In most cases, lawsuits and claims come as a surprise to a business owner. Most of the business owners, especially the small business owners are never really aware of the legal consequences of a lawsuit. It is important to be aware of potential liabilities and to know how you can minimize them before you find out how costly they are to defend. At the same time, you should not personally deal with legal issues. It is almost always advisable to consult with legal counsel instead of trying to handle your own legal defense. Below are different types of lawsuits your business should avoid and how you can avoid them.
Infringement in simplest terms is where you use someone else’s work without consent. Copyright protects original works of authorship: blog posts, writings, photographs, images and art work. If by any chance the copyright holders find out, they will likely reach out to your business for any damages. The moment an original work is created, it is automatically protected. That means you are not supposed to use someone else’s work even if you see no copyright notice. You should talk to your attorney to determine the best course of action before contacting a complaining copyright holder, should you be contacted about copyright infringement.
With trademark infringement, if anyone tries to benefit from someone else’s trademark which includes symbol or design, name or any word that identifies with a product or service either by using by the exact trademark or anything similar to that without permission, they are likely to face legal action. It is important to note that any owner of the trademark invests all his time and money to market and develop the trademark. If contacted about a trademark violation, it is also advisable to talk to your attorney immediately.
Believe it or not, lawsuits by former employees are real. If you wrongfully (or even appear to) discharge an employee, then they can seek damages against you. To avoid this, you should have your attorney draft an employee manual or review your existing one. The idea is to ensure that all of your employees are aware of the conditions of employment and the code of conduct in the place of work. A non-disclosure agreement will help you ensure all confidential information is protected in case an employee leaves. Employment practices liability insurance also helps in protecting your business from fees and potential damages in-case an employee pursues any employee-related legal actions.
There are so many reasons that a business can be sued in today’s world. Don’t try to be your own lawyer, seek qualified legal counsel.