Free, Open-Source, and Possibly Risky

177229229Once an exception, the use of free and open-source software (FOSS) in commercial software products has become the rule. FOSS is particularly attractive to resource-strapped companies looking to avoid high software development costs or licensing fees, but even the biggies in the tech industry use FOSS. Despite its common use, FOSS carries risks and you need to do your due diligence.

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Employee Poaching

477986347Poaching employees from a rival company has risks. So does agreeing with your rivals not to poach employees from each other. Potential poachers beware… Continue reading

Illegal Contracts Are Enforceable. Sometimes.

464803599The following is a guest blog by Alan M. Goldberg of the Law Office of Alan Goldberg. Alan’s practice includes Appeals, Civil Trials, and Family Law. You can follow Alan on Twitter @AlanMGoldberg.

We learn in law school that illegal contracts aren’t enforceable. But that’s not precisely true. Some illegal contracts may be enforced, depending on the “realities of the situation.” Continue reading

Protecting Company Secrets: Checklist for Making a Plan

186300420If you represent businesses, you know how important it is to protect their trade secrets. A crucial part of that effort is developing and implementing a trade secret protection plan. Specific company needs may vary, and plans have to be crafted with those needs in mind, but some elements should be included in any trade secret protection plan. Continue reading

Bing Crosby’s Estate Wins Publicity Rights Following Fred Astaire’s Footsteps

Bing_Crosby_in_Road_to_Singapore_trailerWhat do Bela Lugosi, Fred Astaire, and now Bing Crosby have in common? Astaire and Crosby appeared together in the film Holiday Inn, but all three have shaped the law on a deceased personality’s right of publicity. Continue reading

How Far Can a Company Go to Protect Its Online Reputation?

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Updated 4/24/14: On April 22, 2014, the California Assembly Judiciary Committee approved AB 2365, put forward by Assemblyman John A. Perez (D-Los Angeles), which would make non-disparagement clauses in contracts for sale or lease of consumer goods or services unlawful unless the clause is knowingly, voluntarily, and intelligently waived by the consumer. Perez authored the bill after learning about the KlearGear case. The bill is next set to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.

The following is a guest blog post by Harmony Groves Kessler, a solo practitioner assisting individuals, small businesses, and attorneys with legal issues in business contracts/transactions public agency law and family law in northern California. She is the former Mayor of Arcata, California, where she served a four-year term on the City Council.

In today’s world, especially with sources like Yelp, it’s simple to find online reviews of most any company. We often rely on posted comments to get a sense of a business and feel justified to warn other customers when we’ve had a bad experience. Companies are increasing their efforts to monitor their online reputation and keep critical reviews from driving business away. But is punishing a customer for a bad review with a large fine going too far? Continue reading

Toymaker Clashes with Beastie Boys Over Fair Use

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The following is a guest blog post by Harmony Groves Kessler, a solo practitioner assisting individuals, small businesses, and attorneys with legal issues in criminal defense, business contracts/transactions and public agency law in northern California. She is the former Mayor of Arcata, California, where she served a four-year term on the City Council.

Updated March 18, 2014: The Beastie Boys and GoldieBlox have settled the suit. As part of the settlement, GoldieBlox will no longer be able to use its parody of the Beastie Boys’ song and will publish an apology to the band.

Updated January 3, 2014: Although GoldieBlox removed the song “Girls” from its video, the Beastie Boys sued GoldieBlox for copyright and trademark infringement, among other claims, seeking an injunction, damages, and lost profits based on the toy’s massive increase in sales, which they believe are the direct result of the video.

A creative rewrite of the Beastie Boys’ iconic song “Girls” recently stirred up trouble for a toymaker with good intentions. Continue reading

Don’t Inadvertently Work for Free!

178831391The following is a guest blog post by bankruptcy attorney Michael Gouveia, who spoke at the 2013 Annual State Bar Meeting on the New Attorney Guide to Competency. He invites you to visit his popular bankruptcy blog.

This sweet young couple is sitting across from you in your office. You’ve spent a half an hour counseling them on filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. The wife then asks, “We need to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy this week, but we don’t have your full attorney fee. Can we give you a little up front and the rest of your fee after we file?” This is the time to start backing away. Continue reading

New Law for California LLCs

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A new law coming into effect in California on January 1, 2014  will govern the formation and operation of all limited liability companies (LLCs) in this state. It’s out with the old and in with the new! Continue reading

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