5 Reasons You Should Have a Terms of Service Policy on Your Website

Terms of Service button

Have you considered a Terms of Service policy? If not, here are 5 reasons why you should consider one for your website:

 

  1. Maintain the Ability to Control the Use of Your Site. A Terms of Service agreement is a legally binding contract between you and your users.  It sets the rules and guidelines that users must agree to and follow in order to use and access your website or mobile app.

 

  1. Remind Users that You Own Your Content. As the website owner, you are the owner of your logo and content on your website. With your Terms of Service agreement, you can tell people just that and let them know that it is protected by copyright laws.

 

  1. Terminate Accounts. Tell people that if they abuse the accounts, they will be terminated from using the site.

 

  1. Limit Your Liability. You can limit your liability and tell users that you can’t be held responsible for any errors in the content presented, or for the information provided being accurate, complete, or suitable for any purpose.

 

  1. Set The Governing Law. Through your Terms of Service Agreement, you can let people know where they will have to resolve disputes. For example, if you are a Florida based company, you can establish Florida as the venue and governing law in a lawsuit.

 

Overall, Terms of Use agreements allow you to set the expectations for the users of your site.   Please feel free to contact Cobbe Law with any questions about this matter or any of your other business needs.

Hosting A Holiday Party?  Tips to Limit Your Legal Exposure

 

Tray of champagne for a holiday party

 

‘Tis the season for holiday parties and the spreading of good cheer in the workplace.  Unfortunately, too much cheer can cause liability for employers. If your Company plans to serve alcohol at the holiday party, the organization could be at risk for legal liability if a drunken employee harms himself or others.  To minimize this risk, use these tips to assist in planning an alcohol safe event.

  • Talk about your Company culture with employees emphasizing that drinking to excess is unacceptable during company events. Include alcohol usage guidance in your Company code of conduct.
  • Always serve food, such as appetizers, from the start of the event so employees are not drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Avoid having drinking as the main focus of the event. Provide entertainment, speeches, presentations, or other activities for employees to participate in at the event.
  • Consider serving just beer and wine, no liquor. Avoid serving drinks such as punch that limit an employee’s ability to assess how much alcohol they are drinking.
  • Limit the number of drinks the Company provides by using drink tickets or another informal method of tracking the amount of alcohol served.
  • Limit the number of hours that the bar is open. For example, close the bar during dinner and at a reasonable time to signal the drawing to a close and ending of the event.
  • Use trained bartenders to serve alcohol; never allow employees to serve coworkers or themselves. Also, make sure your bartenders are clear that they are not to serve alcohol to any person who appears to be inebriated.
  • Recruit your managers and event planning committee members, in advance, to keep their eyes open for employees who may be overindulging. Offer the employee a ride home, call and pay for a cab, or make certain that a designated non-drinking driver takes the wheel.

Employers need to be aware of the potential liability associated with holiday parties; but with a little a planning, holiday parties can be safe and liability-free.

Please feel free to call and/or email Cobbe Law directly with any questions or concerns.   Happy Holidays!

FEDERAL JUDGE BLOCKS NATIONWIDE IMPLEMENTATION OF NEW SALARY TEST SET TO TAKE EFFECT DECEMBER 1

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On November 22, 2016, a US Court in Texas entered an order providing a nationwide injunction blocking the enactment and enforcement of the new FLSA minimum salary threshold for exempt employees. The ruling comes just before the new minimum salary requirement was set to take effect later this week.

What does this mean for your business? As it stands, the current salary threshold, $23,660 annually / $455 per week will remain in effect until the temporary injunction is vacated or modified upon appeal.  None of these nullifying events are likely to occur prior to the previously scheduled December 1 implementation date.

The increase in minimum salary was expected to impact over 4 million employees.  Unfortunately, most employers have already made the decision and told their employees that their salaries were being increased or they were being converted to hourly employees, making them subject to the overtime regulations.

Despite this pro-employer ruling, the status of the temporary injunction should be closely monitored.  If the injunction is lifted or modified, employers may be in the same position they were faced with prior to last Tuesday’s ruling.

Please feel free to call and/or email Cobbe Law directly with any questions or concerns.
-Melody 

Cobbe Law is proud to announce

That Melody E. Cobbe has been selected into the American Law Society by America’s Top Lawyers. Nominees undergo an extensive vetting process and those that consistently demonstrate excellence, passion, and clarity throughout their legal career are ultimately chosen. The American Law Society’s membership is by invitation only.  No more than five (5%) percent of the American Law Society’s candidates are accepted into this elite group of professionals.

Melody E. Cobbe has been Selected as a 2015 Florida Rising Star

Florida Super Lawyers Magazine  has selected Melody E. Cobbe as a 2015 Florida Rising Star and among the best top local legal talent.  Each year, no more than 2.5 percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor.

Super Lawyers, a Thomson Reuters business, is a rating service of outstanding lawyers from more than 70 practice areas who have attained a high degree of peer recognition and professional achievement. The annual selections are made using a patented multiphase process that includes a statewide survey of lawyers, an independent research evaluation of candidates and peer reviews by practice area. The result is a credible, comprehensive and diverse listing of exceptional attorneys. Melody E. Cobbe has been recognized by Super Lawyers since 2011.

About Cobbe Law

At Cobbe Law, we are committed to being your business’ counsel for all legal matters – from start-up to breakup. Cobbe Law utilizes a solutions-oriented approach that is geared toward achieving the client’s defined goals and objectives.   Cobbe Law clients now have the ability to outsource their legal business needs while still receiving individual attention.  We have developed a simple and effective program that provides you and your company legal support on an as-needed basis, specific project, or monthly retainer. Currently offered services include: business formation; purchase or sale of an existing business; commercial agreements; corporate governance; employment consulting/human resources; and landlord/tenant consulting.

Company Annual Reports Due May 1

Dear Friends and Clients;

Now that tax season is over, don’t forget to file your annual report before May 1, 2015 with the Department of State, Division of Corporations. If you fail to do so, a non-waivable late fee of $400 will be imposed for your Company to maintain its active status.

You can go to https://services.sunbiz.org/Filings/AnnualReport/FilingStart to file your report.

Please remember that this is the time to update your information.  You should (i) add, delete, or change the names and/or addresses of the officers, directors, managers, managing members, and addresses only of general partners; (ii) change the registered agent and registered office address; (iii) change the principal office address and mailing address for the business entity; and/or (iv) add or change your federal employer identification number.

Please feel free to call and/or email Cobbe Law directly with any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Melody Cobbe

5 Items to Consider During Your Business’ Quarterly Review

The following five items should be on the top of every successful business’ mind at this point in the year. If you have not reviewed each of these actions yet, or are unsure where to start, please call our office today and let us help you get back on track!

  1. Annual Requirements: In the state of Florida, annual reports are typically due beginning January 1 and must be filed no later than May 1.  Additionally, depending on your business structure, your company may be required to conduct annual meetings for shareholders. This is to make sure that the company remains in good standing and is not waiting until the last minute to fulfill these critical duties.
  2. Trademarks: It’s time to think about whether you want to obtain a trademark for your business or ensure an existing trademark will remain active in the coming year. Stay on top of your trademark by reviewing it with your Cobbe Law team.
  3. Employee Contracts: If your employees are under contract, it is essential to review the contracts before year’s end. Ask yourself these key questions: Do you plan on renewing contracts or cancelling contracts? Have employees changed positions within your company or do your contracts have non-solicitation and non-compete provisions? Now is the time to review those contracts with your Cobbe Law team to ensure they are still enforceable.
  4. Expiring / Renewing Leases: The end of the year is a common time for leases to expire. It is essential to review documents and consider renewals or terminations in order to make sure you comply with any termination notice provisions.
  5. Website Policies: Most websites contain “Terms of Use” and/or “Privacy Policy” provisions to inform users of a company’s security measures and liabilities regarding data use and protections. The language in these policies may be outdated and/or no longer reflect reasonable security measures. Reduce your liability by revisiting these policies and keeping the language up-to-date and consistent with industry standards.

These tips are just a start but a great place for each of us to end the first quarter right!

Melody E. Cobbe Selected as Top Lawyer by the South Florida Legal Guide

The South Florida Legal Guide 2015 has recognized Melody E. Cobbe as being a “Top Lawyer” in the South Florida region.  This distinction honors attorneys who have earned a high level of respect for their abilities, professionalism, and integrity.  South Florida Legal Guide determines its annual top listings by conducting extensive peer-review surveys completed by South Florida lawyers who nominate and evaluate their professional peers.

Melody is proud to have again been recognized by the South Florida legal community and the South Florida Legal Guide.

Keeping Competitors Out of Your Retail Space

Most stores that lease space in a mall or other commercial area would like a guarantee that the landlord won’t also rent to a competing business.  This guarantee is known as “exclusive use,” and you can negotiate for it in a lease. If you’re negotiating a right to exclusive use, here are 5 main points to consider:

  1. What’s your use? What happens if you re-focus your business and your use changes? Can you still keep out competitors?
  1. What if you sublet some space or assign the lease – does the exclusive use still apply?
  1. If you temporarily fall behind on the rent, do you lose your right to exclusive use?
  1. What about pre-existing tenants?
  1. What’s your remedy? If the landlord violates the contract and leases space to a competitor, what can you do? Presumably you can sue in court to make the landlord stop, but can you also withhold rent, or terminate the lease? If so, do you first have to prove that you actually suffered financial harm?

When Should You Use the “TM” or “®” symbols?

If you claim rights to use a mark, you may use the “TM” (trademark) or “SM” (service mark) symbol to alert the public to your claim of a “common-law” mark.  No registration is necessary to use a “TM” or “SM” symbol and those symbols put people on notice that you claim rights in the mark.  You may only use the federal registration symbol “®” after the USPTO actually registers a mark.