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Common business contract disputes

Whenever there is a contract, there is the possibility the terms can be breached. However, as you and other Florida business owners know, it simply isn’t possible – or wise – to create and grow your business in today’s climate without contracts. At the Law Offices of Levi Williams, P.A., we are aware that contract disputes are common for business owners to encounter. One of the keys in successfully avoiding or resolving business disputes is in creating strong and fair contracts.

As FindLaw explains, many contract disputes boil down to a breach of contract. As you might expect, a weak, unfair or poorly worded contract has a higher probability of being breached. The following points illustrate some of the most common types of business contract disputes:

  • One or both parties failing to meet a contractual obligation in a timely or correct manner, as outlined by the contract
  • A breach in the agreement regarding the sale or purchase of goods or services
  • Disputes brought by consumers when the company fails to meet contractual obligations guaranteed to the customer
  • A breach in a non-disclosure agreement or other employment contract disputes

Boot manufacturers take patent dispute to court

When a particular product is popular in Florida, or elsewhere in the country, other manufacturers may try to copy it in an attempt to capitalize on another's success. If the copy is too close, however, it can result in an intellectual property dispute. Such a dispute recently arose between rival boot manufacturers in a case that went to trial over the summer.

Deckers Outdoor Corporation, owners of the popular UGG boot brand, brought a lawsuit against Romeo & Juliette, a competing company with a history of manufacturing boots that Deckers alleges infringe upon their intellectual property. Because copyright law does not protect certain aspects of fashion items, such as the silhouette and shape, the recent lawsuit claimed that R&J's boot styles violated Deckers design patent.

Know the basics of C corporations

When Florida residents start a business, one decision they need to make is what kind of business they will form. Some people may be drawn to the benefits of C corporations and it is important for them to understand the details of this legal structure.

There are many reasons a C corporation is an attractive option for business owners. According to FindLaw, people typically choose this kind of corporation because it is easy to form. While some legal structures request that businesses meet certain requirements, C corporations do not require companies to meet certain criteria. They also offer protection so a business owner is not personally liable for the company.

What are the signs of a friendly merger?

When one company buys another company in Florida, it sometimes is hostile. These are the mergers we so often hear about because they often involve litigation and drama that piques people's interest. However, many times when two companies become one, it is an amicable situation. This, according to Dummies.com, is called a friendly merger.

In a hostile takeover, one company forces the other company to sell out. The company being taken over is not happy. They do not work with the other company. There are many disagreements. People usually lose their jobs.

Rates of sexual harassment against men on the rise

While sexual harassment is generally thought of as a man harassing a woman, the roles may be reversed. Men are victims of sexual harassment as well. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, incidents of men being harassed by women in the workplace are on the rise. In 2014, 17.5 percent of sexual harassment charges were filed by men, which is a dramatic increase from the 11 percent that was reported in 1997. These numbers are thought to be underrepresented of the number of sexual harassment cases against men that actually occur, as a number of men do not want to report the case for fear of embarrassment or retaliation.

Sexual harassment involves any type of unwanted or unwelcomed advance, whether it is physical or verbal. This may include a back massage, hug, grab or an invitation to engage in a sexual act. In some cases, a person may be threatened that if they do not comply with the harassment, they will not advance in their job or may lose their position altogether.

Do you need to register your trademark?

When starting up a new business, you may have designed a logo, slogan or catch-phrase that designates your business and makes it unique from other businesses. While you are not required to register your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, there are benefits to doing so. If you do not protect your trademark, other businesses and/or brands can use your mark, or something quite similar, which may confuse your customers and lead to you losing money and business in the long run.

Before you register your trademark, you must make sure it is not being used by another company. You can go online and conduct a search to ensure your mark is truly unique. Otherwise, you may be accused of trademark infringement.

Florida COO fired for sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is certainly taboo at the workplace. This is especially true today, where the media is filled with reports of women and men being sexually harassed by people at work. Employers are responsible for providing a work environment safe from harassment of any type. When workers are asked to perform sexual acts in order to advance in the company or forced to put up with unwelcomed comments, they may decide to pursue legal action as a way to combat the behavior.

This is what happened with a Foxtail coffee employee in Central Florida. The woman reported incidents of sexual harassment stemming from the chief operating officer of the company and said that she was fired from the company after making a complaint. Although specific information regarding what type of sexual harassment was conducted by the company’s high management, the COO was forced to resign after the allegations were made. Once the public became aware of the harassment, threats to boycott the coffeehouse were made. Foxtail released a statement ensuring customers that this type of behavior was unacceptable, and that proper action was taken to ensure the end to the harassment.

What are some of the basics of handling contract disputes?

As a business owner in Florida, or someone in the upper levels of management, you will likely be dealing with plenty of contracts. Independent workers will often have to handle these as well. The Law Offices of Levi Williams, P.A., is here to help you if you ever run into litigation issues revolving around contract disputes.

One of the best things that you can do to avoid a contract dispute is to have a solid contract in the first place. This means ensuring that it's well-written, easily understood by all parties involved, and lacks any vague wording or areas that could potentially cause misunderstandings or create loopholes.

What are some deceptive trade practices?

Floridian residents should be aware of deceptive trade practices. What are they? How do they impact you? Is there anything that can be done if you have fallen victim to deceptive trade practices? What if you find out that a company you work for is employing these tactics?

FindLaw looks into the details of deceptive trade practices, which differ from the run-of-the-mill advertisements that may have some exaggerations. Despite what some may think, grandiose claims about services or products are technically not considered to be deceptive as long as the claims aren't false. So what would be considered a deceptive practice, then?

What to include in an employment contract

As many business owners across Florida will likely attest, hiring solid, trustworthy professionals to work for you is one of the hardest parts of owning your own company. Even employees who excelled and stood out during their interviews can sometimes end up causing you and your business unnecessary hardship down the line, but you can mitigate the risk of this happening to a large extent by creating a solid employment contract. Attorney Levi Williams recognizes that well-crafted employment contracts can save you considerable time and money down the line, and he has helped many Florida business owners draft contracts that meet their unique needs.

According to Inc., the best employment contracts protect the employer as well as the employee, and they can be an essential tool in helping you attract – and hang on – to top talent. While the language in one employment contract will undoubtedly vary broadly from that within the next, there are certain elements most employment contracts ought to include.

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