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Business Law Articles

Internet contracts must be apparent to be enforceable

If you do business using the internet, you want to ensure your internet contracts are enforceable. To do that, terms need to be presented in such a way that users have reasonable knowledge of them. Your internet agreements may cover a range of terms including allowable use of the site, privacy policies, subscriber agreements, terms of sale, and credit card agreements. These agreements can impact where a lawsuit is adjudicated and whether arbitration is mandatory, among

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Tax write-offs for government settlements restricted

Included in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was a provision that disallowed tax deductions for settlements between federal agencies and companies accused of wrongdoing. While previous tax law already barred deductions for criminal fines and penalties owed to the government, businesses could still deduct payments made to compensate victims or correct damages. The effect, critics said, is that taxpayers ended up subsidizing corporate misconduct.

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Can a business refuse service to same-sex couples?

After ruling in favor of a baker who refused to create a wedding cake for a same-sex couple, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a case involving a florist who made a similar denial. The court sent the florist’s case back to a lower court, directing it to revisit the decision in light of the ruling involving the cake, the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. In ruling for the baker, Jack Phillips, the court held that Colorado

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Glitch in new tax law discouraging business investment

In June, a group of restaurants, retailers, and industry associations sent a letter to lawmakers asking them to correct a mistake in the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act (TCJA). The law inadvertently increased the tax burden on a category of business investment called Qualified Improvement Property (QIP). The new tax law included a provision known as “100 percent bonus depreciation,” which allows businesses to write off immediately the cost of short-lived investments. Due to an error,

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California’s new data privacy law and your business

In June, California passed a consumer privacy law that could affect many organizations conducting business in the state. The law, which has been likened to the European Union’s GDPR regulations, gives California consumers the right to know what personal information a business has collected about them, including where it was sourced from and how that information is being used. Consumers also have the right to opt out of having their information sold, the right to delete

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Sales tax to hit online retailers

In late June, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that online retailers can be required to collect sales taxes in states where they have no physical presence. The decision came in the case of South Dakota v. Wayfair, Inc. and represents a victory for brick-and-mortar stores as well as states that claimed they were losing billions of dollars in revenue. The ruling effectively overturned a 1992 judgment in which the court ruled that states couldn’t require businesses

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Tips when evaluating cyber-insurance policies

Cyber-insurance policies cover business liability for a data breach in which customer information (such as social security or credit data) is exposed or stolen by a hacker. Such policies may also cover data breaches due to employee error or malfeasance. Depending on the policy, this insurance can cover a range of expenses associated with data breaches, including notification costs, credit monitoring, costs to defend legal claims, fines and penalties, and other applicable losses.

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When you should mediate a legal dispute

If your business is involved in a legal dispute, you may voluntarily agree or be required to participate in mediation.  Mediation is an alternative way of setting disputes that involves negotiation with support from a neutral third-party. Typically, mediation involves key decision makers from each party as well as their legal counsel. The mediator begins by leading the parties through a confidential review of the situation at hand. Then, depending on the nature of the conflict,

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How to shield your website or app from copycats

They say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. That’s all well and good if someone copies your new outfit. But imitation is a whole other issue when it comes to online innovation. Let’s say you’ve just come up with a new online business idea and you’re convinced it has the potential to be the next big market disrupter, like Uber or Airbnb. Can you patent the website, app or software? The unhappy answer is

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Safeguard trade secrets

Your company’s proprietary information is your secret sauce. It’s what makes your company distinct and competitive in the market. Yet too few businesses put real time and attention into protecting this valuable information. If information is stolen and you choose to pursue legal measures, you have an obligation to show that you took reasonable steps to protect your proprietary data. But this kind of litigation can be a slow process that may never really compensate you

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