Business Law Articles

Protecting trade secrets when your team works from home

Any proprietary information that belongs to your business might be a “trade secret” or protected confidential information. Trade secrets are a type of “intellectual property” owned by your business and they are protected by law. You can require people who work for you to keep trade secrets confidential. Under federal law, a trade secret is defined as information from which your business gains “independent economic value” and which is not generally known to others. Also, you,

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Tips for executing agreements electronically

Electronic execution of agreements is quickly becoming more commonplace in most businesses. But how can you obtain authorized e-signatures and be sure it is a sound agreement? Contract formation is generally governed by state law rules, and the requirements are similar for a virtually executed contract: The agreement must state that the customer consents to enter into the agreement electronically. There has to be a way to identify the individual electronically signing the agreement. The process

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Let’s Zoom: The legal challenges of the videoconferencing explosion

Videoconferencing isn’t exactly new, and many people have been using Skype or FaceTime for face-to-face conversations for quite some time. But it’s no secret that the pandemic opened many more businesses to regular videoconferencing through a host of readily available tools, including Zoom. What many business owners might not be thinking about are the possible legal risks associated with the widespread use of these platforms. Generally, the tools companies are using were intended for more casual

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Sole Proprietorship: The Good, the Bad, and the Legal Reality

What Dreams Are Made of? Being your own boss is a dream for many. It is also a pleasant daydream to many more stuck in stifling offices or unfulfilling careers. In addition to freedom from an unsympathetic supervisor’s requirements, owning a business appeals to so many because of the opportunity for greater creative expression in your work and the perception that more money will go into your wallet rather than to a nameless, faceless higher-up in

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Patent lawsuits are on the rise

Patent disputes are increasing, according to recent information gathered by Unified Patents, an organization that works to reduce patent abuse. According to the data, nearly 900 district court lawsuits relating to patents were filed in the second quarter of 2019. Patent fights tend to increase when the economy experiences a slowdown. New areas of patents, such as new smartphone-related technology, new cannabis products and new products in the life sciences space, may be behind an uptick

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FTC settles case involving privacy violation on Yelp

A Federal Trade Commission settlement with a California mortgage broker who posted personal information about consumers on Yelp after they posted negative reviews of his services is a cautionary tale to businesses, which should never publicly disclose clients’ personal information. According to a Department of Justice complaint filed on behalf of the FTC, mortgage broker Ramon Walker, owner of Mount Diablo Lending, responded to negative Yelp reviews by posting information about customers’ health, taxes, credit history,

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OSHA increases maximum fines for 2020

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has boosted its maximum fines for workplace safety violations. The new maximum fine for “serious” violations is $13,500 per violation, while the top fine for “willful” or “repeated” violations is $135,000 per violation. Typically, an OSHA investigation is prompted by a worker contacting OSHA anonymously or an employer filing a required report. Employers generally are not obligated to inform OSHA about workplace injuries except in certain circumstances: a fatality must

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New rule raises the bar for immigrant investors

A new rule raises the minimum amount foreigners need to invest to qualify for a U.S. green card under the EB-5 program. Created in 1992, the program grants green cards to foreign nationals who make the necessary investment in a commercial enterprise in the U.S. In addition to minimum financial benchmarks, the program stipulates that an investment must also create (or, in certain circumstances, preserve) 10 permanent full-time jobs for U.S. workers. The EB-5 Modernization Rule

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‘Joint employers’ rules clarify FLSA responsibilities

New “joint employer” rules make it easier for franchise owners to understand their responsibilities under the federal Fair Labor Standards Act. The final rule from the Department of Labor limits situations in which franchisors and franchisees are considered “joint employers” of workers under the act. It modifies a policy, enacted under the Obama administration, that potentially made a franchisor liable for the failure of a franchisee to pay overtime or minimum wage, even if the franchise

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Consider going cash-free, with caution

There’s a growing trend toward cashless businesses. From clothing stores to coffee shops to salons, some businesses are implementing cash-free policies. Only credit and debit cards allowed. What’s behind the trend? Cash-free businesses (and credit advocates) say there are a number of benefits: Speed up the checkout process: It’s quicker to swipe or tap a credit card than to count cash and make change. If your business has long lines at peak service times, going cash-free

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