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Litigation

Many individuals never expect to be personally involved in litigation, but when a party breaches a contract or you are personally served with a lawsuit, litigation becomes a reality and with that comes a lot of questions and concerns.  

W.H. Fisher LLC is experienced in litigation of various forms, having litigated cases in over two dozen courts throughout Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia.  Our firm handles cases both large and small because to you, the client, no case is small.  We understand that each case is different.  We know that some cases may only require a strongly-worded letter while others may require a more aggressive approach.  You must be aware of all your options and must carefully weigh those options in seeking to obtain the best result possible.  We are here to guide you through this process.

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Business Law & Transactions

Forming and operating a business can involve many legal potholes and roadblocks along the way.  W.H. Fisher LLC advises clients on formation of business entities, managing employees and independent contractors, licensing, and trademark issues.  W.H. Fisher LLC also assists clients in the drafting of corporate filings and various transactions.  

 

Corporate Formation

Today the options are widespread when considering a corporate entity.  If you are starting a new business venture you must consider your options for your corporate entity.  Choosing between a sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability partnership (LLP), limited liability company (LLC), or a corporation (C or S Corp) involves the weighing of various factors and thinking ahead for your business plan.  W.H. Fisher LLC advises clients on the appropriate corporate formation and can draft the appropriate filings to start your company.

 

Trademark Law

Filing your company’s articles of incorporation or articles of organization does not register your company’s trademark.  Protecting your business’s trademark is an entirely different process but equally, if not more, necessary.

Registering your business’s trademarks for its name, its products, its services, its slogans, and other source identifiers helps protect your brand and prevent competitors from freeriding on your business’s goodwill.   If you are looking to start a business, reviewing prior registrations to avoid infringing others’ trademarks is an important step in deciding on your business or product name.  Investing thousands in branding just to get sued for infringement is not a smart use of your startup capital.  W.H. Fisher LLC provides clearance opinions to businesses on potential brand names to help prevent weak or infringing trademarks.

Once your business has chosen a protectable trade name, trademark, or service mark for its company, goods, and/or services, our firm can apply for your trademark registration with the United States Patent and Trademark Office to seek a registration that will protect your brand to the fullest extent possible.  Navigating the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s application process can be confusing and difficult to those not versed in trademark law, including many attorneys.  W.H. Fisher LLC has a robust trademark practice with years of experience registering trademarks for brands in various fields.  

 

Employment Law

Hiring, maintaining, and firing employees can be a scary process for employers with the vast statutory and regulatory restrictions on what an employer can and cannot do.  Many questions arise such as: Is the new hire an employee or an independent contractor? Do I need an employment contract or an offer letter? What does “at will” employment really mean?  Do the minimum wage laws apply to my employees? How do the overtime laws work? Can I hire unpaid interns? Is my noncompetition agreement enforceable?  Do I need a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) and where do I start?

W.H. Fisher LLC advises employers on all of these questions and can draft the appropriate paperwork to ensure you are staffing your business appropriately.  

 

E-Commerce and Copyright Law

An online presence is very important for businesses in the 21st century, but one must be aware of the exposure to liability that such a presence brings.  Terms of service and prrivacy policies seem optional but can help protect your business.  Likewise, with copyright infringement running rampant in the world wide web and a general lack of understanding when it comes to copyright law, it is important to comply with the Digital Millennium Copyright Act and to avoid infringing others’ works of authorship.  W.H. Fisher LLC is experienced in the intersection of e-commerce and intellectual property law and advises website owners on compliance and limited liability.

 

Transactions and Contracts

Although many people are generally trusting of others, a business relationship can turn south in a heartbeat and you want to protect your interests.  A carefully drafted contract can accomplish this and W.H. Fisher LLC has the tools to guide you in protecting your transactions and business relationships.

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Creditors' Rights & Collections

If your company’s accounts receivable have increased month by month or you have obtained a judgment against a debtor but are still struggling to obtain payment, you need a firm that can collect these outstanding debts.  W.H. Fisher LLC’s robust collections practice has collected outstanding accounts and judgments of varying sizes.  W.H. Fisher LLC understands that although your outstanding account may be too small to collect for many law firms, that “small” outstanding account is much larger in your eyes.  W.H. Fisher LLC sets up cost efficient arrangements with clients to make collections a reality.  W.H. Fisher collects across various sectors including healthcare, rentals, fitness, public/private utilities, banking, and private accounts.  

 

Post-judgment Enforcement

When it comes to collections, some law firms obtain the judgment and expect the debtor to pay, not seeking post-judgment remedies.  We understand that obtaining the judgment is only the beginning of the process as collections mostly become successful through post-judgment enforcement.  Through the use of post-judgment remedies such as wage garnishments, judgment liens, mechanics liens, and bank account attachments, our firm pursues your collections needs to the fullest extent.

 

Collecting Across State Lines

Collecting on the Eastern Shore poses problems for some clients due to the needs to constantly collect in multiple states.  Because we are licensed in both Maryland and Virginia, we can easily collect for Virginia clients in Maryland and for Maryland clients in Virginia without having to increase your fees by bringing in outside counsel.  If you have the option by law of suing a debtor in two different states, you want a law firm that is not only able to sue in both states, you want a law firm that knows which state to litigate in given your particular needs and circumstances.

Likewise, if you already have obtained a judgment in Maryland or Virginia and need to domestic that judgment in the other state, W.H. Fisher LLC can handle every step of that process in-house and assist you in the collections process.   

 

Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA)

With years of experience in collections, W.H. Fisher LLC understands and adheres to the broad and sweeping reach of the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act (FDCPA) and advises clients on the same.  If you are collecting a debt for another, you likely fall into the broad category of “debt collector” and are subject to the restrictions and penalties of the FDCPA.  If the risks of violating the FDCPA are not worth your collections efforts, contact us today.

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Traffic Law

Traffic citations may seem minor, but convictions can result in higher insurance rates, increased penalties on future citations, suspension of your license, and a misdemeanor conviction on your criminal record.  W.H. Fisher LLC represents clients for traffic infractions in both Maryland and Virginia.

Reckless Driving on the Eastern Shore of Virginia

Many pass through the Eastern Shore of Virginia (Accomack County, Northampton County, & the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel) in route to their destination up and down the east coast and don’t realize the stiff penalties Virginia imposes on traffic violations.  When travelling via Route 13 it is easy for drivers to speed due to the frequent changes in speed limits.  From the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel to the Maryland-Virginia line south of Pocomoke, the speed limit fluctuates from 55 miles per hour to 45 miles per hour multiple times and many drivers are passing through from other states unaware of these fluctuations in towns such as New Church, Oak Hall, Temperanceville, Mappsville, Onley, Melfa, Painter, and Exmore.  Many drivers traveling at 65 miles per hour in the 55 miles per hour zone fail to notice the speed limit drop to 45 miles per hour and drive 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, which is considered reckless under Virginia Code section 46.2-862(i).  This is considered a criminal violation and will go on your criminal record for life if you are convicted.   

If you have been cited for reckless driving in Virginia, not only is your appearance required in court, you risk a misdemeanor on your criminal record (for life) which can prevent you from being hired and can cause you to be fired, among many other serious complications.  If you live hundreds of miles away, it may be costly to take time off work and to travel to court.  W.H. Fisher LLC appears in courts on the Eastern Shore of Virginia on a regular basis and can appear on your behalf to negotiate a lesser penalty for your traffic citation.  

For more on reckless driving in Virginia, please see our detailed post in the News & Updates section.

Why Hire an Attorney?

For any charge that carries criminal penalties it is smart to hire an attorney.  Not only does the attorney know the law and the penalties, an attorney knows the procedural rules and the local unwritten rules of the courthouse.  

If you are from afar, it is important to understand that some courts allow drivers to forego appearing in court by hiring a lawyer to make an appearance on their behalf.  This is beneficial to those travelling from out-of-state who wish to enter a plea in hopes the judge will reduce their sentence.  

Please contact the firm with any questions regarding traffic citations.

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Intellectual Property Law

Trademark Clearance Opinions

Protecting your business’s intangible assets can be more important than protecting its tangible assets. Registering your business’s trademarks for its name, its products, its services, and other source identifiers helps protect your brand and prevent competitors from freeriding on your business’s goodwill.   If you are looking to start a business, reviewing prior registrations to avoid infringing others’ trademarks is an important step in deciding on your business or product name.  Investing thousands in branding just to get sued for infringement is not a smart use of your startup capital.  W.H. Fisher LLC provides clearance opinions to businesses on potential brand names to help prevent weak or infringing trademarks.

Trademark Registration

Whether you are starting a business or have been operating your business for 50 years, registering your business’s trademark is important.  Navigating the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s application process can be confusing and difficult to those not versed in trademark law.  W.H. Fisher LLC has a robust trademark practice with years of experience registering trademarks for brands in various fields.

Trademark Litigation

Whether a competitor has completely knocked off your brand or has cherry picked aspects of your brand to freeride off your goodwill, such activity can dilute your brand and deteriorate your bottom line.  It is important to protect your brand through effective enforcement.  W.H. Fisher LLC can help you seek an injunction to prevent the continuation of infringing activities and damages to make your business whole.

Copyright Law

If you are involved in any creative industry, whether as a musician, artist, graphic designer, filmmaker or photographer, it is not only important to know how to protect your work but to know how to avoid infringing the works of others.  In today’s digital world, W.H. Fisher LLC’s knowledge and experience with modern technology and file sharing allows the firm to provide effective and up-to-date copyright advice.  W.H. Fisher LLC advises clients on copyright protection, appropriate licensing, fair use, employment/contractor agreements, and using the appropriate DMCA measures.  W.H. Fisher LLC also drafts, reviews, and revises services agreements, independent contractor agreements, and licensing agreements to protect client interests.

Trade Secrets

Many businesses’ competitive advantages stem from secret formulas, secret recipes, proprietary operating procedures, and other proprietary information that only retains its value if kept secret.  Unfortunately, to effectively run a business, these secrets must be disseminated to employees and contractors.  To prevent secrets from being leaked and to maintain trade secret protection, it is important to employ appropriate safeguards and execute effective nondisclosure agreements that will be enforced by the courts.  With the recent implantation of the Defend Trade Secrets Act in 2016, it is important to understand the overlapping statutory structure of state and federal trade secret law, and to implement the appropriate procedures to allow your business to avail itself of the new federal protections in the modern digital environment.  W.H. Fisher LLC advises business and drafts agreements to help business protect their proprietary information and preserve their ability to enforce those secrets.

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Landlord/Tenant Law

W.H. Fisher LLC represents clients for various matters that arise in the landlord/tenant relationship, both residential and commercial.  Before the landlord/tenant relationship begins, W.H. Fisher LLC advises clients on the various laws that dictate the relationship. The firm also drafts residential and commercial leases that are tailored to clients’ needs.  With vast litigation experience, W.H. Fisher LLC is aware of the pitfalls that arise with “form” leases landlords find on the internet which contradict state law and prevent full enforcement of available rights. Having this first-hand knowledge allows our firm to draft leases that contain the necessary and appropriate provisions for any given landlord/tenant relationship.  

The firm represents clients in landlord/tenant court for eviction proceedings but also uses its years of collections experience to collect rent and damages in district court when a tenant owes after quitting possession of the premises.  

Please contact the firm if you have any landlord/tenant needs, both residential and commercial.   

 

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Drone Law

Unmanned aerial vehicles (“UAVs”), colloquially known as “drones” have become commonplace in the national airspace over past decade.  With technology improving and prices decreasing, drones are more popular than ever for the average consumer. Many small business have found clever uses for drones, especially in conjunction with the aerial views drone cameras provide.  

Before any commercial drone operator takes flight, it must consider the local, state, and federal regulatory framework that dictates when, where, and how you can fly your drone.  One must also consider how the common law and age old statutes can prevent you from flying your drone unhindered. At W.H. Fisher LLC, we are keeping abreast of the increasing regulations and advise clients on proper drone practice under the law.  Contact us if you have any drone law needs.

 

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Vehicle Overweight Violations

Truck drivers drive approximately 140 billion miles per year.  Each of those miles are heavily regulated, requiring truck drivers to stop at weigh stations across the country to ensure those trucks are not over weight.  

In Maryland and Virginia, these weigh stations are plentiful.  With Route 13 being a major thoroughfare through the Eastern Shore, dissecting the Delmarva Peninsula, trucks passing from Virginia to Maryland to Delaware must pass through the weigh stations in New Church, Virginia and Delmar, Maryland, only 30 miles apart from each other.

Fines levied at weigh stations can be hefty and the state is happy to receive your payment upon violation, but you may not be liable.  There are many requirements for weigh operators to accurately cite you for an overweight, and if a weigh operator fails to abide by one of the requirements, you could be looking at a severely reduced fine or a dismissal of the overweight charges.

Before paying your fine for a vehicle overweight citation, contact us to discuss your case, but do so soon, as the state sets strict deadlines for noting your intention to contest your citation.