Free Enterprise - FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog


Lessons From the SEC: Whistleblower Office Reveals Rewards

It takes courage to blow the whistle on fraud, but it can pay off for tipsters. The Securities and Exchange Commission rewards those who come forward with valuable tips and help with investigations of market malfeasance, and this program can be instructive to indiviudal businesses.

In one week this month the agency announced three monetary awards totaling $10 million for whistleblowers. In a statement, the SEC explained why it pays so much and where the funds come from. Let's take a look.

Top 5 Small Business Intellectual Property Issues

Your business may sell tangible goods -- cars or cupcakes, say -- or it may sell services. But whatever business you are in, you will likely also have some intellectual property, meaning ideas, concepts, methods, phrases, or images which you seek to protect.

Intellectual property law governs the grant of patents, trademarks, copyright, and more. Let's consider the top five IP issues for small business.

Angel Investor David Rose Advises All Startups to Hire a Lawyer

When you start a business, there is a lot to handle and it makes sense to hire a lawyer. But many business people don't do that, thinking they will leave the little details for later, once the big stuff is set up.

That is not a good idea, according to David Rose, who is a successful serial investor and the author of The Startup Checklist: 25 Steps to a Scalable, High-Growth Business. In a review of Rose's book in Fortune, it is noted that this entrepreneur considers hiring a lawyer an important initial step in starting a business. Let's look at what he says.

Expanded Overtime Pay Rule: Are Lawsuits Coming?

Last week the Department of Labor announced expanded overtime pay for millions of middle-class workers. People who work more than 40 hours a week and earn salaries of up to about $47,000 a year will now benefit from higher pay for their added hours, up from a cap of about $23,000.

The expansion, which goes into effect in December, is meant to assist a beleaguered middle-class, hard hit by the economic downturn of the last decade. But will this end up costing businesses more than they can afford? The move seems sure to spawn added labor lawsuits. Let's consider.

3 Legal Tips for Business Name Changes

It's time to update, so you're considering a brand overhaul and a business name change. Many companies do it, both big and small.

Blackberry used to be Research in Motion until it named itself after its most popular product, while Apple Computers simply streamlined by turning into Apple. Recently, the tech giant Google grew too big for one name, adding Alphabet. So it is common and can prove profitable to change your business name. Just remember these three legal tips, plus some, for when you begin.

New Overtime Pay Regulations and Your Business

The Labor Department this week announced the expansion of overtime pay for salaried workers. This is expected to affect millions in the middle class. The Obama Administration hopes the measure will improve pay for people working over 40 hours a week on salaries of up to $47,000.

"The middle class is getting clobbered," Vice President Joe Biden said, explaining the rationale for the regulation. But already opposition is gathering on the right. Meanwhile, reports The New York Times, some business leaders predict negative consequences for workers. Let's look at what this might mean to your business.

DTSA: Employers Must Notify Workers of New Whistleblower Protection

Do you have trade secrets? What about employees or contractors? If so, you need to know that a new law is in place, the Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA), which requires employers to notify workers of limited immunity for disclosure of a trade secret in the context of whistleblowing.

The DTSA provides limited immunity from liability for confidential disclosure of a trade secret to the government or in a court filing, reports patent law blog Patently-O. The immunity for whistleblowers applies in state and federal and criminal and civil cases.

Yesterday the White House announced new rules expanding overtime pay protections for millions of salaried employees. Starting December 1, salaried employees making $47,476 or less will be entitled to time-and-a-half pay if they work over 40 hours per week.

The new rule is expected to impact some 4.2 million workers and scores of small businesses as well. Here's what small business owners and employers need to know about overtime rules, from the FindLaw archives.

Taxation and Representation: What Your Tax Bracket Reveals

If tax rates are determined relative to a person's income and assets, then you'd think everyone would want to be in the top bracket. The more you pay in taxes, theoretically, the more money you must be making, and owing the Internal Revenue Service a lot should be considered a sign of success.

But in reality people and businesses try to pay the least they can in taxes. For example, Donald Trump, who loves to boast about his wealth, is refusing to release his tax returns to the public or even reveal what tax bracket he is in, according to The New York Times. When asked last week, he told reporters, "It's none of your business," and admitted that he fights hard to pay very little tax. Let's consider.

After being told to ensure their drivers were not safety risks, Uber and Lyft have picked up their ridesharing app and fled Austin, Texas. The companies had spent $8-$9 million trying to pass Proposition 1, which would have exempted them from fingerprinting and performing background checks on drivers -- the same regulations under which cab companies operate.

When that lobbying effort failed, the two companies disrupted their way out of town, leaving around 10,000 drivers out of work with less than 48 hours notice. (Good thing those drivers weren't employees, or the mass layoffs may have violated the WARN Act.) So what's next for Uber, Lyft, and the city that tried to hold them accountable for rider safety?