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Kentucky Law Blog

Can I sue if someone steals my idea?

If you have an idea or concept for a product, you may feel angry if someone else has managed to turn that idea into their own product for sale. You may even consider suing that person. However, Entrepreneur.com points out that concepts and ideas are not protected by U.S. copyright law. So unless an idea is fashioned into a tangible expression, it is unlikely you can receive any compensation in a northern Kentucky or Cincinnati court for that person taking your idea. 

For instance, the mere idea of a television set cannot be protected. You may imagine a new design for a television monitor, but if that idea is not expressed, the law will not protect it. However, if that design is rendered on paper, it can be copyrighted and registered with the federal government. Likewise, ideas for fictional works cannot be copyrighted, but a fully realized work with dialogue and narrative in a video, audio or text form can be registered and copyrighted.

What is workers' compensation fraud in Ohio?

In Ohio, you have the right to collect workers' compensation if you are injured on the job and have associated medical expenses. This system is set up to protect you and your employer. However, some people try to defraud the system and collect benefits when they are not rightfully due to them. The Ohio Revised Code clearly outlines what constitutes workers' compensation fraud.

Obviously, collecting benefits when you are not hurt or when your injury was not caused by something while at work is illegal. This system is designed only for those who are injured on the job. In addition, if you receive benefits in error, either getting benefits when they are not due to you or getting an overpayment of benefits, this is also considered fraud if you do not report the error and return the overpayment.

How do I file an annual business report?

Part of owning a business in Kentucky is learning all the legal requirements you must fulfill each year. One of those is filing an annual business report. Unless you have a sole proprietorship, One Stop explains that you are required by law to file a business report with the Secretary of State's office.

You will get a postcard by mail that you must fill out and return or you can file online. If you have a new business, then you will need to submit extra information than you will in subsequent years. You will need to provide the names and addresses of those in power positions within the company, along with confirming the registered office agent and principal. Then you will just sign and date it. You also must pay a $15 fee. If you have an established business, you just have to confirm everything on the postcard is correct, sign and date it and pay the fee.

Protect your company trademark

Trademarks are a valuable form of intellectual property that help businesses brand themselves in the eyes of the public. From slogans to images to taglines, companies can register many sorts of different identifiers as trademarks. But trademarks are no good to northern Kentucky entrepreneurs if someone else uses the trademark without permission. If unauthorized trademark use is not challenged, the trademark may become useless to the owner.

It is easy to think the heavy lifting is over once you have successfully filed your trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. However, Entrepreneur.com points out that your trademark can be devalued in a number of ways. For one thing, your own employees might not use the trademark in the proper manner. Third parties can also use the trademark in ways that infringe upon its rightful use. Laying out terms of use is one way to combat this kind of misuse.

What to know when filing a workers' compensation claim

As you may be well aware, having workers' compensation is a critical part of any well-rounded benefits package. Its primary purpose is to protect you and provide financial support to you and your family should you ever be involved in a work-related accident that leaves you injured and unable to perform your job duties. At Gatlin Voelker, PLLC, we have helped many employees in Kentucky to file workers' compensation claims following incidents at their workplace. 

Understanding what to pay attention to when filing your workers' compensation claim is imperative to helping your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve. Failing to pay attention to the details, ignoring seemingly repetitive requests and even procrastinating filling out a claim, could void your claim and leave you grappling to find a way to provide for your needs on your own.

Handling construction contract disputes

Few things are more disruptive to your construction business than a contract dispute. Nevertheless, in construction as with any business, contract issues are common and sometimes lead to costly litigation. Whether there is a disagreement about the terms of the contract or an accusation of breach of contract, all work on a project may come to a screeching halt and payment may be indefinitely delayed until you reach a resolution.

These kinds of issues can damage your relationship with the client, your construction company's reputation and your bottom line. Understanding the reasons why many contract disputes arise during construction may help you reduce the risk of these disputes.

Can your competitors strengthen your business?

You have worked hard to build your brand by leveraging your competencies and effectively marketing your product. Consumers are noticing and your business is growing and thriving in Kentucky. One of your constant concerns in maintaining a competitive position in the market is to regularly analyze your competition and watch what they are doing. However, have you ever considered that forming worthwhile relationships with your competitors could actually benefit your organization?

When you spend time observing the way your competitors do things, you can gain insight into how you can better strategize to continue to grow your company. More often than not, businesses discover best practices because of the willingness of others, usually competitors, who are excited to share their accomplishments and discoveries. Information-sharing does not have to mean you need to disclose sensitive information about your company. According to Entrepreneur, there are several important reasons why you should be friendly with your competition including the following:

  • There could potentially be an opportunity for your business to be bought out by your competition. 
  • If you take the chance to teach your competition about some of the things you have learned, you can benefit the industry and potentially realize other things that can help your company.
  • Your competitors may be some of your most cherished mentors.
  • Sharing information within your industry may help competitors to continually better their products or services which will ultimately strengthen your company's reputation.

Defining deceptive trade practices

As a business owner in Cincinnati, you are well aware that the competition to be the best in your space can be cutthroat. That said, neither you or your competitors are permitted to try and openly sabotage each other's efforts. Several clients have come to us here at Gatlin Voelker, PLLC questioning the legality of their competitors' practices. If you have the same question, it is likely because you feel that your business or brand is either being attacked or unjustly taken advantage of. Knowing which business practices are prohibited by law can help guide your decision making in dealing with a ruthless rival organization. 

Some might say that whether or not a business practice is unfair or deceptive is a subjective matter. Fortunately, the law defines exactly what is and is not allowed. Section 4165.02 of Ohio's Revised Code defines deceptive trade practices in the state. Those that may negatively impact your business may include one of your competitors: 

  • Passing of your goods or services as its own
  • Causing confusion as to the source, certification or sponsorship of certain goods or services
  • Wrongly implying an association with your company
  • Falsely claiming to have your company's support or endorsement to offer certain goods or services
  • Disparaging the goods or services your company offers by misrepresenting facts

Can you get workers' compensation if you are self-employed?

Being self-employed comes with many perks. You get to be your own boss, create your own work hours and decide how long your commute is. However, it also comes with some downsides. You have to pay your own taxes and be responsible for your own insurance, retirement and other benefits. You may wonder about workers' compensation. While you do not have an employer to handle workers' compensation for you, the Small Business Administration explains that you can get your own insurance. 

Workers' compensation is designed to help you make an income when you are unable to work due to being injured while on the job. In a traditional situation, your employer pays for the insurance, but when you are your own boss, you have to get the insurance coverage. You are not required by law to have it, but it can be a good idea if you work in a profession where injuries are common or if you would have major financial issues if you did get injured and were unable to work. 

Excessive noise damages more than your hearing

If you work in an industry where high levels of noise are prevalent, you likely take precautions to guard your hearing. Perhaps you wear protective ear equipment or limit your exposure to the noise. You may find the drive home in silence much better than cranking loud music after a long day on the job. Not only does the quiet relieve the ringing in your ears, but it seems to allow you to decompress.

That may be because the noise of your job is affecting you in other ways besides damaging your hearing. While you would expect that exposure to loud or prolonged noise would compromise your hearing, new research shows noise may cause other serious health issues.

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Gatlin Voelker,PLLC

Gatlin Voelker, PLLC
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Fort Mitchell, KY 41017

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