Another IRS Tax Tips, this time on using social media for help from them.


It’s Easy to Get Tax Help through IRS Social Media

There are many ways to get help from the IRS with social media. If you have a smartphone, we have a free app with many uses. If you like YouTube, we have lots of videos to help you file. If you’re on Twitter, follow the IRS for the latest tax news and information. Here are some easy ways to get what you need from the IRS through social media:

  • IRS2Go.  Use this free mobile app to check your refund status, pay your tax, watch IRS YouTube videos and get IRS Tax Tips via email. You can download the app free from the Google Play Store for Android devices, or from the Apple App Store for Apple devices. IRS2Go is available in both English and Spanish.
  • YouTube.  The IRS offers dozens of video tax tips on a variety of topics. You can view them in English, Spanish or American Sign Language.
  • Twitter.  Get tax-related announcements and tips from @IRSnews.@IRStaxpros tweets news and guidance for tax professionals. Tweets from @IRSenEspanol have news and information in Spanish. The Taxpayer Advocate Service sends tweets from @YourVoiceAtIRS.@RecruitmentIRS provides updates for job seekers.
  • Tumblr.  Follow the IRS on Tumblr to access IRS tax tips, videos and podcasts. You can access Tumblr from your smartphone, tablet or computer.
  • Facebook.  The IRS Facebook pages provide news and information for taxpayers and tax return preparers. You can also connect with theTaxpayer Advocate Service.
  • Subscribe to IRS Tax Tips.  Get free tax filing tips via e-mail inEnglish or Spanish.  For the latest word on taxes from the IRS, check out our e-news subscriptions.

Protecting your privacy is our top priority. The IRS uses social media to share public information, not to answer personal tax or account questions. You should never post your Social Security number or any other personal information on social media sites.

Each and every taxpayer has a set of fundamental rights they should be aware of when dealing with the IRS. These are your Taxpayer Bill of Rights. Explore your rights and our obligations to protect them on

IRS YouTube Videos:

IRS Podcasts:

Need Help Boosting Your Social Media Posts? Check Out Datarank

If you are posting to social media to boost your business, it is important to know what days of the week get the most views and attention to your posts. This is dependent on the social media platform that you use. Datarank is a company that can help you decide what day to post and what platform to choose. In their recent blog post, Discover the Best Times to Post on Social Media, by using its analytic tools the folks at Datarank have found that posting to Facebook on Thursday and Friday get the most attention, while posting to LinkedIn in the middle of the week, Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday will get that attention you are looking for. Twitter gets most views Monday – Thursday. But the research goes beyond just the day of the week and the platform, it also shows that the kind of post you make, and the demographics of your audience can be important factors. For a more in-depth look at what Datarank can help you learn about your social media postings, check them out!

Datarank can turn social insight into decisions that grow sales!

By Debby Winters

Premature Disclosures of Inventions on Social Media Websites

By Debby Winters

As social media becomes increasingly more popular, it is essential that companies and inventors avoid inadvertent disclosures of their inventions on social media networks and the company’s website. I have a client who realized this a bit too late. The company posted a Youtube video on the invention to spark interest and promptly filed a provisional patent application. However, we were not ready to file the utility application within the years’ time and had to file a new provisional patent application. This means more than one year lapsed between posting the video and the subsequent provisional patent application filing. We are now working to find a solution to this problem.

Because social media websites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, have changed the manner that businesses communicate and market their products and innovations, we must adapt in our thinking about public disclosures.  Although these tools may be beneficial by creating market “buzz” for new products through rapid information sharing, they may also be detrimental to a company’s patenting practices for the same reason.  If disclosures of up and coming products are made on social media websites without the company first filing for patent protection, and the disclosures are then copied by a second party who then files an application based on the company’s social media disclosures, before the company does, then the first-to-file law could bar the company from patenting the invention, whereas the second party could then obtain patent rights to the invention disclosed on the social media site.

While there are no cases deciding whether Youtube videos constituting a public disclosure, US Patent and Trademark Office Examiner training videos suggest that the provision covering this includes “YouTube videos, Website, and other on-line material”.  Accordingly, if an inventor discusses a new invention on a social media website or even on the company’s website, and that invention is copied by a second person (the deriver), who then files a patent application based on that invention disclosed on the web, the original inventor may lose the rights to any subsequent patent that is issued based on the deriver’s filed application.

However, all may not be lost for the original inventor.  The rights of the original inventor may be protected thanks to an exception.  The exception is what we term the one year rule. This rule gives the inventor one year from the disclosure to file a US application. A glaring issue with the “exception” is what exactly constitutes a “disclosure.”  For example, if the company simply makes a broad announcement of the invention, without any detailed discussions or descriptions, would that “disclosure” be sufficient to allow one of ordinary skill in the art to develop that invention?  In the current environment where much innovation and improvement is centered on facilitating a user’s interface with an electronic device, it is possible that disclosure of minor contemplated ‘tweaks’ to an interface would be sufficient disclosure to enable one skilled in the art to craft and file a complete patent application on the improvement.  Some of the lack of clarity lies in the fact that the granting clause refers to “descriptions” of the invention, whereas the exceptions conferring a grace period refer to “disclosures.”    Until these questions are answered by inevitable litigation proceedings, companies would be wise to revisit their social media and website policies and ensure their IP rights remain protected from the outset.

Perhaps for information that is for an “up and coming” product, companies or individuals can request additional information before such information will be made available on the web.  Some safeguards should be in place to take advantage of the marketing benefits of web disclosure while preventing a deemed public disclosure. Without any precautions, if an inventor or unauthorized employee of a company inadvertently discloses an invention on social media networks, and does not file an application based on that disclosure within a year, a second inventor, or deriver, who obtains that disclosure may file an application based on that disclosure, or may modify the disclosure and file an application based on the modified disclosure.  The filed application would then be considered prior art against a subsequent application filed by the original inventor. Or if the original inventor does not file within one year of the inadvertent disclosure, the original inventor may lose all of its rights.

Inventors and companies ideally should file patent applications prior to making any disclosures on social media websites or on the company’s website.  This protects both U.S. patent rights and patent rights in foreign jurisdictions.  At a minimum, a detailed and enabling provisional application should be filed outlining the basic aspects of the invention, and should be followed up by filing a non-provisional application within a year of the filing of the provisional application.  This is particularly important in instances where the company intends to obtain patent protection in foreign jurisdictions.

It is imperative that companies regularly and carefully examine their technology portfolios and ascertain the importance of each invention.  Detailed provisional applications should be filed quickly for inventions that are of great importance to the company, and applications for which foreign patent protection would be sought.  The company has to ensure that a non-provisional application is filed at the U.S.P.T.O. within one-year of the provisional application.

For less important inventions, and for inventions that will not be pursued in foreign jurisdictions, disclosures may be made as a defensive maneuver.  In other words, a company may decide to disclose particular inventions to preempt protection of a similar invention by a competing company.

Companies should also ensure that employees and investors are aware of the detrimental effects that may result from the inadvertent disclosures of company innovations on social media networks.  In addition to having their employees and investors sign confidentially agreements, extra vigilance should be taken for casual disclosures via social media, the privacy of which cannot be guaranteed.


What does cancellation of the Washinton Redskins trademark mean?

By Debby Winters

In the case Blackhorse v. Pro Football, Inc. (TTAB Cancellation No. 92046185) the US PTO cancelled the registration of the following 6 trademarks owned by the football team the Washington Redskins:

(1) THE REDSKINS & Design, Reg. No. 0987127 issued in 1972

(2) THE REDSKINS (Stylized), Reg. No. 0836122 issued in 1967

(3) WASHINGTON REDSKINS & Design, Reg. No. 0986668 issued in 1974

(4) WASHINGTON REDSKINS, Reg. No. 0978824 issued in 1974

(5) REDSKINS, Reg. No. 1085092 issued in 1978

(6) REDSKINETTES, Reg. No. 1606810 issued in 1990.

The marks, each containing the word “Redskin”, were registered between 1967 and 1990 and cover entertainment services such as presentations of professional football contests and/or cheerleading performances. Although canceled by the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board (TTAB). The registrations will remain in force pending the football team’s planned appeal. The reason for cancellation has been covered extensively so other than saying it is because the marks have been referred to as disparaging, I’m going to focus on what this means as far as trademark law is concerned.

Federal trademark law does not permit registration of trademarks that “may disparage” individuals or groups or “bring them into contempt or disrepute.” However, the effect of the cancellation at this point is largely symbolic since the ruling cannot stop the team from selling T-shirts, beer glasses and license-plate holders with the moniker or keep the team from trying to defend itself against others who try to profit from the logo. And the trademark registrations will remain effective during any appeal process.

It should be noted that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has refused to register trademarks containing the word “Redskins” about a dozen times since 1992 on the grounds that the term may disparage Native Americans. Among the rejected: Redskins Fanatics, Redskin Pigskins and Washington Redskins Cheerleaders. The latest to be turned down was “Redskins Hog Rinds,” which was submitted on behalf of a Capitol Heights, Md., man. In a letter from the agency in December, an examining attorney wrote that it was denied because it contained “a derogatory slang term.” However, the six at issue were issued before the controversy over the name began.

The team is expected to appeal the decision and even if it loses the appeal, the team can maintain “common law” rights to the name, allowing it to make a case against any individual or organization looking to profit from it. The TTAB majority made clear, the decision affects only the right to register, but not the right to use the REDSKINS marks. The Redskins have already announced that they will continue to use the name.

If the registrations ultimately were cancelled, the team’s trademark enforcement efforts would be somewhat hampered since a federal registration is a prerequisite to obtaining enhanced remedies for counterfeiting. It is also required in order to record trademark rights with U.S. Customs, which assists in impeding the importation of infringing goods. Registrations are also important in challenging infringing uses in social media like Facebook and Twitter, and to challenge registrations of infringing domain names. It would also not be able to prevent the use on television. Frequent watchers of The Colbert Report know that when the Superbowl was taking place the show was not allowed to use the trademarked name and instead referred all remarks to the “Superb owl” to avoid trademark infringement.

Further, without a registration, the team could not use the familiar trademark registration notice symbol ®. Thus despite the team’s available legal remedies under other state and federal laws, in view of the potential perception that the team had lost all of its trademark rights, it is possible that infringing goods would proliferate and licensing revenues could be affected.

Any final outcome is likely years away and public opinion now, rather than any legal arguments, may in the end play a greater role in resolving this dispute.


To Blog Or Not To Blog…

By Debby Winters

If you own a business and are thinking about whether you should start a blog or just stick with posting on social media,
consider the advantages of doing both. Blogging provides your business an opportunity to share meaningful knowledge with potential clients and customers. This in turn let’s them like and trust you. And it is a good way to get these potentials to know you because once they know, like and trust you and your company, the sale isn’t too far behind. The two combined are great for a marketing push.

People have to subscribe to your blog. This takes time, but by pushing educational blog content out via social media, you introduce your thought leadership to an entirely new audience of perfectly targeted prospects. Show your brilliance about the business through your blog.

Consider these 4 ideas when combing your blog with your social media marketing:

  1. Build your reach. Make a concerted effort to grow your social media numbers. These numbers include total Facebook friends, LinkedIn followers, Twitter followers, Google + followers and other social sites that pertain to your business. Actively work to grow them. This includes making sure those profile pages are built out and have educational content on them for visitors to see, read and share. Consider creating a contest. One idea is to see who can get the most new followers on your company’s LinkedIn page.
  2. Make the commitment. Blogging and building your social media reach requires a true commitment to the cause. Set time aside each day, every few days, or at least once a month to write.
  3. Be creative. Blogging can and should be fun. Use pictures, infographics, charts, graphs and anything that will catch the eye of a potential reader. And try to keep it under 800 words. That gives you enough room to make a point without losing interest.
  4. Blogging will make you better. There is, without a doubt, something incredibly remarkable about your company. Use that to help generate content that your clients or customers want to know about. Blogs are meant to inform and educate clients and customers on answers they don’t have and things they want to know about.

Just in case you were wondering, this blog has 377



Careless Social Media Use May Raise Risk of Identity Fraud

This one is too good not to re-post so for the first time since I started this blog I am going to re-post what someone else wrote rather than writing my own blog…enjoy! AND check out the original blog at:

Careless Social Media Use May Raise Risk of Identity Fraud

Information provided on social networking sites.Information provided on social networking sites.

Updated 2:08 p.m. / To add Facebook comment.

Users of social media who don’t restrict the information they share online have a higher risk of identity fraud, a new report from Javelin Strategy & Research finds.

The incidence of identity fraud in 2011 rose to about 5 percent of the adult United States population, up from roughly 4 percent the year before, the report found. But among Facebook users with public profiles, the rate was 7.5 percent, while users who accept “friend” requests from strangers had an even higher rate, of nearly 9 percent.

The study defined a “public” profile as one that allows strangers to see personal information, including profiles open to “friends of friends.” Roughly a quarter of Facebook users have public profiles, the study found.

Fred Wolens, a spokesman for Facebook, dismissed the survey’s findings, saying it doesn’t reveal any higher risk of fraud among Facebook users because the percentages reported were within the survey’s stated margin of error.  “This survey doesn’t prove anything,” he said.

He added that it is “common sense” that if you post about your dog using its name on Facebook, you probably shouldn’t be using your dog’s name as any sort of password.

While there’s no direct “causation” between using social media and identity fraud, the report found, the behavior of those participating is probably a factor. Information revealed in public profiles, including your full date of birth or your mother’s maiden name or the name of your pet, is valuable to thieves because companies often use such information to verify your identity online. Nearly half of those with public Facebook profiles revealed their full birth date, including the year, compared with about a third of those with private profiles, the report found.

“The proper use of privacy settings on social network profiles is essential to reconcile the connectivity of social media with the protection of personal information,” the report said.

A probable factor in the rise in identity theft in 2011, the report found, was an increase in reported data breaches, like those at Sony PlayStation and Epsilon. Fifteen percent of Americans were notified that their information was lost in a data breach in 2011, and those notified of a data breach are almost 10 times more likely to be an identity fraud victim than someone who wasn’t notified, Javelin found. But, the report found, the dollar amount of the typical fraud incident is declining. “Although fraud is more pervasive,” the report said, “it is less severe.”

Smartphone users, too, face a higher risk, the report found, with nearly 7 percent of users experiencing fraud in 2011. Smartphone users’ generally higher incomes may contribute to their higher risk, but behavioral factors may also play a role, the report found. For instance, a third of smartphone users store personal information on their phones, but only 16 percent have installed software that allows them to remotely wipe the device if it is lost or stolen.

The report is based on survey conducted in October of 5,022 adults recruited by the survey firm Knowledge Networks, which uses address-based online sampling. The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 2 percentage points. (For a subset of questions asked of fraud victims, the margin of sampling error is 3 percent.)

What steps do you take to guard your privacy when using social media?