can argue that the doctrine of foreign equivalents does not apply. But you and your attorney would need to do a careful analysis of your proposed trademark to determine whether the potential refusal can be overcome.
Question 2: How can you ensure that your real and other property is inherited by the people you choose, and not by the state?
Answer: - The best way is to deal with it is when you buy it - put the title into the names of the people you have chosen as beneficiary or beneficiaries of the property. In New York, coops and condos have specific rules as to how a coop or condo can be passed down to a beneficiary upon death of the owner. With condos, which are considered real estate, you can pass it down to any beneficiary, but you need to review the condominium's documents to determine whether the condo board has a right to buy it outright under the right of first refusal. With coop apartments, which are in essence shares in a corporation, it is more complicated. Coop boards usually require approval of any transfer or sale of shares. A married couple usually avoids complications by owning the shares as "tenants by the entirety." When one spouse dies, the other spouse inherits the entire interest by the operation of law. Who inherits your real property upon your death also depends on whether you have a will. If you die without a will, it is distributed according to the state laws of inheritance, in a specific order. In other words, the state decides who receives what. One of my client's husband to whom she was married for 19 years, promised to add her name to the title of the house and to get his will. He had a heart attack one morning on the way to work not even a few hundred feet from their house. His procrastination in handling his affairs during his life caused his family not only emotional, but also significant financial and legal difficulties. The little money from the insurance paid for the funeral and other immediate expenses, but the money did not last for long. And she did not have time or opportunity to grieve because of dealing with the costly legal and financial problems related to the transfers of property. A will is important and needs to be carefully and professionally prepared. It can be stand alone, or be a part of a broader estate plan. In any event, it should be practical, common sense and economical, whether it is a plan for you individually or for your business. It's uncomfortable to talk about death, but being practical, responsible and wise will ease the burden of your loved ones when the day comes.