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Legal

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food truck parking tickets
Image Credit: www.nycfoodtrucks.org

Every municipality has its own parking regulations you need to know while you are operating within their city limits. Ignorance of the law is usually no defense against a food truck parking ticket, especially if the police were notified by a restaurant who felt you were parked to close to their storefront.

food truck ticket

Parking tickets in the mobile food industry have become extremely common, partially because they’re easy laws for you to break without being aware of it and also because they make a lot of money for the city. With that said they are the sort of trouble that can be easy to avoid having to pay.

Dealing With Food Truck Parking Tickets

City governments love their parking tickets, so much so that many of them get handed out even if you didn’t break a law. To avoid paying for these tickets the first thing you want to check for is a mistake.

According to parking expert Eric Feder, if anything on the parking ticket is wrong (from the date to the location to the cited violation) you have an easy way out. You can even get out of a ticket if the writing is illegible. If anything is off or wrong on your citation, contest it and you should be able to get it dismissed without much trouble.

If a mistake was made and the citation was real, you’re not necessarily out of luck. Sometimes street markings are confusing or unclear. If that’s the case, photograph your parked food truck, the area around it, and any relevant signs to show as evidence for when you’re in court. You can’t argue ignorance to the law, but if the law can’t be easily understood you can argue that.

You’re also in the clear if your parking violation was the result of an emergency. For example, if your engine overheated and you had to run to a store to get water or antifreeze to cool it off, your receipt can be used as proof to show what you were doing when the ticket was issued.

This is the case for virtually any emergency, so long as you have proof. Technically you could fake an emergency to get out of a parking ticket, but you should really try an honest approach. Most judges are pretty good at detecting lies, so think twice about trying something dishonest.

We hope this article will help a mobile vendor get out of having to pay for a food truck parking ticket they either did not break any law to receive or merely received because the street markings were confusing.

Not only can the fees for these tickets become expensive, but they can get your food truck on the radar of the local ticketing officers who may spend more of their time looking for your truck to give you additional tickets later on. Food truck parking tickets can be the bane of a vendors existence due to the fact that if they want to fight them, it requires that they take time out of the truck to fight them.

Do you have any additional tips on how to beat a food truck parking ticket? If so, please feel free to share in the comment section below, Tweet us, or share them on our Facebook page.

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forming a food truck llc

Are you planning to open a food truck business in the future? After you have developed your concept and menu, you will need to start thinking about spending money to get your mobile food business on the road. To do this, you will need a bank account and a way to protect yourself and your family from the liabilities involved in running a business.

To complete these items on your to-do list, the next step in your culinary adventure must be creating a legal entity. You have a number of options, but the most common in the food truck industry is the limited liability company (LLC).

Forming an LLC is not as hard as most people think. Here are the steps you need to take to make your food truck LLC a legal reality.

  • Choose an available business name that complies with your state’s LLC rules.
  • File formal paperwork, usually called articles of organization, and pay the filing fee.
  • Create an LLC operating agreement, which sets out the rights and responsibilities of the LLC members.
  • Publish a notice of your intent to form an LLC (required in only a few states).
  • Obtain licenses and permits that may be required for your business.

All of the paperwork and procedural steps to start a limited liability company in your state can be done online using a number of different options such as LegalZoom.com .

Choosing a Name for Your Food Truck LLC

The name of your LLC must comply with the rules of your state’s LLC division. (Typically, this office is combined with the corporations division within the secretary of state’s office.) While requirements differ from state to state, generally:

  • cannot be the same as the name of another LLC on file with the LLC office
  • must end with an LLC designator, such as “Limited Liability Company” or “Limited Company,” or an abbreviation of one of these phrases (such as “LLC,” “L.L.C.,” or “Ltd. Liability Co.”), and
  • cannot include certain words prohibited by the state, such as Bank, Insurance, Corporation or City (state rules differ on which words are prohibited).

Your state’s LLC office can tell you how to find out whether your proposed name is available for your use. Often, for a small fee, you can reserve your LLC name for a short period of time until you file your articles of organization.

Besides following your state’s LLC naming rules, you must make sure your name won’t violate another company’s trademark.

Check out Trademarking Your Food Truck for information on trademark law and general advice on picking a successful food truck business name.

Once you’ve found a legal and available name, you don’t usually need to register it with your state. When you file your articles of organization, your business name will be automatically registered.

Filing Articles of Organization

After settling on a name, you must prepare and file “articles of organization” with your state’s LLC filing office. While most states use the term “articles of organization” to refer to the basic document required to create an LLC, some states call it a “certificate of formation” or “certificate of organization.”

Filing Fees

One disadvantage of forming an LLC instead of a partnership or a sole proprietorship is that you’ll have to pay a filing fee when you submit your articles of organization. This can range from $100 – $1,000.

Required Information

Articles of organization are short, simple documents. In fact, you can usually prepare your own in just a few minutes by filling in the blanks and checking the boxes on a form provided by your state’s filing office. Typically, you must provide only your LLC’s name, its address, and sometimes the names of all of the owners — called members. Generally, all of the LLC owners may prepare and sign the articles, or they can appoint just one person to do so.

Registered Agent

You will probably also be required to list the name and address of a person — usually one of the LLC members — who will act as your LLC’s “registered agent,” or “agent for service of process.” Your agent is the person designated to receive legal papers in any future lawsuit involving your LLC.

Creating an LLC Operating Agreement

Even though operating agreements need not be filed with the LLC filing office and are rarely required by state law, it is essential that you create one. In an LLC operating agreement, you set out rules for the ownership and operation of the business (much like a partnership agreement or corporate bylaws). A typical operating agreement includes:

  • members’ percentage interests in the business
  • members’ rights and responsibilities
  • members’ voting power
  • how profits and losses will be allocated
  • how the LLC will be managed
  • rules for holding meetings and taking votes, and
  • “buy-sell” provisions, which determine what happens if a member wants to sell his or her interest, dies, or becomes disabled.

Publication Requirements

In a few states, you must take an additional step to make your company official: You must publish a simple notice in a local newspaper, stating that you intend to form an LLC. You are required to publish the notice several times over a period of weeks and then submit an “affidavit of publication” to the LLC filing office. Your local newspaper should be able to help you with this filing.

Licenses and Permits

After you’ve completed the steps described above, your LLC is official. But before you open your service door for business, you need to obtain the licenses and permits that all new businesses must have to operate. These may include a business license (sometimes also referred to as a “tax registration certificate”), a federal employer identification number, a sellers’ permit, or a zoning permit.

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Twisted_Sister_House_of_HungerA Minnesota food truck operating under the name “Twisted Sister House of Hunger” receives a cease and desist letter from heavy metal band Twisted Sister objecting to the name of a popular food truck. The estate of Frank Sinatra successfully opposes a food truck in Michigan seeking to federally trademark the name “Franks Anatra.” A New York City restaurateur is victorious in using his top selling pork belly steamed bun sandwich known as “Chairman Bao” and forces a food truck in San Francisco to change its name from “The Chairman Bao Truck” to “The Chairman Truck.”

Across the nation, restaurants, food trucks, and their loyal customers are wrapped up in the growing popularity of mobile cuisine. As the growth trend spirals upward, so will the battles in the courtroom and before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board.

According to Richard Myrick, the author of Running a Food Truck for Dummies and the editor-in-chief and founder of Mobile Cuisine Magazine, there are more than 7,000 food trucks traversing the streets of the United States, from small town to bustling metropolis. Markets such as San Francisco and Miami are attracting chefs and entrepreneurs in droves as they take their culinary skills and ideas mobile. As the number of food trucks grows exponentially, the number of filings for federal trademark protection has increased. As of January 2013, there are over 900 live applications or trademark registrations in connection with providing mobile food services. In addition, there are over 300 service marks that specifically reference a food truck in the description of services.

Branding is a critical component to operating a successful food truck operation and savvy entrepreneurs are seeking to secure their names on a federal level.  “We’re intending to be a national brand,” says John Levy, CEO of the AZ Canteen food truck, the brainchild of Andrew Zimmern, the local chef and restaurant critic turned international television host with his popular television shows Bizarre Foods and Bizarre Foods America. The truck was launched last summer. “We are putting a lot of effort, energy and resources into our trademark,” Levy added.

Searching, clearing, and securing a food truck name are top priorities for new food truck operators and brick-and-mortar restaurants looking to bring their menus mobile. The name needs to be checked before the truck hits the street. “If possible, retain the assistance of a trademark lawyer to make sure that the rights to the name are available,” says New York City Food Truck Association President David Weber, who wrote The Food Truck Handbook. Failing to do so often leads to lengthy trademark battles, hefty legal expenses, and costs for rebranding, he adds. “There have been instances in New York where other hospitality businesses on the other side of the country had rights to a name and the New York food truck had to rebrand itself.”

Trademarks and service marks provide exclusive protection of words, phrases, symbols, designs, or a combination of these elements. Obtaining federal trademark protection confers numerous benefits including a legal presumption of ownership, nationwide trademark priority rights, listing in the online databases of the United States Patent and Trademark Office, which is reviewed and cited by Examining Attorneys considering filed trademark applications, and deterring others from using identical or confusingly similar marks.

You can find the entire article by Kenneth Suzan at Food Service News <here>

Follow Kenneth Suzan on Twitter

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downtown-arlingtonARLINGTON, TX - Arlington is considering relaxing its strict rules on how food trucks in the city operate.

City officials say if they allow food trucks to operate more freely, they will likely do so in increments, first designating specific areas that the city thinks can support the trucks, such as around the stadiums, convention center and downtown.

“They can congregate in specific areas that can help with economic development, help with attracting tourists and also visitors to specific areas within the community,” Councilman Robert Rivera said.

Currently, food trucks are not allowed to remain stationary for more than 30 minutes.

Initially, the trucks would likely operate on an event basis, such as a day when a game is at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington or Cowboys Stadium.

“If we have a food truck event on a weekend and people come down and they enjoy the event, well, maybe they’ll come back later and enjoy the other things we have to offer,” said Tony Rutigliano, president and CEO of the Downtown Arlington Management Corp.

Find the entire article by Mola Lenghi at NBCDFW.com <here>

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LANHAM, MD – The case against an Arlington based food truck that didn’t move “far enough” was thrown out Monday.

Seoul-Food-DC-truck

An Arlington County judge officially dismissed the case against Anna Shil, owner of Seoul Food.

She faced charges of violating a provision in Arlington’s law that states a food truck cannot remain stopped for a period longer than 60 minutes. Shil says she moved the truck after 60 minutes but was cited by an officer that felt she didn’t move the truck far enough.

The Arlington provision does not specify how far a vehicle should be moved after the allotted time.

If found guilty, Shil would have faced up to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.

Find the entire article at CBSlocal.com <here>

 

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Twisted Sister made headlines last month with talk that they were planning to take legal action against the owner of a Minneapolis food truck over usage of their band name, but guitarist and a manager Jay Jay French says there really wasn’t much of a choice in taking action.

Jay Jay French Twisted Sister
Source: Getty Images

The band sent a cease-and-desist letter to the owner of the Twisted Sister House of Hunger food truck, and owner Wesley Kaake told local station WCCO-TV that in researching the matter, he discovered that there were at least six other businesses who also received similar letters from the band.

In response to the backlash, French told Blabbermouth, “I get how stories like these appear like David vs. Goliath. I also get how easy it is to take cheap shots at my band because of our former image and the ’80s-era iconography. [But] the fact of the matter is that trademark law doesn’t give me a choice on who and what to defend. The law is very clear: either defend your trademark or lose rights to it.”

The guitarist says over the years he’s had to take action against major companies like Six Flags, Urban Decay, and Harley-Davidson as well as some of the “mom and pop companies.” He adds, “The defense is almost always the same. They first claim that they never heard of the band and then they say that no one would confuse the two anyway. I have won every case. The unique juxtaposition of the words ‘Twisted’ and ‘Sister’ have never ever appeared in print prior to my band’s use of it. This was established in the Six Flags case.”

French concludes, “The name is so unique, like Led Zeppelin, that any use would confuse the marketplace as either the product or service is owned or endorsed by us. Also, if I let one go, that just emboldens someone else with the rationale that ‘you didn’t bother them, so why go after me.’ I have heard this many times before.”

The guitarist also states that he’s not opposed to the food truck using the name for their business so long as they legally license it from the band. He adds, “One hundred percent of the licensing money will go to the OUIF (Ocular Immunology and Uveitis Foundation.”

Twisted Sister Food Truck

Twitter: @houseofhunger
The Twisted Sister House of Hunger. Urban Street Food Specialists by day; Twisted Culinary Artists by night. The original home of Polygamy Sauce.

Find the original article <here>

 

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MINNEAPOLIS, MN - Representatives for the 80’s rock band Twisted Sister are demanding a Minneapolis food truck with a similar name, make a change because the band claims that people might confuse the two business entities.

twisted sister

Cody Allen runs the Twisted Sister House of Hunger food truck. The band Twisted Sister doesn’t like it at all. Lawyers for the band sent Allen a cease and desist order claiming consumer confusion hit the aging rockers in the pocketbook.

While Allen stated that they never refer to themselves as “Twisted Sister”, he feels that there is more to the suit than just the concern of confusion. “We definitely feel the big guys coming after the little guys,” the food truck operator said.

He has yet to make up his mind about backing down under this legal pressure. We will continue to report on this story as it progresses.

UPDATE: According to Wesley Kaake the co-owner of the food truck, the lead singer of the band, Dee Snider sent out a tweet that he is sorry, and that he’s only the lead singer, he’s not a part of management, and has nothing to do with this.

Twisted Sister Food Truck

Twitter: @houseofhunger
The Twisted Sister House of Hunger. Urban Street Food Specialists by day; Twisted Culinary Artists by night. The original home of Polygamy Sauce.

 

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legal-books-gavel-scale

Just as any other business, food trucks must follow federal, state and local laws in order to operate and protect the health of their customers and employees. Here are the top legal responsibilities every mobile food business must adhere to:

  1. Employment and Labor. The Fair Labor Standards Act sets rules and provides guidance to ensure that employers in the United States do not violate the rights of their workers.
  2. Employee Information. Food trucks must verify that their employees are legally allowed to work in the United States. With the increase in illegal immigration crackdowns seen in 2008, this is becoming an even more important issue.
  3. Food Safety. All food service establishments including food trucks must follow local and federal food safety laws in order to minimize the chances of food poisoning outbreaks. The trucks and their commercial kitchens or commissaries are also regularly inspected by the health department to assure Food Code compliance.
  4. Taxes. All food trucks are required to file quarterly and yearly tax returns on payroll, income and other taxable assets to the IRS.
  5. Wages.  Mobile food businesses are required to pay their employees based on current federal minimum wage and tipping laws.
  6. Insurance. There are many risks associated with running a food truck. One way to manage operational risks is through having liability, auto and workers compensation insurance.
  7. Worker Safety. All food truck businesses must provide a safe working environment to reduce the risk of employee injuries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration enforces laws and provides recommendations for ensuring an injury-free commercial kitchen.
  8. Trademarking. Before opening a food truck, the owners must check to make sure that their business’ name is not already registered or trademarked by another restaurant or legal business entity.

 

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Trademarking Your Mobile Food Truck Name

Fledgling food truck owners are often misguided when it comes to selecting names for their future rolling bistros.  Rather than considering competitors in the entire foodservice industry and identifying potential naming issues, they often select their truck names based on their gut feelings.

The mobile food industry is full of creative individuals that are looking to create the next great concept and name.  Therefore, choosing a name that doesn’t infringe on the rights of a third party and isn’t impossible to enforce against other potentially similar names is critical to creating a solid food truck concept capable of growth and defensibility.  In order to make an educated decision as to the name and “trademark” of your food truck, you will need to do some research.

Research before trademarking your mobile food truck name

A search of the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s trademark records is a good start point for your selection of an appropriate name for your food truck since it will help you to identify prior trademarks that have either been granted or denied registration through the USPTO.  If there are any registered trademarks that are identical or might lead to consumer confusion with regard to your proposed name, you might be infringing the trademark of another.  Note that the test for trademark infringement does not require two names to be identical but only confusingly similar to the consumer, so the spelling need not be the same.

During your investigation, you may also notice that certain descriptive terms and geographic designations are less capable of trademark protection.  This is because the underlying policy of the USPTO is not to prevent any business owners from using descriptive terms and names to describe their businesses.  For example, “Los Angeles Tacos” would more than likely be refused a trademark registration in connection with food truck services because “Tacos” is descriptive of the food and “Los Angeles” indicates the location.

This issue is prevalent in the restaurant industry and has spilled into the food truck arena due to the fact that many food service businesses enjoy naming their restaurant or food truck with descriptive terms, such as “Bar and Grill”, “Mediterranean Cuisine”, “Denver Steakhouse”, etc.  Therefore, to increase your chances of obtaining registration through the USPTO (which is a great tool for future expansion as it provides legal protection throughout the entire United States), use fewer descriptive terms and geographic designations or considering a unique alternative such as making up a word.

There are three points you must include in your initial trademark inquiry.

  • Are there any existing trademark registrations that might prohibit you from using your proposed name?
  • Is your proposed food truck name capable of registration with the USPTO so that you are able to enforce and defend it?

There is one more point you must consider.  There may be names and trademarks that are being used by other food trucks or restaurants that have not secured federal trademark registrations.  These food service competitors have acquired common law rights through their use of the name, which is defined by limited geographic regions of use.  With this result, you may not have the priority to enter a region with your proposed name as you may risk infringing such common law trademark rights.

  • Search Google to find businesses that have not registered their trademarks through the USPTO but may still have common law rights in a similar name.

As you can see, making an educated decision for the name of a new mobile food business is not an easy task. It can be filled with complicated details and analysis.  We suggest that unless you are an attorney yourself, the best way to fully understand the implications of choosing an appropriate food truck name is to consult with an attorney who has a firm grasp of US trademark law.

We hope this article has shed some light on US trademark law as it applies to trademarking your mobile food truck name.

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ASHLAND CITY, TN - Food trucks have become a staple on the streets of Nashville, and now they are rolling into Ashland City.

However, as the trucks have started to set up shop in the city, questions have surfaced over their regulation.

Michael Armstrong of the Ashland City building and codes department said city officials met last week with the city’s new planner to get some guidance on the food trucks.

The city recently contracted with the Greater Nashville Regional Council for its planning services.

Armstrong said the city has received some inquiries from food truck operators in Nashville.

“We are trying to get some answers to help us better define some things and to determine how we need to handle this,” he said.

At least one food truck has been selling items around the city at local companies during lunchtime.

Some Ashland City restaurant owners told The Times they want to make sure the food trucks are properly regulated, and the operators are paying any fees or taxes like they do to operate in the city.

Find the entire article from tennessean.com <here>

 

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