Category Archives: legal

Questions About You Must Know the Answers To

Factors To Consider When Choosing A Good DUI Attorney.
In many states, it’s illegal to drive while under the influence of something so you may be arrested, but the DUI attorneys will be there for you. These lawyers are perfect and will ensure no negative implications falls on your driving record, and one won’t be fined.
Its good to take your time to know if you are choosing a mesmerizing DUI attorney that won’t let you down. There are specific areas where information about DUI lawyers may be fetched from. First, all DUI lawyers have local law firms they have laid out for ease of reaching out to their local customers.
Great and worthy DUI lawyers have website and social media accounts where you need to camp for details. You may also be assured of the best referral and recommendations to the best DUI attorney by your family members. The following essential factors should guide you in finding a good DUI lawyer.
First, one should consider a legitimate DUI lawyer that have a phone number, email address and website links for ease of finding them for service. Ask the DUI lawyer to give you their testimonials and accreditation details so you can prove they are licensed.
The benefit with certified DUI lawyers is they are authentic and protective of their customers. Check also if the attorney being chosen have been trained fully on all matters of DUI laws.
This shows they are qualified and competent, so they are up to the task. As you choose the best DUI attorney, always consider choosing those with past references that you can contact for more details. If the DUI lawyer is reputable and recognized all over for their exemplary service, it means they deserve to be considered for service.
In the process of choosing a good DUI advocate, remember they should have enough exposure and expertise for them to leave a legacy. Check here! also if they have offered many legal representations for a long period. As you choose the best DUI lawyer based on their exposure, remember they will use their insight and skills to perfect their service delivery.
One also need to know more about the charges or fees for seeing a good DUI attorney. It’s good to hire a DUI lawyer that will give you affordable terms of charges that can fit well on your budget. In seeking service from a good due legal expert, remember to hire them based on the quality of this service where only admirable attorneys will carry the day.
To know if the DUI lawyer is exquisite, check if they have a track record and good ratings and rankings. You also need to discover more about their reviews since they will show you if the DUI lawyer is superlative or not.

Short Course on – Covering The Basics

Why Is There a Need to Hire a Reputable Accident Attorney

Whenever you are involved in any type of accident then that can be devastating. And in order for you to be able to cope up then you will need the services of a reputable accident attorney. A reputable accident attorney will be able to provide you with a number of benefits. And that is also the reason why you always have to make sure that you will understand the reason why you need to hire a reputable one.

Once you will make sure that you will be hiring a reputable attorney then it is them that can have a big difference in the case that you have. Whenever it is you that will be hiring a reputable attorney then they will see to it that they will be maximizing the resources that you have. They will see to it that there will be no stone unturned especially when it comes to the evidence. Whenever it is this one that is done then it will be the negligent party that will liable.

It is a reputable attorney that will see to it that all forms of claims will be filed. It is also when these claims are considered that many of these are done through negotiations. It is negotiations that are being done to avoid the insurance company to take part since it will take a long time before the process is done once they will be entering the conversation. It is you that will be completed well once you will be hiring a reputable attorney since they have the right negotiation skills. Whenever you are able to hire a reputable accident attorney then it is them that has the ability to leverage the situation.

Once a reputable attorney will be filing claims then they will see to it that it will indicate the negligence of the other party. It is the negotiations that will be a success and the attorney will make sure of that especially if the defendant is more than capable of paying the claims than that of the insurance company. It is common for most insurance companies to have a cap. It is the compensation that will be more than the cap that the attorney will be giving you if they think that you deserve more. Getting more compensation is always visible especially if there are more than one negligent party. These things are always achievable once you will make sure that you will be hiring a reputable attorney by your side.

Findg the right attorney for you can be done once you will be doing your research. Since there are many options that you can have in the market then choosing the right one is not that hard anymore. Professionals like Abogado Alejandro Padua is one of the reputable ones that you can choose.

Incorporating? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

Incorporating? Avoid these 5 Mistakes

In this four-part series, writer Polly Brewster explores avoiding common legal mistakes.

Think your start-up is so small it doesn’t need to form a corporation? Think again. Incorporation gives you limited liability. More clearly stated, it provides a shield for your personal assets outside of your company. The apartment you own? The car you drive to your shared office space? Until you have an Inc. or LLC. at the end of your company name, that can all be up for grabs if someone decides to sue you or an investor wants their money back.

“Imagine you have a contract in front of you. Ask yourself are you signing it in your personal capacity—with all of your personal assets, like your personal bank account, behind it—or is it more appropriately an obligation of a company?” says Erika J.S. Buell, a Senior Lecturing Fellow at Duke Law School and a former in-house corporate counsel for Revolution Money Inc., a startup payments company.

That said, incorporating can be complicated, but we’ve outlined 5 missteps you can avoid.

1. Skipping the founders’ agreement. There’s a reason Facebook’s beginnings made it to the big screen: Zuck and Co. never drew up a founders’ agreement. Unless you’re also looking for movie-style drama, sit down with your partners and hash out exactly who gets what down the line. Before you even think about incorporation, outline an equity agreement and, if necessary, agree to non-compete contracts to guarantee that you’re starting off with a clear vision.

These talks can be awkward, but they could keep your friendship intact. “It can be tragic,” says Esther Barron, Director of the Entrepreneurship Law Center at Northwestern University Law School. “I’ve seen businesses fail and friendships fall apart because there was so much internal fighting they couldn’t focus on moving forward.”

2. Incorporating while working somewhere else. If you’re still clocking in as someone’s employee, then you need to think about how your boss might view your new venture. “There are several things to consider: Is this new business in competition with your current employer? Are you subject to an enforceable non-compete agreement?” explains Buell. In addition, you should make sure you didn’t use any of your current employer’s resources or confidential information to launch your start-up. “Especially with intellectual property-based businesses, an entrepreneur needs to think about whether or not her current employer could have any claim to the intellectual property that is expected to be the basis of this new business,” Buell says.

3. Not acting like a corporation. Just filing the legal documents to become an Inc or LLC. is not enough. Getting the protection that comes with incorporating requires work. “There are certain formalities,” Barron says. “Most states require annual reports and board and shareholder meetings with minutes for corporations. But it’s worth it.” In addition, you need to build a firewall between your personal assets and the company’s. “Accounts, records, and assets should be kept completely separate from personal ones,” Buell advises. “All contracts should be in the company’s name with appropriate corporate designation and signed by persons acting on its behalf.”

4. Skipping payroll taxes. Making ends meet at the start of a new venture can be tough and you might be tempted to give your bottom line a little relief by covering payroll taxes at the next pay period. Resist this temptation. “I see entrepreneurs do this from time to time,” Alan Singleton, managing partner of Singleton Law Firm that specializes in start-ups. “But this is one area where the government won’t respect your limited legal liability. They will go after the personal assets of any high-level employees that are associated with payroll.” So, once you’ve incorporated, be smart and pay Uncle Sam his due whenever you cut paychecks.

5. Not researching corporate entities. There are a variety of corporate entities and it’s a smart idea to hire a lawyer to discuss what works best for your business, even if you feel confident enough to file the paperwork on your own. “There are different tax structures depending on whether you’re an LLC. or an S Corporation (to just name two types) and certain investors like different types. For example, venture capital firms like C corporations,” Singleton says, for their more flexible terms for stockholders. Spending the money on a lawyer early on in a business can be tough, so make sure you get someone who has worked with entrepreneurs in your field. “You also don’t need just ‘a lawyer’ but one who is well versed in this area,” Buell explains. “Remember that each business will be different and each state has its own corporate, LLC., and partnership law which can change often.”

5 Common Legal Mistakes That Can Trip-Up Your Startup

5 Common Legal Mistakes That Can Trip-Up Your Startup

Your entrepreneurial dreams can quickly become nightmares if you fail to acknowledge the legal realities that can make or break your new business.

No matter what that business is, it will involve the law. You can choose to look at legal issues as a burdensome cost of doing business or you can look at the law as a tool to be leveraged to further your goals and position yourself and your company for success.

Related: The Biggest Legal Mistake Entrepreneurs Make

No matter how you look at it, however, you can spare yourself unnecessary grief by avoiding these five common legal mistakes for start-ups and entrepreneurs:
1. Lack of structure.

Especially for solo entrepreneurs whose company begins and ends with them, forming a corporate entity may seem like an unnecessary complication. The reality is that by establishing a corporate structure, whether an S-corp, a limited liability company, a general or limited partnership, or any number of specialized entities, you can protect your personal assets from any liabilities you incur in your business, minimize your tax liabilities, and take advantage of other benefits afforded by the law.
2. Stepping on someone’s IP toes.

You have a world-changing idea, a name for your business that will stick in customers’ minds like glue, and an eye-catching logo. Before you invest your blood, sweat, tears, and dollars on any of those, you need to make sure that you are not infringing on someone else’s intellectual property. You or your intellectual property lawyer should conduct thorough searches and other due diligence to ensure that your company’s business and branding don’t expose you to infringement claims or force you to make costly and disruptive changes down the road.

3. Undefined roles and responsibilities

You and your partners all have the same dreams of success for your new business, but while everybody may be on the same team, failing to clearly define the roles each of you has in the business – who owns what, who does what, and who controls what — is a recipe for conflict and confusion. You and your co-owners need to have a written partnership or shareholder agreement that makes clear the respective rights and obligations of each owner.
4. No exit strategy

Just like you may not be thinking about divorce on your wedding day, how you or your partners would go about leaving your business behind may be the furthest thing from your mind as you start your new venture. But business partners can grow apart or have different visions and goals as the years go by and may ultimately want to say goodbye or cash in their chips. Knowing how and when owners can sell their stake in the business, how much they should be paid for their shares, and who can buy an interest in the company is crucial. Have your attorney prepare a buy-sell agreement that addresses these back-end issues up front to provide for smooth transitions in the future.

5. Legal DIY

As an entrepreneur, you’re one of those folks who takes things into their own hands; if there’s something that needs to be done for your new business, you’ll take care of it. Combine that can-do attitude with the seeming ease and affordably of do-it-yourself legal websites and forms and it can be tempting to see your laptop as your lawyer. But saving a few dollars upfront by not working with an experienced small business attorney can cost you significantly more in the long run.

Filling in some blanks on preprinted forms that don’t address your specific needs, goals, and issues can leave you exposed to a number of problems that an attorney could have helped you avoid. With so much to do and so many other things to worry about as you try to get things off the ground, get someone on your team who can bring you peace of mind and ensure that you are positioned for success.

How This Company is Using AI to Simplify Legal Research

How This Company is Using AI to Simplify Legal Research
India has more than 25 million cases pending in courts across the country

AI and machine learning-based platforms are slowly taking over traditional digital ventures. The primary goal of all AI-enabled innovations is to reduce human labour and ultimately automate the workings of any system.

Just as businesses are adopting AI to improve productivity and efficiency, there is a growing need among professionals to gear up as well. Lawyers, like doctors can have a hard time in referencing the right book/manual/research paper when at work, even with the internet being at their disposal. To solve this difficulty among the legal community, Gaurav Srivastava and Dr Prhalad K Routh launched Mitra.ai in 2016, an AI-based platform that simplifies legal research.

What Does it Do

The platform acts as a search engine for legal research including and also shows recommended precedents. It works on an AI driven algorithm to help the legal community work in a more efficient manner by narrowing down their search based on relevant context.

Why this Idea

“The prevalent mindset about Indian judiciary system projects ‘more money better justice’. We wanted to alleviate this rationale , by democratizing judicial system by improving the productivity of legal research,” says Srivastava, whose earlier venture Zimmber was sold to Quickr for $10mn.

The Business Model

The business runs on a subscription-based model where the company offers differential pricing for various customer groups, depending on the duration of enrollment and the material accessed. The product reaches these customers through a SaaS based distribution model delivered through cloud.

The core target group are law firms , individual practitioners and law students as they spend almost 40% of their professional hours doing legal research.

Challenges and Competition

There have been some models like Mitra.ai in the market for a while now like Legal Docs, but Srivastava feels these emphasize more on day to day standardized legal formats/documents which lawyers use while filing to courts.

“We specialize in legal research domain, which essentially covers all the features to augment legal research efficiently,” he said. It contains all law manuals, including the Criminal Procedure Codes, Constitutional Laws, Civil laws etc along with case histories archived by the Supreme Court of India, Delhi High Court and Mumbai High Court. The company is working on including more case histories from courts all over India.

The Future of AI for Legal Research

AI has already opened up new frontiers for the technology Industry and is off-late being tested widely in the medical industry too. India has more than 25 million cases pending in all courts, across the country, many of which are due to limitations of the legal community to give ample time by using manual methods of legal reference. Encouraging the use of AI for legal research could bridge this gap feels Srivastava.

“ India will be at the center stage of the AI revolution with more and more companies building the depth in the domain,’ he said.

Who’s Gonna Pay Your Legal Fees?

Who’s Gonna Pay Your Legal Fees?
When writing contracts, follow these tips for determining who should be responsible for legal fees.

It’s a big enough shock to entrepreneurs when a business contract “goes bad” or a customer refuses to pay. But it’s a much bigger shock when business owners learn that in most cases, they have to dig into their own pockets to pay their legal fees when they go to court.

The reason for this seemingly unfair trap is something called “the American Rule.” In its simplest form, the rule states that in the United States, each side to a civil lawsuit is only obligated to pay the cost of their own attorney. The result is that even if you win your lawsuit or collection case, you may never come out “whole” from a financial standpoint. That’s because any recovery you may obtain in court will be reduced by the amount you have to spend to cover your legal fees.

Oh, but wait, you may say, I’ll just have my lawyer handle my collection case on a contingent-fee basis (which means your lawyer will receive no fee unless there’s a recovery obtained). Good thinking, but even that won’t make you whole. Assuming you’re able to find a lawyer who’ll take your case on a contingent basis, the contingent fee is typically based on a percentage–anywhere from 15 to even 50 percent–of the recovery. So for every dollar your lawyer collects, you’ll still only receive a net amount of anywhere from 50 to 85 cents.

The good news is, there’s a way to legally reverse the American Rule in many instances, and that’s through adding a “legal fees clause” to all your business contracts. A legal fees clause requires that the court award the payment of legal fees if a contractual dispute or collection matter ends up in court.

There are at least two “typical” legal fees clauses that every business owner should be aware of:

Legal Fees Clause #1: the “Customer Pays Legal Fees” clause. The first version of the legal fees clause can read something like this:

“If the Customer breaches or attempts to breach any of the terms of this Contract or fails to make any payments when due under this Contract, the Customer shall pay to Company as part of a judgment all of the Company’s costs and expenses, including reasonable legal fees, incurred by the Company in enforcing the terms of this Contract or collecting any payment due under this Contract.”

If this Clause sound pretty one-sided, you’re right. It is one-sided.

But this type of legal fees clause can be very common in contracts and agreements with banks, insurance companies and credit card companies. In other words, if one party, such as a bank, has a very high leverage position and won’t permit any changes to their “standard agreements,” then it’s certainly possible this type of one-sided clause will be in the contract.

Legal Fees Clause #2: the “Loser Pays Legal Fees” clause. Fear not. You don’t have to be a behemoth bank in order to add a legal fees clause to your contracts. There’s a more equitable and practical clause that can read something like this:

“If either party to this Contract breaches or attempts to breach any of the terms hereof or if either party fails to make any payments when due under this Contract, that party shall pay to the non-defaulting party as part of a judgment all of the non-defaulting party’s costs and expenses, including reasonable legal fees, incurred by that party in enforcing the terms of this Agreement or collecting any payment due under this Contract.”

In other words, the losing party to the contract will not only be required to pay for any damages under the contract, it will be required to pay the other side’s legal fees as well.

By the way, the key to making the “Loser Pays Legal Fees” clause effective for your business is to be sure your company isn’t the losing party!
Benefits And Caveats

As you can see, there are many advantages to adding a legal fees clause to your contracts. It gives you the opportunity to be made financially whole if you have to go to court to enforce a contract or to collect money. It also gives the other side more incentive to pay or to negotiate a fair settlement rather than go to court. Finally, it may help inoculate your business from the disease of “lawsuitphobia” which can strike a business when it believes that it will cost more to go to court than it’s worth.

As in all things involving the law, there are a few thorns among the roses that you need to aware of in the area of legal fees clauses.

Not all states under all circumstances will allow your contract to defeat the American Rule, so you’ll need to check with a lawyer in your state for advice. Another point to keep in mind is that courts often require that the amount of the legal fees be “reasonable,” which can mean that the court could award your business less money than you actually spent on your legal fees.

Finally, and perhaps most important, please remember that while having a legal fees clause in your business contracts can be very beneficial, it’s no substitute for using good business judgment when negotiating an agreement or extending credit to a customer. If you find out that the other party or customer doesn’t have any money or assets, then having one more turbocharged clause in your contract won’t put a single penny in your bank account.

The Top 7 Legal Documents for Every Startup

The Top 7 Legal Documents for Every Startup

What is the most common mistake startup founders make during early growth? Not establishing a strong legal structure off the bat. While it’s tempting to dig into the vision for your company and start making your idea a reality, it’s important that founders pause and cover their legal bases. Below, we’ve outlined the core seven legal documents that founders need to put into place to avoid costly legal battles down the road.
1. Articles of Incorporation

A common mistake startup founders make is failing to put the proper business structure in place. Setting up only a sole proprietorship can result in huge income tax bills and legal liabilities for which founders are personally responsible. By not filing with the Internal Revenue Service to form a distinct legal entity for their business, founders risk losing their personal savings and, in some extreme cases, their homes.

While all options have their pros and cons, for the most part, startups with multiple shareholders should form a C corporation. Businesses that want fewer tax obligations and want to avoid heavier fees during early growth should consider forming a limited liability company (LLC).

2. Intellectual Property (IP) Assignment Agreement

An IP assignment agreement could be the key legal document that determines whether your startup can attract the investments it needs in order to grow. This is especially true for technology companies, because it’s often the value of your IP portfolio that investors and venture capital firms are evaluating.

Startup founders should have complete ownership of all IP assets in writing to avoid costly claims filed by patent trolls and companies trying to copy your business model, among others. During the formation of a new company, a best practice is to assign all relevant intellectual property to the company. There are two types of IP assignment agreements to consider:

Technology Assignment Agreements assign startups any intellectual property created before forming the company. Developers may in certain instances retain individual IP ownership rights, or they may sell their rights in exchange for equity or cash.
Invention Assignment Agreements assign the new company IP ownership of any relevant work product created by employees after the company’s formation. A confidentiality and invention assignment agreement is typically signed by founder(s) and employees. The company will own all rights to the IP portfolio.

3. Bylaws

In order to ensure that a startup operates with as little complications as possible, founders should formulate strong bylaws off the bat. Bylaws should establish the internal rules of the company like how to settle disputes, select leadership and determine the rights and powers of shareholders. Most importantly, bylaws should institute voting thresholds for approvals to certain actions by the corporation like electing new board members or entering into debt.
4. Operating Agreement (Founder’s Agreement)

To avoid any conflict among founding parties, all co-founders should sign a comprehensive operating agreement. The agreement should define the relationship of the founders, provide the expectation that all work will belong to some entity in the future and outline a basic communication and conflict-resolution clause that can help prevent disputes.

5. Non-Disclosure Agreements

Having a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) readily available is imperative before any business conversations take place between you and an outside party. From the moment a prospective employee or investor walks through your door, you need to have an NDA agreement waiting for them to sign. NDAs protect your startup by safeguarding your founder and employees’ ideas and your intellectual property. An NDA should specify the following:

What constitutes confidential information
How confidential information should be handled
Who owns that information (the company)
The time period that the information will be disclosed
The time period confidentiality will be maintained

6. Employee Contracts and Offer Letters

Startup CEOs and founders should draw up clear employment contracts and offer letters when hiring new employees. These legal documents are key to ensure employees understand what’s expected of them. They should clearly state the following.

Terms of employment (e.g., compensation, role responsibilities, working hours and grounds for termination)
Reporting structure
IP ownership of work
Expectations
Required commitments
Share vesting
Company policies (e.g., vacation days, paid time off structure, dress code)

7. Shareholder Agreements

Finally, when a startup is ready to take on private investments, CEOs should create a shareholder agreement that determines the rights of shareholders and defines when they can exercise those rights. Those rights can include shareholders’ right to transfer shares, right of first refusal, redemption upon death or disability and shareholders’ power to manage and run the startup. It’s also important that founders document the sale of any shares to avoid huge financial penalties under state and federal laws.

While time is a precious resource for any startup, founders should prioritize putting these agreements into place to secure their company’s future.

The 7 Legal Rules Your Emails Must Follow

The 7 Legal Rules Your Emails Must Follow
When sending marketing emails, make sure you adhere to these seven guidelines so you don’t end up on the wrong side of the law.

As an email marketer, you need to comply with laws that were put in place to protect consumers. While it might be tempting to buy a list of email addresses and just start sending messages to everyone on that list, this is a bad idea for a few reasons. First, you might be breaking the law. Second, you might be hurting your chances of your future email marketing messages getting into people’s email inboxes, including inboxes belonging to your own customers. The bottom line is, your actions as an email marketer can affect the deliverability of your email today and in the future.

The most important law you need to know and follow in the United States is the CAN- SPAM Act of 2003. This law applies to all forms of commercial email messages and not just commercial email messages sent in bulk to lists of people. What makes a message commercial? It’s not clearly defined in the Act, but it’s probably broader than you think. For example, a commercial message doesn’t have to promote a product or service directly to messages as be considered commercial. Even messages that promote content “any electronic on a commercial website — such as a blog post, free ebook, mail message, educational article or tutorial — would be considered commercial since they indirectly promote the company.

The cost for noncompliance can be very high, particularly since you can be charged penalties for each separate email violation up to $40,654. Furthermore, if your email messages violate other laws, such as those related to deceptive advertising, you could face even more fines or criminal penalties, including imprisonment.

There are seven primary requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act. Following is a basic explanation of each of the main requirements. If you always err on the side of caution and assume messages sent from your company are commercial advertisements or promotions (even if they’re not directly advertising or promoting a product or service), then you should be safe.

Header information. The header information in your messages must not be false or misleading. This includes the information in the message’s “From,” “To,” and “Reply To” fields as well as the routing information. In other words, your messages should accurately identify both the person and business that initiated the message. Furthermore, the header information should include the originating domain (which is typically your business’ web domain) and real email address.

Subject line. The subject line of your email messages must reflect the true content of the message. Don’t try to conceal what the message is about with a clever subject line. Instead, the subject line should clearly explain what the recipient will get when they open the message. Both inaccurate and vague subject lines could get you in trouble.

Ad disclosure. You must identify that the message is an ad or promotional in nature. The good news is that the CAN-SPAM Act provides a great deal of flexibility in terms of how you disclose this information. The most important thing to understand is that somewhere in your message, you must conspicuously explain that your message is promotional (even if it’s indirectly promotional) or an advertisement. Leave no room for confusion here.

Location. You must include your physical address in your messages. This has to be your valid postal address, which means it can be your street address or a post office box registered with the U.S. Postal Service. It could also be a private mailbox that you registered with a commercial mail receiving agency, but make sure that agency was established under postal service regulations or it won’t meet the requirements of the CAN-SPAM Act.

Unsubscribe option. Your messages must include an easy and obvious way to unsubscribe if recipients want to opt out of receiving email messages from you in the future. You cannot create conditions to opt out, such as requiring a person to pay a fee or provide any personally identifiable information aside from an email address. Furthermore, the opt-out process must not require a person to do more than send a reply email message or visit one web page. If you send multiple types of messages (e.g., newsletters, product updates and so on), you can offer a way for people to choose which types of email messages they want to opt out of receiving from you. However, you must also provide a way for them to opt out of receiving all messages from you.

Opt-out completion. After you send a message, recipients must have 30 days to unsubscribe. If someone unsubscribes, you must honor that request within 10 business days. Once a person unsubscribes, you’re not allowed to transfer or sell that person’s email address (individually or as part of a list) to anyone else (unless the company you’re transferring the list to is helping you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act).

Third parties. If you hire another person or company to manage your email marketing, you’re still responsible for complying with the CAN-SPAM Act. In fact, both you and the person or company handling your email marketing are responsible and could get in trouble if the law isn’t followed. Therefore, make sure anyone you work with knows the laws and complies with them. You’ll need to monitor their activities for compliance on an ongoing basis.

Nine Common Legal Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

Nine Common Legal Mistakes Small Business Owners Make

You’re reading Entrepreneur Middle East, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.

Entrepreneurs are passionate, busy people. They are focused on many things, probably the most important being marketing their products or services and spreading their brands.

In the haste to get the businesses off the ground, they focus on everything but the legal considerations of operating a business. And these are the very things that can bring them down. Don’t let this happen to you.

I’m a lawyer and have my own experiences about the legal oversights businesses often make that set them up for failure but I wanted to hear from other lawyers what common legal mistakes they’ve seen businesses make, so I reached out to them to ask. Here are the 9 legal mistakes you should avoid, as shared by 9 veteran lawyers.

1. Not using an attorney

“A lot of solopreneurs and partnerships mistakenly believe that they do not have the same legal obligations that bigger enterprises have. They believe that legal issues will only arise as they scale, and they can always bring in an attorney later one. This is a huge mistake and one that can cost you your company, if not buckets of money. Get a lawyer before you launch, and let him/her get you set up correctly from the beginning.” – Ramzy Ladah, CEO of Ladah Law.

2. Failing to set up the right business structure

“There are sole proprietorships, LLCs, S corporations, partnerships, and corporations. Choosing the right one means understanding the benefits and drawbacks of each. For example, if you set yourself up as a sole proprietor, you must understand that you and your business are considered “one” in the legal system. All of your personal assets are at risk if your business should be sued.” – Nathan Dineen, CEO of DUI Defense WI.

3. Not having terms and conditions policies to which customers agree to be bound

“When you access company websites, especially those that provide services of some sort, you will generally see a “Terms and Conditions” agreement. In this agreement, are all of the specifics for use of your products or services and customer obligations in that use. If you do not have this policy in writing and published and a “check box” for a customer to select before a purchase, then you have left yourself wide open to a inclusion in a lawsuit if that customer becomes a defendant.” – Jim Butler, CEO of The Houston DWI Lawyer.

4. Failure to have a privacy policy

“This is a matter of law now. Any business that markets its wares must have a privacy policy that explains what customer information it does and does not share. For example, if you share your customer list and emails with another company, your customers have the legal right to know. Your privacy policy must be publicly disseminated.” – Jerry J. Trevino, CEO of Mr. Personal Injury Lawyer.

5. Failure to follow business tax laws

“Is your business subject to sales/VAT taxes? When must you file your business income tax returns? Do you need to make quarterly payments? Tax law is complicated no matter where our business is located. You need to obtain the services of a good business accountant or, at the very least, have accounting software that keeps your records and files your taxes when required.” – Cha’Ron Ballard-Gayle, CEO of Carson Firm.

6. Inappropriate/incomplete contracts with outside vendors

“When you use the services or purchase raw materials from someone outside of our business, you need iron-clad contracts. When you are either an owner or a tenant of your premises, you need legal documents that establish the “rules” for occupancy. Never enter into an agreement with an “outsider” without a legally-binding agreement. A good attorney can draft those contract templates for you – don’t rely on free Internet sites.” – Tina Gehres, CEO of Gehres Law.

7. Failure to get the proper documentation on employees

“Federal laws require that you have copies of certain documents on file for every employee. If you fail to do this and are caught, you can actually face the shutting down of your business, and, in some instances, jail time.” – Rick Harris, CEO of Richard Harris Law.

8. Failure to get nondisclosure and non-compete agreements

“You have proprietary information that belongs to your company – customer lists or special “formulas,” for example. Anyone who works for you and who has access to this valuable information must be legally bound by these agreements. Take Kentucky Fried Chicken as an example. The recipe is a highly-guarded secret. Anyone with access to this recipe must sign a non-disclosure agreement which legally binds them never to reveal that recipe. The same goes for customer/client lists or setting up a competing business. Insurance companies, for example, usually make their employed agents sign a non-compete which prevents them from leaving and stealing clients.” – Greg Stokes, CEO of Stokes injury Lawyers.

9. Not getting copyrights, patents, and trademarks

You will have no leg to stand on if another party “steals” you name, copies your product or intellectual property verbatim, unless you have protected these things. There is a difference in laws regarding physical products, code, and ideas, and you need to know which protection to use for each thing. Technology companies are particularly vulnerable today. Know the law and protect your stuff.” – Jeremy Litster, CEO of Litster Frost.

What are the Legal Issues That Stare at Augmented/Virtual Reality?

What are the Legal Issues That Stare at Augmented/Virtual Reality?
VR/AR presents many challenges to the existing doctrines and policies which need to be examined closely to adapt to changing times

In 2016, a major sensation prevailed in the world with the release of Pokemon GO, an augmented reality application wherein people could catch, train and fight other Pokemon which are perceived only by them. Though the game was a major hit for the most part of 2017 too, what is less known is the fact that the AR game also led to numerous thefts, robberies, assaults, driving offences and accidents. As the name ‘virtual reality’ suggests, the simulation of reality in the virtual world is accompanied by a host of complex legal problems, which keep increasing as the technology integrates with the daily lives of the individuals.

Pokemon GO was only the first successful exposure to the technology of Augmented Reality which allowed digital content to merge with the real world. However, it is certainly not the last of its genre. AR and VR continue to expand at a breakneck pace and it won’t be long before the amount of virtual exposure would exceed real exposure. While the use of AR/VR in daily use eases our lives to a great extent, they also present a range of classic legal questions unsolved. Recent reports indicate that users of AR/VR technologies have used it to commit murders, defraud others and even injure themselves.

AR/VR Legal Scene Globally

The settled dispute between Facebook and game maker ZeniMax requiring Facebook to pay USD 500 million in damages for ‘stealing the source code’ is just one of the many examples of the potential for infringements that VR/AR possesses. While protection of trade secrets is just one part of the problem, what is really important to consider is the impact it could make on consumers. Last year, two perpetrators were convicted for engaging in illegal betting on a FIFA VR game referred as FUT Galaxy. In 2013, an English VR gamer was caught for stealing virtual property which apparently possessed huge value in a virtual game called ‘RuneScape’, by hacking into profiles of other gamers. These cases become more interesting since there does not exist any laws governing in-game virtual reality actions and therefore leave consumers without any redress. What legal issues really arise through the use of AR/VR? Some of them are given below-

1. Intellectual Property Rights

The use of intellectual property in the virtual world could be one the major causes of concern for owners of such IP rights. For instance, in a renowned VR game called ‘Second Life’, players can visit a number of public places and use merchandise which could violate trademarks and copyrights of various brands existing in the real world. In fact, VR systems allow users to virtually import photographs, music, brand names and otherwise IP protected material into their virtual experiences without obtaining necessary permissions from the owner of such intellectual property. Furthermore, there are several jurisdictional problems while enforcing claims against such VR users, since VR users log in from several countries whose IP laws may differ widely from one to another. The extent of potential intellectual property infringement is remarkable since VR creators can create a whole virtual world comprising of images, virtual property and other contents through the VR system.

On account of deeply personal nature of VR experiences and the creation of identity in the alternate world, there might be a need in future for IP laws to rebalance the assignment of the separate VR platforms or users’ IP rights.

For instance, while incorporating photographs, music, names of the brand or their logos, traditional IP laws stipulate obtaining permission from the owner regarding applicable rights. However, in several jurisdictions across the world (such as US, India and several other nations), use of trademarks ‘in commerce’ is an essential ingredient to constitute trademark infringement. Thus, the user using a logo in VR may escape liability by claiming ‘no commerce’ exception under trademark laws. Similar problems arise with the ‘fair use’ exception under copyright laws of several jurisdictions, wherein there could be an infringement of original works through derivative works on VR platforms.

2. Virtual Crimes

The psychological effects of immersion in virtual reality experiences can lead to ethical challenges and criminal issues in assessing virtual crimes. Research indicates that VR can lead to particular kinds of emotions and result in sufferings since VR experiences may seem real to users even though they are being done in a virtual environment. Such crimes include virtual groping, cyber assault, stealing of virtual property, illegal betting with virtual money, identity theft, strobe lighting and mere indecent exposure such as nudity, orgy etc.

Though one need not necessarily worry about being murdered or raped in virtual space, the absence of actual consequences of engaging in such acts could result in more people opting for it. Further, there are also associated psychological issues when individuals are continuously devoid of law and order and could lead to actual disorder in real life. For instance, for a female VR player to be groped virtually is the same as being groped in real life, due to severe psychological trauma inflicted upon her. It might even get worse in future with body suit technology developing to a point where AR/VR users could actually feel kicks/punches or touch that they incur in the virtual world.

3. Virtual Privacy

The issue of privacy is one of deep importance and possesses immense weight in combating virtual privacy violations. Currently, there exist data protection norms in approximately all Asian countries which are equally applicable to VR/AR hardware, software and content providers so as to ensure they remain compliant with these laws. However, many VR gaming platforms store and process substantial amounts of personal data of its users in furtherance of their advertising and business models. For instance, the amount of reaction time by the user can be used as health data and sold to interested entities. Users’ may also share details pertaining to their location, age, race, preferences etc. which form their digital footprint and can be used in their identification in real life. Unfortunately, privacy regulations today are not mature enough to deal with such issues.

Remarkably, privacy invasion in virtual reality is highly discussed amongst the researchers. Joshua Kopstein from the Intercept in a discussion argues that corporations and governments will get unprecedented power by tracking emotions, expressions and physical behaviour. Some jurisdictions have, however, been vigilant to ensure proper accountability is maintained, with a US Senator asking Facebook for data accountability obtained through use of its VR headset Oculus. But claims to VR privacy violations by these companies are still far-fetched since users’ normally consent to terms and conditions before using such devices which give such companies a legitimate right to collect, share and use such data.

What Must Be Done, Then?

VR is an emerging field of technology which makes any legislative attempt to regulate it wary to several errors. Further, it must be kept in mind that a legislation vigorously protective in nature could also stifle with the evolution of technology. In such a circumstance, self-regulation by VR companies themselves by adhering to ethical and legally sound policies may be the best solution currently available.

In case of privacy regulation, a proactive approach by governments of various jurisdictions could be instrumental in setting the limits on the type of personal data that can be collected, the extent of it and ways in which it can be used. A wider interpretation of informational privacy is also necessary by the judicial systems, which will facilitate further privacy regulations.

In case of tortious claims, intellectual property violations and criminal laws, an overarching regulation has the possibility of undermining the attractiveness of VR. The extent of these violations is so vast that it is unclear to what extent novel issues can emerge. In such a circumstance, the ‘wait-and-see’ approach could be adopted and issues be resolved on a case by case basis. Though it is unclear where the technology is heading so far to measure and determine the extent of practical solutions possible, some crucial points to be noted are given below-

Defining Liabilities IP holders must state specifically in the contract arrangement with VR content creators the ownership and liability arising in case of breach/unfair use of intellectual property rights/other rights.
SelfRegulation- Selfregulation provides scope for VR content providers to frame industryfriendly policies and participate actively in lawmaking process in VR sector. Hence, they must take proactive steps in formulating legally and ethically sound strategies in dealing with infringement claims.
Fair use standard The development of VR in coming years will likely see more cases of violation of ‘fair use standard’. Hence, corporations and governments must come together to formulate industryspecific standards for fair use doctrine.

There is no doubt that legislation must always be anticipative of innovation and must not precede it. VR/AR presents many challenges to the existing doctrines and policies which need to be examined closely to adapt to changing times. The visceral nature of virtual/augmented reality will present notable roadblocks and question the fundamental norms of freedom and harm in the real and virtual world. We must, therefore, be ready to tackle them.