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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.

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.

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?

3 Biz Tips From Bezos: Taking a Page From Amazon's Book

There is plenty of advice online for business owners, much of which you should consider with caution. But if results are evidence then you can put your confidence in the tips of Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, a multibillion-dollar-business heading for valuation in the trillions, according to CNBC.

Bezos is famous for his shareholder letters, in which he outlines his vision for the future. This vision always accommodates failure, and even expects it. Let's consider three tips from this biz whiz.

Are Oral Contracts Ever Legal for Small Business Deals?

If you are making a deal, you should get it in writing. Sure, oral agreements can be enforceable, but there are exceptions. Many of the deals made by small businesses need to be in writing to be legally enforceable. Even if a contract can technically be made with an oral agreement, having a written record can help if the deal ever sours.

When you get things in writing and try to clarify terms to the extent possible, you can avoid misunderstandings and focus on growing your business. Let's consider some contracts basics.

Online Business Win: Louisiana's Age-Verification Law Gets Tossed

A federal judge last week ruled that a Louisiana statute requiring booksellers and publishers online to verify the age of website visitors is unconstitutional. The law is intended to protect minors from harmful materials, reports the Courthouse News Service, but the court found it violated free speech rights.

The American Civil Liberties Union called the ruling a victory for free expression, and local booksellers and publishers are no doubt breathing a sigh of relief. But you should too -- here is why the ruling means something to you even if you are far from Louisiana.

This week is the SBA's Small Business Week, so we'll be featuring legal advice for small businesses all week long. Today's topic is closing up the shop you opened -- how to sell or end your business.

Most entrepreneurs don't want to think about walking away from the companies they've founded, but that day comes for almost all of them. Whether you're moving on to the next big challenge or riding off into the sunset of retirement, the day will come when you and your small business part ways, so here's how to be prepared and to sell or end your business in the right way at the right time.

Lawsuits, for better or worse, are a fact of business life. And just because a business is small doesn't mean it can't or won't get sued. When small businesses get sued, other small business owners take notice and try and learn from the lawsuit, because there are lessons everywhere you look.

Here are five of the biggest small business lawsuits in the news recently, and the lessons other small business owners can take away:

Contract Advice for the Self-Employed

If you are self-employed you've probably already discovered that there is a lot to do and you could use some help with basic contract issues. Maybe sometimes you imagine that if you had a legal team, everything would be easier.

That might be true. But there are quite a few things you can do on your own -- and times when it is right to decide not to do much. Knowing the difference will make your working life easier. Here are a few tips on what problems to handle, how to handle them, and how to figure out when a problem is too big to handle independently.

Tips to Keep Personal and Business Finances Separate

Having a small business is great because it lets you be the boss. But being the boss means having more responsibility and there are a lot of things you must decide when you are in charge. One of the most important is a method for financial management.

As much as your business may feel like your whole life, you do need to separate your personal finances from those of the business and keep the boundaries strict. The first step to financial health in both of these aspects of your existence, business and personal life, is not mixing. Let's look at the ABCs of keeping your business organized.