People often confuse trademarks, patents, and copyrights. Together, they form what is generally referred to as “intellectual property” or “IP”, but they protect different aspects of your business, and are governed by different rules.

A trademark protects brand names and logos on goods and services, such as brand names, slogans, and logos. A copyright protects original artistic or literally works, such as novels, songs, films, software, and architecture. And lastly, a patent protects inventions, such as machines, industrial processes, and chemical compositions. Sometimes you need all three, sometimes you only need one.

Your specific needs vary on a case-by-case basis. For example, if a pharmaceutical company released a new drug, it may apply for a patent on the chemical process of the medicine, a trademark for the brand name, and a copyright for the advertisement of the medicine.

They also have different durations. A patent is limited in its duration, design patents last 15 years if filed on or after May 13, 2015 and 14 years if filed before then. Utility and...


As we all know, everyday tasks have become more difficult during the Coronavirus Pandemi The Courts and the legislature of North Carolina have made temporary and emergency changes to the laws to allow for the legal process to move forward and for necessary documents to be signed.

Estate and Court Filings. Until August 1, 2020, notarization is waived for a document which is required to be filed with a court. Instead, an affirmation may be signed to replace the notary. To implement this process, the individual signs the document. Underneath the signature, the following statement is added:

“I affirm, under the penalties for perjury, that the foregoing representations are true.”

This statement is then dated and signed. This rule applies only to court filings and not to documents that are required to be recorded or to a Last Will & Testament.

Notarization Changes. For non-court filings that require a notary (including all recorded documents, Last...


We find ourselves living in scary and uncertain times. One of the best gifts you can give to yourself and to your family during this time is the peace of mind in knowing that your health care decisions will be made appropriately if you cannot make them for yourself.

A Health Care Power of Attorney allows you to appoint a primary person and any number of backups to make health care decisions when you cannot. If you do not have a Health Care Power of Attorney, the North Carolina Statutes dictate who can make the decisions. A spouse is first; however, if there is no spouse, then a majority of the nearest living relatives make the decisions. This group include parents and adult children. Times of crisis breed disagreement, and it can be very stressful for the family and for the health care facility when quick decisions have to be made and there is no consensus. Because a Health Care Power of Attorney requires witnessing by two individuals who are not related and who are not employees of the health care facility where you are currently a patient, as well as notarization, it...


While the CARES Act is about to be voted on by the House today, Employers should note a few key provisions relating to the payroll continuation forgivable loan program, at least as the bill now stands:

  1. The “covered period” is March 1 through June 30, 2020. That’s the time over which the payroll continuation is supposed to occur, even if the loans are funded late in that period or after.
  2. Loan forgiveness is reduced by the reduction in FTE head count in the covered period vs. March 1 – June 30, 2019.
  3. So, if average monthly FTE in March 1 – June 30 2019 was 100 and average monthly FTE in the covered period ends up being 35, you only get 35% loan forgiveness.
  4. The CARES Act also reduces loan forgiveness dollar for dollar with any reduction in compensation of more than 25% for each employee making less than $100,000 in 2019 (or ~1/3 of that in March 1 – June 30, 2019).
  5. So, if an Employee made $18,000 in March 1 – June 30, 2019, and makes $10,000 in the covered period, $3,500 is not forgivable.
  6. Forgiveness does not apply to paid...

Now that COVID-19 has arrived in Catawba County, we wanted to update our clients on legal changes made in response to the health care situation and highlight a few points.

Expanded Unemployment

Governor Cooper has expanded unemployment eligibility in North Carolina to include layoffs and reduced hours resulting from the COVID-19 outbreak. The scope of this expanded coverage is not entirely clear. As of now, the North Carolina Division of Employment Security (NCDES) says an affected employee has to apply to find out if she is covered. Since the benefits are in response to an unprecedented situation, our hope and expectation is that benefits will be allowed in most situations where the Employee and Employer agree the layoff or reduced hours are as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

The most important thing for employers to know is that these unemployment claims are non-charging – meaning they don’t affect your experience rating.

Federal Response

President Trump signed the Families First Coronavirus...


Certain types of assets routinely cause issues in estate planning and administration. The issues and suggested solutions are detailed below:

  1. Mobile Homes. Frequently, clients transfer mobile homes by executing a Bill of Sale rather than transferring the Certificate of Title for the mobile home. Unless a mobile home has been legally affixed to the real estate through an affixation process with the Register of Deeds, the mobile home remains personal property and has a Certificate of Title through DMV. Failure to transfer the Certificate of Title to a new owner creates title problems which are often expensive to correct.
  2. Cemetery Plots. In estate administration, excess cemetery plots are often ignored, thereby creating a problem for future generations. Any excess cemetery plots should be identified and transferred to heirs or sold as a part of the estate administration process. City cemeteries often have extra requirements for compliance, including approval of transfers by the City Council.
  3. ...

Congress has passed the Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act (“SECURE ACT”), effective as of January 1, 2020. The SECURE Act contains some major changes for distributions relating to retirement accounts, including the following:

  • Stretch payments. In general, a spouse beneficiary can continue to roll over the proceeds from an IRA or 401(k) owned by a deceased account holder into his or her own IRA account and withdraw the funds over his or her lifetime. Before the change in the law, children and other beneficiaries could transfer IRA funds of which they were the beneficiary to an inherited IRA and continue to stretch the payments out over the lifetime of the beneficiary. Now, those individuals must withdraw the entire account within ten (10) years. Exceptions apply for minor children (until they reach the age of majority), disabled individuals, chronically-ill individuals, or individuals who are not more than ten years younger than the deceased.
  • Contributions. The SECURE Act repeals the maximum age for...

Estate Planning does not end with signing the documents. The following tips will help your family in the event of death or emergency:

  1. Document Distribution - Make sure you have distributed copies of your Durable Power of Attorney, Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will, and HIPAA Authorizations to anyone named in the documents. In addition, your physician should have a copy of your Health Care Power of Attorney, Living Will, and HIPAA Authorization. Keeping a copy of your health care documents in the glove box of your vehicle, as well as making an “emergency packet” to take to the hospital on short notice is advisable.
  2. Access to Documents - Do not circulate copies of Wills and/or Trusts; however, let your first successor Executor and/or Trustee know where the originals of these documents are kept. The Clerk of Court will not probate a photocopy of a Will unless a lawyer files a petition and presents certain evidence. If you keep the documents in a safe deposit box, make sure that your first successor Executor and/or...

So you got the job! Congratulations on receiving your offer letter and employment contract — but don’t sign it too quickly. As tedious as it may feel to read through the fine print after getting through the recruitment process, it’s very important to make sure that you actually understand your work agreement.

If you’re just starting your career, or if you’ve never had any problems with employment contracts in the past, then reading it may feel unnecessary or like a waste of your time. However, even if you think that you and your prospective employer are on the same page, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain by checking the contract thoroughly. In the best case scenario, there are no problems and you never have to look at it again. If there are problems, then you can spot red flags and either renegotiate the contract or decide not to accept their offer.

Today, the team behind the contract attorneys at Patrick Harper & Dixon is going over three things you need to check before accepting your offer letter. Read on to find out more, and feel free to...


Although planning in advance for facility care is best, an unanticipated health event may necessitate instant action to protect assets. Some techniques which may work are set forth below:

Purchasing a one-percent (1%) interest in the homesite or other real property as joint tenants with right of survivorship. If a child purchases a one-percent interest, no gift has occurred and no Medicaid transfer sanction results. The parent owns 99% of the real estate, and the child owns 1%. The 99% interest bypasses the probate estate of the parent at death, thereby avoiding the Medicaid estate recovery claim. This technique may offer a last resort method to protect the home. The mechanics should be thoroughly discussed with your attorney.

Utilizing the Community Spouse Resource Allowance (CSRA) and allowable spenddown. The spouse who is at home can retain one-half of the countable assets, up to $126,420.00. The remaining amount must be spent down to the $2,000.00 level for the facility spouse to qualify for Medicaid. To spend down, the...


Estate planning is an important legal process for every adult, regardless of age or net worth. While it accomplishes the task of planning for the disposition of your assets, the real goal of estate planning is achieved through the peace of mind it brings to you and your family. Although each estate plan is as unique as the circumstances of the individual or family for whom it is drafted, there are five basic documents which serve as the foundation to each plan.

Last Will And Testament

A Last Will and Testament is generally the first step in creating an estate plan. It accomplishes three major goals.

First, the Will directs how your real estate, personal property, and financial assets will be distributed after your death. Because certain types of asset titling, beneficiary designations, and transfer/pay on death designations actually supersede the terms of your Will, it is important to coordinate each of these with the Will to ensure your assets flow in the manner intended.

If you die without a Will, state intestacy laws determine who...


Proper Planning can reduce the difficulty of handling an estate. Avoid these mistakes to make the estate process easier:

1. Not adding beneficiary designations to assets, including bank accounts.

Assets which pass by beneficiary designation in North Carolina are not subject to probate or probate tax. Even bank accounts can bear a beneficiary designation. Adding a designation to an account avoids probate and probate tax. Make sure contingent beneficiary designations are updated as well.

2. Naming the estate as the beneficiary of any tax deferred funds.

Retirement accounts are subject to strict payout provisions if the estate is named as a beneficiary. It can be a tax disaster. Don’t do it.

3. Putting the names of both spouses on a vehicle without survivorship.

Vehicles do not pass by right of survivorship automatically. If both spouses are on the name of the vehicle, the surviving spouse may have to administer an estate when he or she would not otherwise have had to do so in order to pass the...


Handling an estate can be a difficult task. Fortunately, North Carolina offers some “short forms” of estate administration to make the process easier and avoid a full administration:

1. DMV Form MVR-317. If a vehicle is the only asset owned by the deceased, then a Form MVR-317 can be used to pass title.

2. Affidavit of Collection. If the personal property passing through an estate equals $30,000.00 with a surviving spouse as the sole heir, or $20,000.00 where there are other heirs, then an individual can perform an Affidavit of Collection. This process does not involve a notice to creditors, but it also does not cut off creditors’ claims.

3. Summary Administration. Where the surviving spouse is the only heir, any assets which pass through probate can be transferred by a Summary Administration Form. The spouse must sign a statement indicating that the spouse is accepting all liabilities which may be

incurred by the estate.

4. Year’s Allowance. North Carolina law allows a surviving spouse to claim...


What is “intellectual property?” The World Intellectual Property Organization defines it as “creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names, and images used in commerce” that can be legally protected by copyrights, trademarks, and patents.

The legal protections that defend intellectual property are crucial to fostering an environment where creativity and innovation can flourish, but it can be easy to confuse copyrights, trademarks, and patents. Though they share a similar purpose, they differ widely in their methods of attainment and types and durations of protection granted.

Today, in the last of our three-part series covering the three types of intellectual property protection, our small business lawyers will provide an overview of patents. To learn more about intellectual property and business law, read parts one (What is a Copyright?) and two (...


Intellectual property law is crucial to protecting the creative works and inventions that drive entertainment and innovation, but it can be easy to confuse the terms associated with this branch of law. Copyrights, trademarks, and patents, though similar in purpose, offer very different types of protections, and it is important to understand the distinctions between each.

Today, in the second part of our three-part series covering common intellectual property questions, our business attorneys at Patrick Harper & Dixon, LLC will go over the second type of intellectual property protection: trademark. To learn more, read parts one (What is a Copyright?) and three (What is a Patent?) of this series, or contact our corporate lawyers today.

What Is A Trademark?

A trademark is a mark (it can be a word, phrase, symbol, or design) that identifies and distinguishes the source of a good or goods....


Intellectual property law is the branch of law pertaining to the legal rights to creative works and inventions. Three of the most common (and most commonly misunderstood) types of intellectual property are copyrights, trademarks, and patents. It’s easy to be confused by these terms, since they all seem to serve similar purposes, but copyrights, trademarks, and patents are very different types of protections. From the kinds of creative works they protect, to the process by which they are obtained, to the duration of the protection they offer, it’s important to understand the differences between these three distinct forms of intellectual property.

Today, in the first of a three-part series addressing common intellectual property questions, our corporate lawyers at Patrick Harper & Dixon, LLC will take a closer look at the first kind of intellectual property protection: copyright. To learn more, read parts two (What is a Trademark?) and three (What is a Patent?) of this...


As the average life expectancy continues to rise, so does the need for the branch of law known as elder law. This area of law focuses on protecting and advocating for the aging and elderly along with their caretakers and loved ones. It covers a wide range of legal services from basic financial management to addressing elder abuse and neglect. A skilled elder law attorney will be able to assist you with navigating the unique challenges facing the aging members of our population.

At Patrick Harper & Dixon, LLP, we can provide that guidance. Our expert team of attorneys is ready and willing to help. If you have any questions about elder law, or are in need of an elder law attorney yourself, then contact us now. We proudly serve Hickory, NC and the surrounding area. Otherwise, read on to see what a qualified elder law attorney can do for you:

The planning aspect of elder law which involves planning focuses on multiple components:.



Eloise D. Bradshaw, a partner with Patrick Harper & Dixon LLP, has been elected Chair of the Real Property Section of the North Carolina Bar Association. The Real Property Section has over 2,000 members and consists of attorneys and paralegals who practice or work in the residential, commercial or industrial real estate areas. As Chair, Bradshaw will oversee the work of multiple committees, including continuing legal education, legislative review and pro bono activities. Prior to assuming the duties of Chair, Bradshaw previously served as Vice Chair and a member of the Council.

Bradshaw is a member of the Catawba County and American Bar associations and has been active in the local community, having served as Chair of the Catawba County Chamber of Commerce and the Catawba County Economic Development Corporation. She continues to serve on the board of the Economic Development Corporation.

Bradshaw’s practice is focused on commercial and industrial real estate and business law. She represents a variety of local manufacturers and businesses, both small and...


Partner, David W. Hood recently received the Government of Catawba County Distinguished Public Service Award at a meeting of the Board of Commissioners of Catawba County, North Carolina. He has served the citizens of Catawba County as a member of the Board of Elections for the past 20 years and has served as Chair for the last 7 years. We are very proud of his hard work and leadership in this role.


On April 10, 2018, Kim Whitley presented a program on Special Assistance and Medicaid to the Catawba Valley Paralegal Association. The presentation was held at Catawba Valley Community College. Ms. Whitley’s presentation discussed the differences between Special Assistance and Medicaid, how to apply for each type of assistance, and tips on how to tailor an estate plan in order for a client to qualify for assistance. If you have any questions or need assistance with Estate Planning, Elder Law or Special Assistance and Medicaid, please contact Ms. Whitley.


The City of Hickory has a new water splash pad for children thanks to the efforts and funding by the City of Hickory, the Hickory Kiwanis Club and the Western Catawba County Kiwanis Club. The new splash pad was recently named the “Charles D. Dixon Memorial Splash Pad” at Kiwanis Park. At the recommendation of both Kiwanis Clubs and the Hickory Parks and Recreation Commission, the Hickory City Council voted to name the splash pad after Charles Dixon who was an active Kiwanian for over 50 years. He was often instrumental in helping the Kiwanis Clubs raise funds for various service projects in and around Hickory, including the Zahra Baker All Children’s Playground. The “Charles D. Dixon Memorial Splash Pad” officially opens May 1, 2018 and is located at 805 6th Street, Hickory NC.

Mr. Dixon was one of the founding partners of the Firm and practiced law for over 60 years. He passed away in 2016.


Taylor Rodney a rising senior at Appalachian State University, completed an undergraduate internship with Patrick, Harper & Dixon, LLP this summer. Taylor, who is majoring in Political Science with a concentration in Pre-Professional Law and minoring in Criminal Justice, plans to begin her journey through law school in August of 2018.

Because the Partners are involved with a multitude of practice areas, Taylor was able to experience different areas of the law, including Mediations, Civil Litigation, Estate Planning and Administration, and more.

Taylor worked with not only the legal side of the Firm, but also the administrative part. Through this integrated approach, she learned about topics such as managing trust accounts, marketing the business, and organizing various aspects of the Firm. Taylor’s final research paper explores the growth of cyber fraud—which is a pervasive threat to all law firms—and analyzes existing cybersecurity measures to compile the best defense strategies.

The attorneys at Patrick, Harper & Dixon, make a conscious effort to give...


Michael P. Thomas, a partner with the law firm of Patrick, Harper & Dixon LLP, has been certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission as a North Carolina Superior Court Mediator. Mediation is a structured settlement discussion among the parties to a lawsuit or other dispute. Courts frequently order participants in litigation to attend mediation. Only Certified Mediators are eligible to conduct mediation sessions ordered by North Carolina Superior Courts.

Mr. Thomas represents clients in litigation throughout North Carolina and around the country, in cases concerning intellectual property, employment laws, corporate governance, and business transactions which have not ended successfully. He also advises and represents business clients in negotiating complex agreements, including executive agreements and corporate transactions. The training required to become certified not only further enhances Mr. Thomas’ skills negotiating on behalf of clients but it also expands the set of services he offers to the community.


Patrick, Harper & Dixon, LLP, one of Hickory’s oldest and largest law firms, has added Amanda Carpenter Perez as an intern for the summer. Amanda received her undergraduate degree in Economics from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a law student at Wake Forest University School of Law. She plans on receiving her Juris Doctorate in May of 2018 and wants to practice in the areas of Estate Planning and Tax Law.

The attorneys at Patrick, Harper & Dixon focus on multiple aspects of the law: Business and Corporate, Estate Planning, Litigation, Real Property, Employment, Family Law, Health Care, Elder and Special Needs, and Arbitration and Mediation. For Amanda, the exposure to various fields makes the internship both highly educational and enjoyable because “no day is the same, and [she is] able to see many aspects of practicing law.” From day one of Patrick, Harper & Dixon’s recruitment at Wake Forest Law, Amanda knew she wanted to be at the close-to-home firm because of its great “collegial atmosphere.” Amanda’s main goal for this internship is...


Colton Sexton, an associate of the firm, recently graduated from Leadership Catawba as a member of the 2016/2017 class. Leadership Catawba is a Catawba County Chamber of Commerce program aimed at educating local professionals about all aspects of the community, from local government to the many small businesses and non-profits serving the area.

Patrick, Harper & Dixon strongly believes in the importance of community involvement, and Leadership Catawba provides the perfect opportunity to learn about and connect with the many organizations that help make Catawba County such a great place to live and work. The law firm has sponsored participation in the Leadership Catawba program for many partners, associates and members of the staff throughout the years.

A Catawba County native, Colton represents businesses, nonprofits and individuals in the areas of real property, contract, business and corporate law. He joined the firm in 2015, returning home to Hickory after graduating from Wake Forest University School of Law. Colton received his undergraduate degree in...


David W. Hood and Michael J. Barnett, partners with the Hickory law firm of Patrick, Harper & Dixon LLP, were recently honored in North Carolina’s 2017 “Super Lawyers” publication. Mr. Hood was named a “Super Lawyer” for the fifth consecutive year. Mr. Barnett was named a “Rising Star” for the sixth consecutive year.

The selection process consisted of nominations and evaluations by other lawyers, as well as independent research by the “Super Lawyers” research department. The evaluation is based on twelve indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement: verdicts and settlements; transactions; representative clients; experience; honors and awards; special licenses and certifications; position within law firm; bar and/or other professional activity; pro bono and community service as a lawyer; scholarly lectures and writings; education and employment background; and other outstanding achievements. A “Rising Stars” candidate must be forty years old or younger, or have practiced law less than ten years.

Mr. Hood represents clients in the western half of...


David Hood, partner in the Hickory firm of Patrick, Harper & Dixon, was recently appointed by Supreme Court Chief Justice Mark Martin to the North Carolina Equal Access to Justice Commission. The Commission works to expand access to civil legal representation for people of low income and modest means. It helps to coordinate the provision of services by legal aid organizations, non-profit entities, and through the pro bono efforts of law firms and individual North Carolina attorneys.