Practical advice. Flat rates. Plain language.


Instagram's website policies get plain language overhaul, and a first amendment trademark battle headline this week's news.

Plain Language, Privacy, and Instagram

A lawyer rewrote Instagram’s terms of use in plain language so that young people using the app could understand their privacy rights. The rewrite was a part of a task force convened to study Internet use among teenagers. The teenagers in the study said “the sheer amount of writing and the lack of clarity within the document” prevented them from understanding Instagram’s terms of use.

The rewrite took the terms of use from over 5,000 words of legalese to a single page of plain language. Illustrating the importance of plain language, after reading the rewritten terms, the teenagers decided to change their behavior. They vowed to post less and not to use direct messaging, because Instagram…

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First amendment sign


Today's post includes the basic Washington state beer labeling requirements you should have in mind as you begin brainstorming labels for your brew.

You’ve perfected your recipe, bottled your beer, and now it’s time to slap labels on the bottles. Before creating your labels, you’ll need to know the Washington State beer labeling requirements . Below are the basic guidelines you should have in mind as you begin brainstorming labels for your brew.

Washington’s Rules Versus the Federal Labeling Requirements

If you comply with the federal labeling requirements under the TTB regulations, you will comply with most of Washington’s labeling requirements. However, Washington’s Liquor Control Board (LCB) has put in place a few extra regulations to be aware of.

You must obtain a federally-approved label, or a Certificate of Label Approval (COLA), before you are allowed to sell your beer in Washington. You must submit a copy of…

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Washington Beer Labels


This article discusses a trademark dispute between Seattle's Von Trapp's beer hall and the von Trapp Family.

What do beer, bocce and Bavarian singers have in common? Apparently a trademark dispute as of last month.

The famous Capitol Hill bar and restaurant Von Trapp’s was recently persuaded to change its name at the request of a member of the Trapp family of “Sound of Music” fame. The new name for the 10,000-square-foot space in Capitol Hill is Rhein Haus, as homage to the longest river running through Bavaria. Everything else about the vast beer and bocce hall will stay the same.

The owners, Deming Maclise and James Weimann, said in a press release they had “vetted the original name and got the federal trademark before opening in early 2013.” There appeared to be no issues with the name at first….

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Trademark Dispute


This article discusses trademarking a hashtag and Dez Bryan'ts "ThrowUpTheX".

We’ve discussed the intersection of sports and law a number of times on this blog, particularly in the context of trademarks and other intellectual property, and today our topic is Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiver Dez Bryant, his “ThrowUpTheX” brand, and his attempt at trademarking a hashtag, #throwupthex.

For context, Dez Bryant is famous for “throwing up the X” after scoring touchdowns, which is when he puts his arms up in the air in the shape of an “X.” Dez has been seeking to capitalize on his famous move by creating a brand called “ThrowUpTheX,” which brand’s website can be seen here. While the “lifestyle brand” is relatively new, Dez has been using the hashtag #throwupthex for quite some time. In an effort to…

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Learn about whether your business is covered by the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act and how to comply with the regulation.

Are you about to launch a new app with youth appeal? Are you hoping that your new game will trend with tweens? Hold on—you might have to comply with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA).

The government isn’t known for being on the cutting edge with technology, but the Federal Trade Commission seems to be well aware of apps such as Candy Crush and Snapchat. And it is continuously developing rules to regulate online services that collect data from users, especially children.

Just last year, revisions to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act took effect. The rule broadened its definition of personal information to include photos, audio recordings, geolocation, and persistent identifiers, including cookies that track activity online.

In this post, we’ll…

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A new Washington statute changes Washington Social Media Law and the way your business manages and monitors employees' online and social media presence.

The Washington social media law landscape changed recently with the passage of a new bill aimed at protecting employees from social media overreach. The new Washington “Social Media Statute” (RCW 49.44.200) presents a few challenges for businesses and entrepreneurs, especially those that may want to gain access to an employee’s personal or a “contested” social media account.  The statute adds new regulations that make it significantly more difficult to monitor an employee or applicant’s personal social media activity. Employers should understand their obligations under this new statute, and what it means for their social media policies.

Prohibited Activities

The statute makes it unlawful for an employer to “request, require, or otherwise coerce an employee or applicant to disclose login information for the…

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Social Media- Beware of Edge


Six states have now prohibited employers from requesting social media passwords during the hiring process. Bill Carleton, at his blog Counselor @ Law, had a number of attorneys (including myself) grade the various legislative attempts to statutorily define employment law. Take a few minutes to check out Bill’s post, which you can find here.

Thanks to Bill for first compiling the definitions and links in a single document and then compiling the opinions and posting the results on his blog!

Here are the full grades and comments I sent to Bill:


As used in this chapter, “social media” means an electronic service or account, or electronic content, including, but not limited to, videos, still photographs, blogs, video blogs, podcasts, instant and text messages,…

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iVLG's weekly News Roundup provides business owners and entrepreneurs the latest news surrounding business and recent cases and legislation.

Mergers and Acquisitions

Exxon Mobil Buys Canadian Oil and Gas Company
Oil giant Exxon Mobil agreed to terms on Wednesday to purchase Canadian oil and gas company Celtic Exploration. Exxon is paying roughly $3.1 billion in cash and stock. Exxon has been actively seeking to expand its presence in the energy-rich shale that is in western Canada.

The deal includes Exxon paying about $24.5 Canadian dollars ($24.92 USD) per share, which is roughly 35 percent above the Canadian company’s closing price. Celtic investors will also receive .5 of a share in a new company that will be led by Celtic’s current management team.

Microsoft Makes Two Deals in Two Days
Microsoft announced Wednesday that it has closed a deal to acquire MarketingPilot Software, LLC, a…

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The cybersecurity bill was blocked Thurdsday by a Republican filibuster in the Senate, which severely impairs its prospects of passing this year

We recently wrote a post about the new cybersecurity bill, which has been on the Obama administration’s top national security priorities. The bill was blocked Thurdsday by a Republican filibuster in the Senate. This latest development severely impairs its prospects of passing this year. The Senate voted 52 to 46 to cease debates, which falls short of the 60 required to force a final vote on the bill.

The cybersecurity bill would have established optional standards for the computer systems that oversee the country’s critical infrastructure, like power grids, dams, and transportation. The bill has received widespread bipartisan support, but there has been a fight over the proposed amendments to the legislation. In hopes of ending the battle over the bill,…

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Knight Capital Group glitch causes $440 loss; Bristol-Meyers executive accused of insider trading; and Illinois passes new social media privacy law.

U.S. Stock Market News

Glitches in System Cost Knight Capital Group $440 million
Knight Capital Group, one of the largest trading firms in the U.S., stock plunged nearly 50% by midday Thursday, trading at its lowest price since 1998. The steady plunge resulted from faulty software forcing the company to buy a great number of stocks at an inflated value and then sell all those stocks at a lower price, which sent dozens of U.S. stocks swinging more than 10 percent.

The company is scrambling to secure a buyer or investor to facilitate a potential merger to save the company after the severe loss. Knight intends to continue trading and market-making while it considers its options.

U.S. Securities Regulation

Bristol-Meyers Executive Accused of Insider Trading

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