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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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…

What Do You Do When Your Lawyer Leaves the Firm or Your Law Firm Breaks Up?

Tuesday, June 28th, 2016

“Do you know how copper wire was invented? Two lawyers were fighting over a penny.” − Unattributed joke seen online. I don’t understand why lawyers get prominent placement in newspaper announcements of new hires and employment moves. We’re not a big deal. Maybe it’s because we can be such drama queens in our relationships with Read the full article…

Don’t Let a Careless Whisper Sink Your Business: Seven Things About the New Federal Trade Secrets Law

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

Do you feel so unsure about the new federal trade secrets law? I wonder what 80’s pop star George Michael would say about it. Can you spot the prescient commentary in his song lyrics? 1. New Federal Intellectual Property Right. President Obama just signed into law federal protection for trade secrets. Previously, with small exceptions, Read the full article…

It’s Time to Think About Protecting Your Trademarks in Spanish

Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

Even if President Trump gets that wall built, you need to think about protecting your trademarks from infringement in Spanish. Let’s say you own a long-standing real estate business called RIVERSIDE REALTY. You may be able to use trademark law to stop someone else from using the same name for the same type of business. Read the full article…

Be Careful When Doing Tribute Advertising

Wednesday, March 23rd, 2016

It’s the season to salute star athletes. March Madness heroes. Hall of Fame inductions. Graduating high-school stars. We have some great basketball players to salute here in Virginia. U.Va.’s Malcolm Brogdon won ACC Player of the Year and ACC Defensive Player of the Year, the first time someone has won both awards. He’s one of Read the full article…

What Does the Death of Justice Scalia Mean for Business?

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

I looked at the docket of cases that the Supreme Court accepted for decision during the current term, which began in October and will conclude in late spring. Here are cases that matter to business where Justice Scalia could have been the swing vote, but the case was not decided before his death: • Whether Read the full article…

Thanks to a Recent Decision, Things Are Looking Good for the REDSKINS Trademark Registrations

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

A recent federal court of appeals decision makes it likely that the trademark registrations owned by the Redskins for their team name won’t be cancelled. You probably already knew that a federal trial court in Northern Virginia ruled last summer that these registrations must be cancelled. The federal trademarks act bans the registration of trademarks Read the full article…

Be Careful Sharing Sweet Little Lies Online

Tuesday, February 16th, 2016

You find juicy dirt online and want to share it with your cyber friends. But the gossip turns out to be false and defamatory. Can you be held liable for posting or emailing a link to it? Recent court cases make it unlikely that you commit defamation just by passing on a link to the Read the full article…