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Depositors of banks and savings institutions sometimes lose substantial sums because they have not taken care to keep their deposits within the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation's (FDIC) insurance limit of $100,000. Following are some typical situations that have caused deposited sums to be left uninsured. Overestimation of Coverage for Joint Accounts-A depositor does not have a "new" $100,000 insurance limit for each joint account that he or she has with different parties. Instead, the FDIC totals each person's shares in all joint accounts at one institution and insures that sum up to $100,000.

Misunderstanding Coverage of Revocable Trust Accounts-The owner of a revocable trust account has the use of the money during his or her lifetime, after which the funds pass to specified beneficiaries.

Each beneficiary's interest in such a trust is insured, up to $100,000, separately from any other accounts at the institution, but only if certain conditions are met. A beneficiary must be the depositor's spouse, child, grandchild, parent, or sibling. In addition, the $100,000 of insurance per beneficiary does not apply if the account owner puts conditions on the interests of the beneficiaries, such as requiring that they get a college degree or leaving payment up to a trustee's discretion.

Third-Party Deposits-Typically, an account owner is aware of all deposits made into the account. In some instances, however, such as the sale of a house or receiving money from a lawsuit, someone handling funds for the account owner will make a deposit into an escrow account at the same institution. When added to other accounts, such a deposit could put the account owner over the limit for insurance.

IRAs and Keoghs-It is a common misconception that retirement accounts are fully insured regardless of the amount. Instead, IRAs and self-directed Keogh funds are separately protected, up to a total of $100,000, from any nonretirement funds at the same institution. The Roth IRA is treated like a traditional IRA for purposes of deposit insurance. The new Education IRA is treated like an irrevocable trust account, not an IRA, for deposit insurance purposes. The coverage depends on the terms of the document creating the Education IRA.

Trademarks - A trademark is a word, phrase, symbol, or design, or a combination thereof, that identifies and distinguishes the source or origin of goods or services. A service mark is like a trademark except that it refers to a service instead of a product. Trademark rights can be used to prevent others from using a confusingly similar mark but not to prevent the making of the same goods or selling such goods under a nonconfusing mark.

The filing of a registration application with the federal Patent and Trademark Office is one way to establish rights in a mark, but rights also can arise simply from the actual use of a mark. There are greater benefits from registration, however, such as a presumption that the owner of the registered mark is, in fact, its owner and is entitled to use it across the country. Unlike patents and copyrights, trademark rights can last as long as the trademark is used to identify goods or services, although the registration must be renewed every 10 years and certain information must be filed with the government to keep the registration alive.

Copyrights - A copyright protects the writings of an author of "original works of authorship" from unauthorized copying. Published and unpublished works of a literary, dramatic, musical, or artistic nature are protected by copyright law. Copyrights are registered in the Copyright Office in the Library of Congress, but a copyright is secured automatically when the work is fixed in a copy or phonorecord for the first time.

Federal law gives the owner of a copyright the exclusive right to do, or to authorize others to do, the following things: reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords, prepare derivative works, distribute copies or photorecords to the public, perform the work publicly, display the work publicly, and, for sound recordings, perform the work publicly by means of a digital audio transmission. Generally, any work created after January 1, 1978 is protected for the author's life, plus 50 years.

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