John B.


Lawrence E. Laubscher, Jr.


Ian D. Titley

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John Farmer's Column  

John wears two hats – columnist and lawyer. He writes a monthly column, Leading-Edge Law, for the Richmond Times-Dispatch on breaking legal issues in the e-commerce, intellectual property and high-tech fields. He’s been writing columns since 1998.
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Do Your Legal Research Before Your Kid Picks a College

Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Yes, this is a law-and-business column. But one of the biggest financial expenditures you’ll ever make is paying to send your kid to college. Because it’s the season for high-school seniors to accept college admission offers, and because high-school juniors are forming their college-application lists, take a moment to research whether you will be at Read the full article…

What Can You Do to Preempt the Nutcase Complainer Who Might Trash Your Business Online?

Tuesday, March 21st, 2017

Every small business fears the online review by the nutcase who trashes your business. Because a small business might get only a few reviews, a real stinker could really hurt. Related to this, a new federal law prohibits businesses from using form contracts to prevent consumers from posting reviews about those businesses. While you need Read the full article…

How to Deal with Businesses with Similar Names on Social Media

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2017

Impersonation on social media can be funny, unless you’re the target. Speaking of Target, that company got humorously spoofed on Facebook. In 2015, Target announced all store signage would omit gender references, such as “boy’s clothes” and “girl’s toys.” Many consumers complained on Facebook about political correctness. Having fun with that, someone registered a Facebook Read the full article…

Trademark Lessons Learned in Local Adult Beverage Battle

Tuesday, January 17th, 2017

“Start with deeper pockets and get started sooner on trademarks.” Those are the words of Jerome Snyder, owner of Vahseer Meadworks, describing his recent trademark fight with Dogfish Head Brewery. Vahseer, located in AltaVista (just south of Lynchburg), makes mead, which is an alcoholic drink created by fermenting honey with water and other ingredients. Snyder Read the full article…

Recent Court Decision Creates Trademark Opportunity and Threat to Small Business

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

It is often challenging and expensive for a small business to federally register a trademark, which is a product, service, or business name. That’s because it’s frequently hard to prove that the trademark is used in interstate commerce, which is required for federal registration. A recent court decision effectively wiped out the interstate commerce requirement. Read the full article…

Do Your Financial Homework Before Going to Law School

Tuesday, November 22nd, 2016

You don’t have to read The Paper Chase to know that the academic demands of law school are immense. But, in light of today’s poor legal job market, the most important studying should be over whether to go to law school. It has never been easier to get into law school, and it never has Read the full article…

Is Everyone “All In” on Committing Their IP to Your Business?

Tuesday, October 18th, 2016

At the signing of the Declaration of Independence, Benjamin Franklin quipped, “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” The same “all in” approach is crucial to giving a new business venture a chance to succeed – either a startup or an existing company launching a new product or Read the full article…

Banning Negative Reviews in Consumer Contracts Might Generate Backlash and Bad Legal Results

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Do you know what the Streisand Effect is? Prestigious Pets, a pet-care company in Dallas, Texas, learned the hard way. In 2002, Streisand complained that an online album showing aerial pictures of the California coastline included a photo of her Malibu mansion. She felt the photo invaded her privacy, so her attorney sent a letter Read the full article…

Obama vs. Trump, Plagiarism vs. Copyright, and Your Next Business Presentation

Monday, August 1st, 2016

Remember the controversy over whether Melania Trump plagiarized a speech by Michelle Obama when Trump gave her speech at the Republican National Convention? What can you learn from that incident that will keep you from getting in legal trouble in your next business presentation? The news chatter concerned whether the similarity constituted plagiarism, which is Read the full article…

Legal Issues to Watch for When Using Pokemon Go to Promote Your Business

Wednesday, July 20th, 2016

Would your business like to use the Pokemon Go craze to attract customers? What legal issues do you need to watch out for when doing so? Is it OK to make posts on Facebook and Instagram and to send tweets about Pokemon Go creatures found at your business? Some businesses go further. The Center of Read the full article…