Nashville Business Law Blog

Protect intellectual property with confidentiality agreements

Keeping an edge over the competition often seems like a never-ending process for many Tennessee business owners. Intellectual property could help a company stay viable in its market, but protecting it can take some doing. Federal law protects a good deal of IP, but that does not mean that taking extra precautions to keep it safe are not warranted. For instance, trade secrets are not covered by federal law even if a patent, trademark or copyright is, so they require more security.

Confidentiality agreements could help. These contracts between an employer and employee require the employee not to discuss what he or she sees or does with the company. They can be tailored to fit the circumstances, but the crux is that the employee faces consequences if he or she reveals the information protected by the agreement.

Most businesses need to address environmental law concerns

When opening a new business, Tennessee owners need to address numerous issues. One that some may forget to attend to is compliance with any environmental law associated with the industry. Preserving the environment is at the forefront of much of the public's minds these days, and a noncompliant business may not only have problems with federal and state officials, but with its customer base as well.

The primary governmental agency most business owners are familiar with is the Environmental Protection Agency. However, Tennessee also has its own environmental agency that addresses issues specific to the state and with which a business must also comply. Certain industries must comply with more rules, laws and regulations than others do, but they are all just as important.

What can you do when someone sells your original art online?

The internet makes it infinitely easier for creative professionals to reach people interested in what they produce. Social media, specialized marketing sites and even personal blogs can all help artists and other creators connect with their intended audiences. You can quickly build a small business with your art or creative concept by targeted marketing and social media use.

Unfortunately, while the internet makes it easier for creators to get their ideas out there, it also makes it easier for other people to steal ideas or images. Works of art and other visual forms of intellectual property shared online all too often become a means for someone else to make money off of your concept and work.

Understanding some terms in a real estate purchase agreement

Buying a home here in Nashville for the first time can be an exciting time, but it can also be a confusing and frustrating prospect. So many steps require attention before the buyer gets the keys to his or her new home, and a new homebuyer may wonder what takes so long and why there is so much paperwork. Understanding the terms of the real estate purchase contract could help alleviate some of that and answer some questions.

Contingencies may serve as some of the most important provisions in the contract from the buyer's perspective. They outline the items that a buyer needs to do prior to closing the sale. For instance, the deal could be contingent upon the buyer receiving a clean home inspection, upon receiving a clean title search or upon some other condition specified by the buyer and agreed to by the seller. Contingencies allow a buyer to walk away from the deal if they are not met. In most cases, the buyer would receive his or her deposit, or earnest money, back.

Not having a ginseng dealer permit violates environmental law

Many people across the country are more health conscious than they used to be. They look for herbal and natural remedies for a variety of ailments or health concerns, and ginseng is one of them. Selling it could be a profitable business, but in order to do so in this state, a permit is required. Failing to adhere to this Tennessee environmental law requirement could mean trouble and cut into any profits that could be made.

Permits are valid from Sept. 1 through Aug. 31. In order to obtain one an application must be submitted no later than Aug. 15 of each year in which a seller intends to purchase ginseng from a Tennessee grower to resell it. A permit may be obtained after Sept. 1, but may be too late for the current year's harvest, which takes place from Sept. 1 through Dec. 31 of each year. The dealer season lasts longer than the harvest season, which runs from Sept. 1 through March 31.

Red flags for tenants in commercial real estate leases

Renting commercial property here in Nashville can be a complex and exciting prospect. When reviewing a commercial real estate lease, it would be a good idea not to move too fast. Instead, it deserves a thorough review in order to be sure that the tenant's rights and business interests are protected.

Part of the review of the lease should include a search for any red flags. A rental term of two years or more could constitute a red flag. Most business owners like to plan at least a few years out, but whether those plans come to fruition depends on a variety of factors. If one factor falls through, the remainder of the plan could falter as well. Having a rental term longer than two years could jeopardize future success if a company can no longer make the rental payments.

The correct use of business law can help your company thrive

Perhaps you did not anticipate the number of legal decisions and situations you would find yourself in when you opened your business. Whether you run a company here in Nashville or elsewhere, you need every advantage possible for it to thrive. If you use business law correctly, the legal decisions you make could keep you on the right course and help you grow a successful business.

Regardless of the type of business you have, you more than likely had numerous legal decisions to make from the beginning. You decided what type of entity to form, what to name your business and whether to purchase property or rent it, among others. These choices all involved looking at the legal ramifications and advantages you incur as a result.

What to consider before signing a commercial lease

Opening or expanding your own business is an exciting time. Things are going well, and you are ready to sign a commercial lease on a new space. However, before you sign on the dotted line, there are some important things you should consider. After all, office or retail space is usually the biggest monthly expense for a company.

Environmental law and the EPA: What is the NEIC?

When it comes to running certain businesses, whether here in Tennessee or elsewhere, complying with certain rules and regulations is just part of it. For particular companies, this may include environmental law. Understanding how the Environmental Protection Agency conducts its civil and criminal investigations could help prepare a company for what may happen if an investigation is opened against it. One aspect of any investigation is the analysis of evidence.

This duty falls to the National Enforcement Investigations Center, which does all of the forensic analysis needed by the EPA during its investigations. The laboratory is a fully accredited ISO/ICE 17025 forensics lab. In addition to analyzing forensic evidence, its primary duties include providing engineering evaluations, gathering data and providing data that is legally defensible.

Real estate issues: Adverse possession

Some people believe that good fences make good neighbors. It's a proverb that dates back to the mid-17th century. Robert Frost used it as a refrain in his poem, "Mending Fences," though Frost appears to have meant the opposite -- that boundaries are actually what alienate us. Nevertheless, when a boundary, such as a neighbor's fence, falls on the wrong side of the property line, it's one of the primary real estate issues that homeowners encounter across the country, including here in Tennessee.

It is called adverse possession. Technically, a neighbor's fence, garage or some other structure or activity (such as crossing the property for ingress and egress) that crosses onto a neighbor's property is trespassing -- at least at first. If it continues for a substantial amount of time, a Tennessee court may award the other party the right to use the portion of property in question.

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