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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.

What are the elements of a contract?

As a Florida resident, you are party to numerous contracts whether you realize it or not. Everything you buy is the result of a contract between you and the seller. Every time you use your credit card to pay for a purchase you do so in accordance with the contract between yourself and your credit card provider. If married, your marriage is itself a contract between you and your spouse.

As the Judicial Education Center explains, every contract contains the following four elements

  1. Offer
  2. Consideration
  3. Acceptance
  4. Mutuality

What is a business injunction?

Many Florida residents associate restraining orders with the need to protect a person from physical harm by a partner or stalker. It is less commonly known that restraining orders can also be served for business purposes. Whether your company is served a restraining order by a government agency or the public, or you file an injunction against another company to protect your business, it is important for you and other business owners to understand what exactly business injunctions and restraining orders entail.

According to the Houston Chronicle, a business injunction is a legal order that enables another entity to take an action or to order a company or individual to refrain from certain activities. Additionally, business owners, individuals or agencies can seek temporary restraining orders from the court to provide immediate protection while further evidence is gathered. The following examples are some situations that you might encounter while doing business:

  • An environmental group suspects a company of illegally polluting a water source and seeks a temporary restraining order to halt the company’s operations until an investigation can be conducted.
  • A small business owner discovers a competitor is committing copyright infringement and gets an injunction to order to get the other company to stop using the copyright.
  • A company seeks an injunction against a larger corporation to delay or prevent a hostile takeover.

A primer on patents

Whether you have a groundbreaking idea that still needs to be developed or your business team is creating new technology or medication to benefit consumers, you will need to protect your product, invention or idea from competitors who might take credit for your hard work. At the Law Offices of Levi Williams, P.A., we are prepared to answer the questions of Florida inventors and businesspeople regarding patents.

What is a patent? According to FindLaw, patents protect products, ideas and inventions from infringement by those who are unauthorized to work on or have access to them during development or production. If, for example, you obtain a patent for a new type of software, others will be prohibited from manufacturing, using or selling the same techniques or designs that are exclusively yours under the terms of the patent. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office grants three different types of patents, which include the following:

  • Utility – covers new processes, chemicals or machines, and is the most commonly granted patent
  • Plant – for the development and asexual reproduction of new, distinct varieties of plants
  • Design – includes the unique design or appearance of objects that are manufactured

What is workers’ compensation retaliation?

As a Florida business owner, you do your best to ensure your employees are happy and treated fairly. One of the benefits employees can utilize when necessary, as you know, is workers’ compensation. Workers’ comp benefits you by preventing an employee from suing you after a job-related injury. However, your insurance premiums are likely to increase when members of your staff are hurt on the job.

It comes as no surprise that most employers want to avoid workers’ compensation claims, as FindLaw explains. There are many acceptable ways you can keep your workers’ comp claims to a minimum, such as providing training and the proper safety equipment for your employees and addressing workplace hazards. You might also instill a reasonable reward system when your employees meet safety standards and go a certain amount of time without any workplace injuries.

Not just college: workplace hazing is a real issue

If you think you left bullying and hazing behind in high school and college, think again. Many people never grow out of that bullying mentality. At the Law Offices of Levi Williams, P.A., we understand that bullying in the workplace not only affects the productivity and morale of employees, it can also present legal problems for Florida business owners.

For these reasons, many businesses have enacted anti-hazing policies. Many people associate hazing as the kind of thing that happens when college students join fraternities or sports teams. However, it can also happen at your company, especially when someone is a new hire. As LinkedIn explains, corporate hazing can involve a range of behaviors that make the targets feel embarrassed, harassed or threatened. These may include emotional, sexual and physical harassment, as well as coercion and even blackmailing.

The basics of S corporations

When Florida residents decide to start a business, they have many choices to make about their new company's legal status. One of the statuses people can choose is called an S corporation. Before people set up this kind of corporation, it is important to understand what it is and how it may be beneficial for business owners.

An S corporation is a domestic company that is not taxed at the corporate level. According to the Internal Revenue Service, the business owner and shareholders both use their personal tax returns to report credits, losses and income. People usually need to submit paperwork to the IRS in order for their company to become an S corporation, and the shareholders typically need to sign these papers. To receive this status, a business generally needs to meet the qualifications. Most of the time, a company needs to be based in the US and have 100 shareholders at most. Additionally, the business may need to have a single class of stock. Shareholders may also be limited to particular types of estates and trusts and private individuals.

Understanding fair use law

We at the Law Offices of Levi Williams, P.A., have discussed copyright law numerous times in this blog. However, you and other Florida business owners may wonder how fair use applies to copyrighted work. It is important to understand this complex and often confusing aspect of business law, since you might become involved in a business dispute even for unwittingly violating someone else’s copyright.

As you may be aware, copyrighted work is generally protected from people publishing or using it without the owner’s permission. An artist, author, photographer or other copyright owner could sue you for publishing or printing his or her work without seeking permission. However, according to FindLaw, there are some instances that allow you and others to use parts of copyrighted work without getting permission. Fair use law allows the use or reprinting of portions of copyrighted work for the purposes of news reporting, comment, criticism, research, education and parody. For example, a professor might print copies of a study for use in the classroom.

What is a hostile acquisition?

If you have an ownership interest in a Florida corporation, you want to protect that interest and receive the maximum financial benefits to which you are entitled. But what if another company wants to buy your company? Is that in your best interests despite whatever reservations your corporation’s board of directors may have?

As the Corporate Finance Institute explains, a hostile acquisition, a/k/a hostile takeover, occurs when another company attempts to buy your corporation, but your board of directors rejects the bid offer. If the company still wishes to buy your corporation, it can attempt to do so by coming directly to you and the other shareholders with a tender offer or proxy vote strategy so as to bypass your corporation’s board of directors.

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