patent attorney in Birmingham AL

Trade Secrets Litigation: The Challenges of Protecting Proprietary Technology

Theft of trade secrets is a critical and pressing problem for technology companies across the globe. If your company’s proprietary technology was recently stolen, you should exercise the powerful remedies made available under various US laws. A prolific business law attorney can help identify the best legal options, including any cross-border remedies, and provide you with strong representation to protect your interests.

What Qualifies as a Trade Secret?

The law describes trade secrets as any information that is valuable to a business as well as of potential value to competitors. You can claim any non-public information that gives you an economic benefit or a competitive advantage as a trade secret. For business information to qualify as a trade secret, it should be:

  • Known to a limited set of people.
  • Of commercial value.
  • Held as a secret by the rightful holder by employing a confidentiality agreement and other similar steps.

Any unauthorized acquisition, disclosure, or use of such secret information in a way contradictory to commercial practices is regarded as a violation of trade secret protection and unfair practice. Trade secrets and other proprietary technology are usually the most valuable assets of a software or technology organization.

These can be in the form of manufacturing techniques, chemical compositions, equipment designs, research methods, product formulas, unique combinations, supplier and vendor details, and customer lists. Companies usually find it necessary to protect this information for maintaining a competitive edge.

Challenges of Trade Secret Litigation

Safeguarding trade secrets has its unique set of challenges and difficulties. This can be seen in the high number of infringement lawsuits, but only a handful of legal settlements. In fact, many cases were awarded insufficient compensation that failed to cover the damages caused by violators.

These are a few complexities associated with legally protecting proprietary technology:

Defining proprietary technology

The primary problem in defending or appealing against infringement claims is identifying the trade secrets. The scope of ownership is usually unclear as it is a combination of existing technologies and public information.

Investigating claims

Handling cases involving proprietary technology and trade secrets requires a thorough understanding of the technological aspects of the asset and identifying all legal regulations that may apply to it. This requires working with a competent and skilled trade secrets attorney.

Proving an infringement

Trade secret infringement requires evidence in the form of proof of legitimate ownership. You would also need to prove the manner in which the infringement occurred, and the damages caused. This can require tremendous effort to gather and produce before a court. Generally, only indirect evidence is available in the form of a new launch by a direct competitor involving proprietary tech.

Gathering evidence

You need to submit relevant evidence for a proprietary technology infringement lawsuit. Failure to submit may result in legal consequences for everyone involved.

Choosing viable and competent courts

You would need to file the infringement suit with a competent court that understands the diversified nature of trade secrets and tech-related infringement claims. This will help you ensure favorable treatment and the protection of your rights.

Trade secret owners need to remain proactive and informed about defending their rights since these factors can make litigation a challenging and painstaking task. You should retain the services of a qualified business law attorney to take the right measures for protecting your trade secrets.

Stolen Trade Secrets: What Now?

Intentional theft of proprietary technology constitutes a crime under both state and federal laws. The Economic Espionage Act of 1996 (EEA) is the most significant law dealing with this. The U.S. Attorney General possesses sweeping powers under the EEA to prosecute any company or person involved in the misappropriation of trade secrets. Intentional copying, selling, or receiving illegally acquired trade secrets is a punishable offense with severe penalties.

Under the EEA, corporations can be fined up to $5 million while individuals can be fined up to $500,000. Violators can be sent to prison for 10 years or less and any proceeds or profits derived seized. The EEA has a widespread reach. It doesn’t just apply to thefts occurring within the United States, but also in other countries. However, this is applicable only if the offense involves the US or the thief is an American corporation or citizen.

Any theft performed on behalf of a foreign agent or government will attract up to $10 million in corporate fines and a jail time of 15 years. Several states have enacted local laws criminalizing trade secret infringement. For instance, Alabama’s version of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act is Ala. Code. § § 8-27-1 et seq.

Choose a Skilled Trade Secrets Infringement Attorney to Protect Your Rights

The BHM Law Group is a full-service business law firm offering a broad practice involving intellectual property, copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and related matters. Our attorneys have helped many clients develop and execute legal strategies around proprietary technology centered on the idea of treating them as a business asset. We will work closely with you to not just protect your trade secrets and intellectual assets but also monetize their value.

To set up your complimentary consultation with us, call (205) 964-9764 or reach us online.


social media at work

What Are the Legal Implications Of Social Media Use In The Workplace?

Social media has become a ubiquitous part of everyone’s daily life, including professional life. Furthermore, applying a balanced approach toward social medial policies at the workplace is essential for protecting the rights, privacy, and interests of both employees and employers. An experienced corporate law attorney can provide invaluable insight into developing solid policies for social media use at the workplace.

Here are a few important legal implications of using social media at the workplace, which you should be aware of as an employee or employer.

Intellectual Property Rights

When employees use social networking sites at work, employers have a real fear of the loss of confidential information. Companies can be exposed to potential lawsuits for HIPAA violations and disclosure of secrets. Employees may use social media to inadvertently disclose protectable third-party information, trade secrets, confidential information, and medical information among other things.

Clients may also sue the business for disclosure of secrets and cause irretrievable loss of reputation. Widespread use of emails has always carried risk in some measure. But, the dissemination of information through social media is much faster and can quickly reach a larger audience.

Employers should make sure that they have proper intellectual property rights to any content. They should also have solid contracts and policies in place to prevent employees from infringing on their rights and using or sharing any content without permission.

Impact on the Right to Privacy

The right to privacy is a significant legal issue surrounding the use of social media in the workplace. Employees are fair in assuming a reasonable level of privacy where personal social media accounts are concerned. Employers may not monitor or access these accounts without a legitimate reason or employee consent.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. For instance, the employer may ask for access if an employee’s digital media conduct has a direct impact on a client or violates company policies. Taking this into account, it cannot be used for discrimination. Several hiring and recruiting managers use social media for performing background checks or screening job applicants.

Employers are not supposed to lift the personal information of candidates from their social media accounts. Anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from inquiring about an applicant’s religion, age, sexual orientation, national origin, and disability.

Dangers to Privilege

There are several legal hurdles to attempting to monitor a worker’s online presence. These are muddy waters and should be best discussed with a knowledgeable employment law attorney. You may find yourself embroiled in a privacy-related claim with unregulated monitoring. In Pietrylo v. Hillstone Restaurant Group, the jury awarded compensation to the employee after finding that the restaurant group violated the federal Stored Communications Act.

This Act makes it illegal for employers to intentionally gain access to stored information and communication without prior authorization from the employee. The restaurant manager had asked the worker to share their password in a private MySpace chat room. The manager accessed the room and reviewed the content.

The jury’s verdict was affirmed by the court, and they concluded that the worker’s purported “authorization” was provided under pressure and coerced. The jury also concluded that the manager’s review of the chat space was intentional.

Defamation and Discrimination Based on Social Media Findings

Digital crime is on the rise and social media use at the workplace can easily lead to harassment and defamation. Employees may post content or comments on social media channels that are harassing or defamatory towards clients, colleagues, and customers. Workers have a responsibility of addressing such behavior for ensuring that it doesn’t violate the rights of others or create a hostile work environment.

Social media blurs professional and personal lines of communication and behavior. Individuals don’t pay as much attention to their postings and inadvertently say more than what they would have in an email. This compounds the risk for employers.

Discrimination claims arising from social media usage of employees are a potentially costly and significant risk to the employer. In fact, organizations are exposed to such claims even before they hire the applicant or after the applicant leaves the company.

Legal Implications on Data Protection and Cybersecurity

Social media use can pose data protection and cybersecurity risks for businesses. Workers may share confidential or sensitive information on social media. They may fall prey to cyber-attacks or phishing scams. It is important for employers to take the right measures for data protection and for ensuring that their workers are trained in recognizing and preventing cyber threats.

Potential Government Enforcement Action

Social media use at the workplace may also give rise to government enforcement actions for improper online conduct. Employers can be held liable if their workers use social media for commenting on the employer’s products and services if it is in violation of the guidelines issued by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Discuss a Strong Legal Strategy with our Employment Law Attorneys

The experienced employment law attorneys at the BHM Law Group have the legal skills, resources, and knowledge to help organizations design, develop, and implement sound policies for preventing legal action against them. Our attorneys take pride in offering expert advice that is easy to understand and implement. To schedule your consultation, call us at (205) 994-0902 or fill out this online contact form.

gig economy

Unique Legal Challenges for Businesses in the Gig Economy

The growth of the gig economy has led to an increasing number of legal challenges faced by freelancers, independent contractors, and other gig economy participants. These issues typically become prominent as a freelancer keeps taking on different projects or a contractor performs different roles.

An experienced corporate law attorney can help you sift through and find remedies to unique legal challenges, including litigation, misclassification, and contract disputes. Here are some of the unique legal challenges faced by entrepreneurial businesses in the gig economy.

Legal Issues Related to Pay and Labor

Alabama laws are clear on legal issues regarding fair pay and labor. Freelancers don’t have access to standard benefits as regular employees do. In the gig economy, workers don’t get vacation days, days off, sick leaves, and time off with pay. Labor laws are designed for employees to ensure they get a fair deal.

These laws don’t support freelance work, which means that gig workers don’t have access to numerous benefits. In addition, freelancers don’t get insurance and other benefits as part of their contracts as well. Legal issues can occur when businesses categorize employees as gig workers or independent contractors.

Taxation-Related Concerns in the Gig Economy

Freelancers are independent contractors where state law is concerned. They are required to apply taxes for each payment received instead of having the amount deducted from their paychecks. Freelancers need to know the amount of taxes they should pay for both state and federal taxation periods. You may need to research taxation laws and contact IRS for additional paperwork. It’s fundamental that you fill out correct forms since they are different from when working as a company.

Contract Situation Can be Precarious

The gig economy has come a long way. Besides, there are still concerns about the future of this industry. The heavy lean on contractual work over gaining standard employment can give rise to several legal issues. Contract agreements in the gig economy can result in a precarious situation where the freelancer has to rely on them for work.

These documents may not have ironclad terms. Companies use loose language in contracts so that it can apply to different scenarios. This fuels the possibility of legal issues. A primary concern with contracts is the high possibility of a breach. This can leave a freelancer without obtaining payment for their work. These legal concerns can be avoided if an attorney draws the terms and provisions listed within a contract. It will also help ensure the document is valid.

Running a Business in the Gig Economy

Most freelancers work alone in the gig economy without an employer. They acquire payment for individual jobs and essentially run their own business. Without a legal entity, freelancers are open to the risk of losing their assets. In the gig economy, business owners should make sure that they take the necessary steps for protecting their assets. This can be done through entity protections. You should consult with an attorney to learn more about protecting yourself and your assets.

Many freelancers experience payment issues when their employer refuses to follow through with the terms of the contract. An experienced attorney can help you if the employer doesn’t complete the necessary actions for providing payment. Small business owners and freelancers usually don’t have the capacity to initiate legal proceedings against a party that refuses to pay.

Other legal concerns regarding payments in the gig economy relate to the type of payment made. For instance, many employers prefer making payments through cryptocurrency instead of standard funds. It can be challenging for freelance businesses to navigate through contracts, client lists, and other aspects of a standard business without hiring an attorney.

Gig Economy is Full of Hurdles for Small Businesses

The gig industry may be smooth and lucrative for Uber, Lyft, and other giant conglomerates. However, things are rife with legal issues for small businesses and freelancers. As per a survey by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, over 20 million US workers are employed in the gig economy. This covers independent contractors, contingent workforce, temporary help agency workers, on-call workers, and workers provided by contract firms.

Technology-based platforms have only added to the surmounting legal troubles in the economy. They use disruptive business models that lower business costs by hiring third-party suppliers. These businesses have reclassified traditional workers that would otherwise have been on payroll as self-employed.

While the new working arrangements provide increased flexibility and have deepened the labor pool, many workers prefer security over flexibility. In addition, the model transfers sick pay, minimum wage, vacation, maternity or paternity benefits, health insurance, and social welfare taxes to the freelancer. These challenges were addressed in the landmark Dynamex ruling.

This ruling by the California Supreme Court prohibits companies in the gig economy from misclassifying their workers as independent contractors.

Get a Competent and Skilled Business Law Attorney on Your Side

The experienced and capable corporate law attorneys at the BHM Law Group provide simplistic yet relevant legal advice to businesses of all sizes. Our attorneys have decades of legal experience in all matters related to corporate and employment law. You can count on us to provide innovative and streamlined solutions to any challenges you come across. To set up your complimentary consultation, call (205) 994-0902 or reach us online.

environmental regulations on business

How Can Environmental Regulations Impact Business Operations?

In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the impact of environmental regulations on businesses. These concerns have only been aggravated across US businesses because of increased competition from emerging economies.

High penalties for businesses that violate stringent environmental laws as well as reputation risks in the market for companies with a significant environmental footprint continue to be a challenge. An experienced corporate law firm can help you understand how to improve business operations without sacrificing the future of the planet.

Environmental Regulations and Compliance for Alabama Businesses

The managing body for corporate compliance with environmental laws is the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). This agency is responsible for implementing the laws and regulations enforced by Congress. There are different rules and guidelines for different industries. All businesses in Alabama are required to comply with these rules.

Most businesses think that EPA only regulated big conglomerates, such as oil and natural gas rigs. In reality, small businesses have compliance obligations that they need to meet as well. For instance, a repair garage has to consider the environmental implications of storing and disposing of fuel, oil, tires, and car batteries.

You should speak with a knowledgeable business law attorney to understand the regulations that apply to your company. Your attorney will help you avoid adverse actions, such as imposed closure and fines for any infractions.

Impact of Environmental Regulations on Productivity

Studies show that complying with environmental regulations can stifle operations and productivity. Pertaining to this, the effect on productivity and employment reduction is only in small amounts. This is usually more likely in energy- and pollution-intensive sectors.

There is not enough evidence suggesting a reduction in international competitiveness if environmental regulations are strengthened. Further, the impact of current environmental regulations on investment and trade is also negligible as compared to other factors, such as the quality of the local workforce and market conditions.

There is no denying the fact that the numerous benefits of environmental regulations far outweigh the impact on business operations and reduced profits. For instance, even though the introduction of the Clean Air Act in 1963 led to job losses in polluting industries – the health benefits are more than 100 times the employment costs of the regulation.

There is tremendous evidence suggesting that environmental regulations discourage research and development in polluting technologies. Businesses can improve their productivity, operations, and bottom line by using techniques that are better for the environment.

Studies suggest that low-carbon innovations attract greater economic benefits as compared to polluting technologies. This makes it important to generate more knowledge in the industry and economy, which can then be used by other innovators for developing new techs across other sectors.

Effect of Environmental Regulations on Industry Competitiveness

Environmental regulations have been a hot topic of debate for several years. Many experts have claimed that these regulations stifle economic growth by being too burdensome. Pertaining to this, it has been suggested that long-term competitiveness is actually increased when all businesses follow environmental regulations.

Businesses adjust to new environmental laws quickly by adapting to cost-effective techniques. They often adopt cleaner production processes and invest in energy efficiency measures. This helps in boosting productivity and reducing costs over a period of time. Another key benefit of environmental regulations is that it helps in creating jobs.

Companies need to purchase new equipment or hire additional workers which boosts productivity and operations in the long run. Competitiveness is also spurred by environmental regulations since businesses are encouraged to develop new products and technologies which meet the stringent standards set by the EPA.

Complying With Environmental Regulations While Remaining Profitable

Regulatory compliance with environmental guidelines is necessary if you want to avoid fines and other penalties. An experienced corporate law attorney can help you understand more about the guidelines applicable to your particular business. They can also help you develop necessary policies to ensure that you remain compliant with the regulations.

Create an internal compliance program

Companies should develop an internal compliance program for ensuring they meet applicable environmental regulations. Knowledgeable law firms can help their clients establish clear policies and SOPs for employees. They can also help by regularly auditing the operations for identifying any non-compliance issues. Businesses should appoint a team or individual with a defined objective to monitor and enforce the compliance program.

Ensure compliance through external resources

Many companies rely on lawyers, consultants, and other similar professionals to understand the different legal obligations under environmental law. These experts can help you boost operations and productivity by providing invaluable advice on complying with the various laws for minimizing any costs that come with non-compliance. Governments also offer free online resources to businesses to comply with specific regulatory guidelines.

Employee training

You can boost business operations by training all workers in relevant environmental laws. This will help you avoid costly penalties and fines. Companies should consider ongoing training sessions to set expectations with staff members regarding compliance.

Legal Help is Here from a Leading Business Law Firm in Alabama

The BHM Law Group helps businesses of all sizes develop and implement policies to help them stay compliant with relevant laws, including environmental regulations. Our experienced corporate law attorneys will provide legal advice based on solid research and decades of experience. To request your consultation, call us at (205) 994-0902 or complete this online form.

buying a business

Things To Look for When Buying a Business

The fastest way to launch a new business is to buy an existing one. You can bypass the grueling and stressful initial phase to set up the business. But it’s critical that you carry out due diligence when buying an established business or you may not be able to move straight into profitability as you hoped to. A reliable business law attorney in Alabama can help you evaluate several factors in order to identify a business that is a good fit for you.

Original Owner’s Reasons for Selling the Business

The most important factor to consider is the owner’s take on selling the company or business. Are they retiring? Is it due to health reasons? Is the owner considering a different venture? There are several reasons for a business owner to sell their business. You need to be wary of situations where the owner is selling a business because of imminent downfall.

Carefully examine the reasons provided by the owner. Look for potential warning signs and red flags. This is where due diligence comes in helpful. A business law attorney will be able to uncover information on the enterprise. You may want to get the owner to sweeten the deal or look at other available choices if the business is being sold to cut losses.

Cost-Effectiveness of the Deal

The business should be worth the price that the owner is asking from you. You need to ensure that buying the business makes sense. You should not be paying more than a reasonable rate.

While there is always room for negotiation, the starting price should be close to the worth of the business. If the owner asks for a rate that seems unfair or doesn’t make financial sense, it’s best that you move on to other choices.

You should also make sure that you don’t stretch yourself too much financially in purchasing the business. You should not go in over your head. In an ideal situation, you would have the available capital to purchase the venture without having to finance the entire thing.

Skills to Operate the Business

A business that is profitable under existing management may not necessarily remain the same under new leadership. You need to possess the necessary skills for keeping a business profitable. Honestly assess your skillset to ensure you have what it takes to run the particular business. If not, you should hire someone you can trust to take care of the everyday operations.

Future Outlook of the Industry and Business

Timing is among the most important factors to be noted when purchasing a business. You need to make sure the time is ripe for entering a particular industry or buying the business. You can determine this by studying the trajectory of the overall industry and economy and comparing it with the trajectory of the business. You may also want to retain the services of a qualified business law attorney with past experience in handling successful deals of a similar nature.

Brand Reputation and Goodwill of the Business

The business you want to purchase should have an excellent reputation in the community it operates in. Go through customer reviews and testimonials carefully. You will come across common themes after going through the first few reviews and feedback. You should have a clear idea of what customers think of the business and what they want from it.

Look for recurring complaints regarding operations, customer service, or after-sale support. You need to find things that are a cause for concern. In addition, look for any complaints that may have been filed with the Better Business Bureau. It’s prudent to find a company with a loyal customer base and significant goodwill among the community.

Potential Legal Liabilities

You need to perform complete due diligence before you make a large investment. The most prominent thing to look for is whether the business has any legal liabilities. Are there any pending lawsuits, liens, or judgments against any of the owners?

Financial Records and Accounts

Digging into financial records is another prominent area of due diligence. The records should be organized and make it easy to find information. They should be straightforward. Ask your accountant to review the financial records thoroughly.

If you think the records are messy or not presented in the proper way, this could be a potential red flag. You should move forward only after you have diligently gone through everything to make sure things are in order.

Talk to a Knowledgeable Business Law Attorney – Book Your Consultation Today

At the BHM Law Group, our seasoned attorneys believe that purchasing an existing business makes sense only if the circumstances are right. Our attorneys can carry out the due diligence process to ensure you make a great investment.

To request your free consultation, call us at (205) 964-9764 or complete this online form.