Free Enterprise - FindLaw Small Business Law Blog

Free Enterprise - The FindLaw Small Business Law Blog


Whether in your advertising or in your shop decor, you may want to use a striking image or fantastic photo that you found. But be careful: the image may be copyrighted, and without a license to use the image, you may be committing copyright infringement.

"But," you say, "copyright licenses can be expensive, and my business doesn't make that much, and besides no one will probably know." All fair points, but none a proper legal defense. So here are some ideas if you want to use images but can't afford licensing fees:

Remember when you could start a business by making a pitcher of lemonade, setting a table up on the sidewalk, and designing a pretty sign?

Today, starting a business means paperwork, paperwork, and more paperwork. Big brother (the government) wants to be able to track your business for tax purposes and to protect the public. So, to start a business you'll likely need a permit or license.

Where can you find permit and licensing requirements to start a business?

Why take the risk of starting your own business from scratch when you can buy into an already successful chain? Many entrepreneurs think about this every day, which is why they buy franchises.

But buying a franchise isn't as easy as just slapping someone else's logo on your front door. We've written a lot about franchises over the years and have gathered some good information you should consider before taking this step. So before you sign that franchise agreement, here are 3 things you need to know:

When the debts start piling up, you may have to consider bankruptcy.

Bankruptcy may sound appealing. You get the creditors off your back and your debts discharged. Sure, it destroys your credit, but that can be rebuilt. However, what about your business?

What can happen to your business if you file for bankruptcy?

An estimated 15 million Americans have food allergies, including 1 in every 13 children. Every three minutes, someone is rushed to the emergency room for an allergic reaction to a food allergy.

Nearly 90 percent of food-allergic reactions are caused by milk, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, wheat, soy, and shellfish. With the prevalence of food allergies, can you be held liable if someone has an allergic reaction to your food products?

"Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery," or so they say. But when a giant retailer copies your t-shirt design, is that flattery or actual copyright infringement?

Work-at-home fashion designer Melissa Lay discovered Target is selling a nearly identical tank top to one that she printed in her garage for her Etsy store. She admits she didn't copyright the design, but could she still have a claim?

No one wants to be bad mouthed, especially by a disgruntled former employee.

Companies have tried, unsuccessfully, to censor customer complaints on review sites. However, customers may not be the only people who have bad things to say about your company. Your disgruntled ex-employees may have some disparaging comments and complaints of their own.

Can you make an employee sign a non-disparagement agreement as part of their severance package?

Last Sunday, a brawl among biker gangs broke out in front of Texas Twin Peaks restaurant.

It started out as quiet Sunday, but police were already on edge. They had prior warning that trouble between bike gangs may occur. So, police were at the Twin Peaks' parking lot staking out the restaurant. Suddenly, a fight erupted. The fight, between five rival gangs, escalated rapidly from punches and kicks to gunfire.

Nine people were killed. At least 18 people were injured. and over 170 people were arrested.

If you're in any kind of business, you're also in the contract business -- negotiating, writing, signing, and enforcing. In many ways, the contracts we sign end up running our businesses.

We just have to be sure they don't end up ruining our businesses. We want clear and concise terms that will be enforceable, if necessary. But just because a clause is in a signed contract doesn't mean a court will enforce it. Let's take a look at a few common contract provisions, and whether they're enforceable:

First and foremost, you want to make the best hiring decisions for your business. And maybe that means that you don't care if someone has a felony conviction on their record. Or maybe you say you would never hire a felon.

Either way, hiring a felon might actually be good for your small business. Between compliance with federal anti-discrimination laws and access to municipal contracts, there are a few reasons to consider hiring former felons.