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Articles in the Headline Category

Employees, Entities, Headline, Licenses, Organizational Structure, Regulation »

[13 Sep 2009 | No Comment | ]
When Small Businesses Go Big: Deciding Whether to Franchise or License

Mama Fu’s Noodle House started as a single Pan-Asian restaurant in downtown Atlanta. Founded by entrepreneur Martin Sprock, who expanded the outlet through his franchising company Raving Brands, the restaurant quickly grew from a single eatery to a fast-casual food chain with locations in Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Texas. However, the rapid growth of the chain led to discontent among the franchisees, who believed that the company had grown too quickly without providing the support, marketing and training promised under franchise agreements. In December 2006, when it was estimated that Mama Fu’s had reached or exceeded approximately 40 restaurants within 24 months, a group of 29 franchisees and investors sued Martin Sprock, Raving Brands and Mama Fu’s, alleging a variety of claims including violations of state contract and franchise law.

Headline, Internet Contracts, Marketing, Regulation »

[26 Aug 2009 | No Comment | ]
Something For Nothing: Digital and Mobile Promotions, Sweepstakes and Contests

Executives at NBC Universal decided to market reality TV show The Apprentice by launching a national watch-and-win sweepstakes. Viewers were given the opportunity to win a prize of $10,000 by voting for certain Apprentice contestants to be exiled from the group and forced to live in a tent. Those who voted online could participate for free. However, those who voted by text message were charged an entry fee of 99 cents. In 2007, a Georgia woman sued Donald Trump and NBC Universal for operating an illegal lottery in violation of state racketeering statutes. Similar class action lawsuits have also been filed against popular shows such as America’s Got Talent, Deal or No Deal and 1 vs. 100.

Employees, Headline, Regulation »

[20 Aug 2009 | No Comment | ]
Plugging In, Clocking In

If you pay the monthly bill for your employee’s Blackberry, are you required to pay your employee for the time spent checking work-related emails and text messages? T-Mobile retail associates recently made headlines by challenging the mobile provider’s requirement that employees review their company-issued smart devices off the clock.

Contractors, Contracts, Employees, Entities, Headline, Licenses, Organizational Structure, Taxes, Working with Lawyers »

[11 Jun 2009 | No Comment | ]
Calling It Quits

The decision to quit a venture is never an easy one for an entrepreneur. When the decision is driven by financial reasons, as is often the case in a troubled economy, it can be tempting to simply walk away under the rationale that no new business means the business is dead. The excitement of new projects or the appeal of a fresh start under a new name can overshadow the headaches associated with a failing business. But as cases like Emily Lane Homeowners Association v. Colonial Development, LLC show, maintaining the shell of a company is an all-too-convenient move that leaves owners vulnerable to lawsuits and liability. The failure to properly wind up affairs may lead to a variety of repercussions.

Entities, Headline, Intellectual Property, Internet Contracts, Licenses, Litigation, Marketing »

[8 Jun 2009 | No Comment | ]
A Guide To Cease and Desist Letters

The problems began in 2006 when web designer Terry Wilson launched a small business to market her custom-made laptop cases. Because the cases were designed to protect a laptop, like a pod protects a seed, and because she perceived “pod” to be an appealing buzz word, Wilson dubbed her product the TightPod, registered a trademark and began making sales at the domain of the same name. To her surprise, she received a letter from Apple, the company first to file for the trademark “pod”, requesting that she cease using the TightPod name and undertake the costly procedure of rebranding her product.

Contracts, Employees, Headline, Intellectual Property, Working with Lawyers »

[31 May 2009 | No Comment | ]
Out Of The Bag: Pitfalls and Limitations Of The Non-Disclosure Agreement

After 20 years of employment, Rowena Cheung quit her job with Fada International, an importer of jewelry and precious stones. She not only left the company with trade experience, but also an extensive rolodex of client contacts which she used to launch her own jewelry business. However, Cheung had signed a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) before leaving the company, in which she had promised not to disclose the customer information. Her former employer, in an effort to maintain its position in the competitive jewelry import business, then filed a lawsuit against Cheung claiming that she had misappropriated customer information.

Contractors, Contracts, Employees, Headline, Internet Contracts, Marketing »

[25 May 2009 | No Comment | ]
Pay To Play: The Risks and Liabilities of Internet Advertising

San Francisco-based marketing company Member Source Media wanted to drive consumers to its branded online promotions. Like its competitors, the company registered several domain names, paid for web advertising and launched a pro-active email marketing campaign. However, the company distinguished itself from other web marketers by relying on a single surefire method of drawing consumers: offering something for nothing. In ubiquitous banner ads and email solicitations, Member Source Media dangled the promise of free gifts, such as laptop computers and iPods, in exchange for taking the time to fill out a few online surveys. These offers ultimately proved to be too good to be true.

Contractors, Contracts, Employees, Headline, Litigation, Organizational Structure »

[19 May 2009 | No Comment | ]
The Risks Of Hiring An Independent Contractor

In 2007, a 23 year-old woman hailed a Greater Houston Transportation cab and asked the driver to take her home. He began to drive toward Kingwood, a suburb outside of Houston where she lived, but ignored her request to make the exit. When the woman threatened to call the police, the driver grabbed her phone and threatened to rape her. She escaped by jumping out of the moving cab. The driver was an ex-convict who had served several prison terms for a number of felonies, including assault. Although the woman survived, she claimed that she suffered from post-traumatic stress syndrome and filed a lawsuit against Yellow Cab, the regional taxi company that employed the driver.

Arbitration, Contracts, Headline, Intellectual Property, Internet Contracts, Litigation, Marketing »

[14 May 2009 | No Comment | ]
Taking Names: How To Deal With Cybersquatting

Herbal tea manufacturer Traditional Medicinals wanted to market a trademarked laxative tea product called Smooth Move at the website SmoothMove.com. In 2008, the California-based company tried to register the domain but discovered that the domain had already been claimed by WorldWide Media, an entity which had “parked” the domain with a website showing ads to visitors. Rather than rebrand its product or register a different domain, Traditional Medicinals initiated an arbitration proceeding against WorldWide Media asserting that the domain had been registered in bad faith.

DBA, Entities, Headline, Litigation, Organizational Structure, Vendors »

[7 May 2009 | No Comment | ]
Personal Assets At Risk

The excitement of launching a business can be as overwhelming as the day-to-day demands of making the new venture work. At the outset, it can be difficult to imagine that a new product, vendor deal or client account could lead to complications that would put your personal assets or, worse yet, the personal assets of your loved ones at risk. This is the kind of nightmare scenario faced by business owner Nicola DiCosola and his wife when an appellate court affirmed a $1.2 million judgment against DiConsola as an individual.