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This post explores the legal issues affecting social media sweepstakes and how to keep your promotion compliant with advertising, marketing, and other law.

Social media platforms are an ideal way for businesses to spread brand awareness through sweepstakes and other interactive promotions. We are starting our series on “Social Media Legal Issues” with a post on sweepstakes, because sweepstakes are fun, they help to illustrate the power of social media, and sweepstakes are a prime example of an old legal issue that is taking a new form as it is applied to the novelty of social media.

Like social media generally, sweepstakes are interactive and frequently shared with others. Despite the usual knock to their odds, people like telling others about offers of free merchandise or services. And people love to tell others about any free stuff they receive. While sweepstakes have been around for…

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The house and senate are set to vote on legislation that could have profound effects on online commerce and the Internet in general. These bills seek to protect the intellectual property rights of US businesses and individuals, but opponents of the bill worry that these bills are too broad, are likely to be ineffective for their intended purposes, and are likely to have important negative unintended consequences. Given the current state of the legislation, for reasons we’ve detailed below, we side with those opposing the legislation.

These controversial bills may be voted on as soon as next month. The Senate version is called the “Protect Intellectual Property Act” (PIPA), and the House version is called the “Stop Online Piracy Act” (SOPA)….

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Congress Passes Holiday Payroll Tax-Cut Extension
Congress passed a short term fix to extend the payroll taxes.  The Republican led House of Representatives was pushing for a plan that would include a full year extension but ended up settling for a short term measure which will provide benefits for 160 million workers including 40,000 unemployed workers in Washington state.

Microsoft Announces The Kinect Accelerator
Microsoft recently announced The Kinect Accelerator program, which is designed to incubate startups building the next generation of programs and applications for the Kinect. Applications for the accelerator program are being accepted now through January 25, 2012. The program is being conducted with assistance from TechStars which will grant the ten companies accepted into the accelerator program $20,000 in…

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Trusts can be an important estate planning and asset management tool that can be used by any individual who is seeking to maximize asset protection.

Not Just a Tool For the Wealthy
One common estate planning misconception about trusts is that they are instruments used by and designed only for wealthy folks. While commonly used by wealthy individuals, trusts can be an important estate planning and asset management tool that can be used by any individual who is seeking to maximize asset protection and minimize estate taxes. Depending on your objectives, a trust can be one of the simplest ways to ensure your estate, no matter what size, is properly distributed according to your wishes. Today’s article will focus on some common types of trusts and the estate planning basics of each.

Trusts For Estate Planning
I’ll begin today’s post by revisiting some of the basic concepts of…

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In this week’s discussion on term sheet provisions, we’re looking at protective provisions.

What Are Protective Provisions?
Protective provisions are relatively standard provisions of a term sheet that provide investors with a veto on certain key decisions.

What’s at Stake?
The board of directors can decide to take key actions, but if the investors don’t consent, where they have veto power, the company will be prohibited from taking the action. From the investor’s standpoint, they need these provisions to be protected against the tyranny of the majority. From the company’s perspective, these veto powers can be a pain, but they can also be beneficial in some circumstances, such as when the company is negotiating for a higher acquisition price. In such a scenario, the…

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An objective discussion about the advantages and disadvantages of hiring an independent contractor versus an employee.

Last week, we provided a brief discussion on properly classifying your new hires, and the various factors the IRS will use to determine the status of your worker. This week, we’ll dig a little deeper into the pros and cons of hiring an independent contractor versus an employee.

The Advantages

Save Money
Perhaps the most important benefit that results for most businesses is saving money. By classifying your new hire as an independent contractor your business will not have to pay the various expenses associated with hiring an “employee,” including employer-provided benefits, employer-provided equipment and work space, as well as the required insurance and wage taxes.

Freedom to Staff Your Business According to Your Business’ Needs
Hiring an independent contractor may offer you flexibility in…

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SOPA Vote Postponed; PIPA Set at Top of Senate List; Cantwell Supports OPEN Alternative
Mark up and voting of the SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act) bill that would either save the entertainment industry or ruin the Internet, depending on who you believe,  has been delayed due to “the House Schedule”. Fred Wilson suggests that the cause of the delay is either complaints from high-tech executives persuaded the bill’s sponsors to reconsider, the grass-roots movement objecting to potential over reach by SOPA persuaded the bill’s sponsors to reconsider, or because Representatives were bored with talking about SOPA and wanted to go home for the holidays. The related Senate bill PIPA (Protect Intellectual Property Act) is at the top of Senator Harry Reid’s…

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Getting to Know Your Employment Agreement: Details on the Key Provisions of a Standard Employment Contract

Your company is ready to hire an employee. You searched the internet for free employment agreements. You finally found one you’d like to use. Here’s the problem: you don’t understand what every term of the employment agreement means and, more importantly, how those terms are going to affect your business moving forward. Luckily, we’ve boiled down some of the key features of a standard employment agreement for you in this article.

Most employment agreements will include provisions that detail the employee’s duties, term of employment, salary, employment start date, and any included benefits of the job. In addition to these employee-specific provisions, there are additional provisions that most employment agreements include, such as:

Confidentiality: this provision requires your new employee to agree…

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Another One Bites the Dust: AT&T, T-Mobile Decide to Abandon Merger

Just days after former U.S. Congressman and long-time merger supporter Rick Boucher began his rally cry behind the advancement of the AT&T and T-Mobile merger, AT&T has released a statement of its intent to give up on progressing with the merger. Believed by many to be on its last legs for much of the past several months, the merger appears now to be officially dead. AT&T released the following statement, in part:

“The actions by the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice to block this transaction do not change the realities of the U.S. wireless industry. It is one of the most fiercely competitive industries in the world, with a mounting need for more spectrum that has not diminished…

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As the new year fast approaches, it’s an excellent time to take some time to reflect on your ideas and start to write a business plan for launching your start-up. Here’s the best part, you can write your business plan for free. You won’t have to invest anything, other than a little time, to develop a bullet-proof business strategy to grow your business. Today’s article will focus on the initial steps of writing a business plan, and provide some tips on how to find easy-to-use online resources to guide you through the process or building a successful business plan.

Determine Who You Are
The first step is to take some time to think about exactly what your business is? What services do…

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