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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What Should Businesses Do Now About the Coming New Domain Names?

Monday, June 25th, 2012

On June 13, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (“ICANN”) revealed the applications for new generic top-level domain names (“gTLD’s in net-speak). Businesses should plan now for the threats they pose. A gTLD is the part of the domain name after the last dot, like .com or .org. ICANN permitted any organization to Read the full article…

Don’t Get Your Hopes Up Over Fighting Google AdWords Ads

Monday, June 18th, 2012

A recent decision by the U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Virginia and four other states) might have given trademark owners hope that they can stop a certain kind of advertising on Google by their competitors. I write to crush that hope. You have almost no chance of stopping Google here. In this Read the full article…

How to Deal with “Non-Negotiable” Business Contracts

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

If you have a small business and you are presented with a “non-negotiable” contract, what can you do to protect yourself? I got thinking about this because of my own position as a small businessman. I negotiate technology contracts (such as software licenses) for a living, yet, because of our law firm’s small size, the Read the full article…

Patenting 101 – Steps, Costs and Other Tips

Monday, March 19th, 2012

I’ve been getting a heightened level of calls in recent months from first-time independent inventors interesting in patenting, so perhaps the economy is getting better. If you’ve been thinking about patenting, here’s the 101 on cost and process: Searching First Usually you do patent searching first and then apply for a patent if the search Read the full article…

Don’t Open a Musical Pandora’s Box at Your Business

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

I love Pandora, the online build-your-own station music service. Indeed, I wonder if I’m the only guy on the planet who has J. S. Bach’s “Toccata and Fugue in D Minor,” Marvin Gaye’s “Inner City Blues” and Steely Dan’s “Any World” on the same station. What if I have such confidence in my obviously sublime Read the full article…

Act Fast to Protect Yourself from the New Domain Names

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The process just launched for what could be hundreds of new generic top-level domain names (“gTLD’s”). If you want to protect your business from cybersquatting and opportunity loss in those domain names, you need to get moving now. A top-level domain name refers to the part of the domain name after the last dot, such Read the full article…

Police Your Trademarks or They Will Crumble

Monday, December 26th, 2011

Here’s a question for business owners: If you spent a fortune to build a new headquarters for your business, should you save money by not maintaining and securing the property? Would it be better to let the building be looted and crumble? Of course not, yet business owners commonly choose such false savings when it Read the full article…

Does the Employer or Employee Own the Twitter Account?

Monday, November 28th, 2011

Do your employees use Twitter to promote your company or its products or services? If so, think about how to keep control over those Twitter accounts if tweeting employees depart. In case you don’t know how Twitter works, if you have a Twitter account, you can post messages of up to 140 characters. Anyone can Read the full article…

Consider the Total Legal and Management Effort Required to Move to the Cloud

Monday, October 24th, 2011

Many businesses are eager to move all or part of their business computing systems into the cloud. Before taking the leap, give thought to the total cost and legal issues associated with such a move. What constitutes cloud computing is fiercely debated, but I define cloud computing as using software and/or data storage that is Read the full article…

Ten Things about the New Patent Law

Monday, September 26th, 2011

The President recently signed legislation that makes big changes to patent law. Here’s a list of ten (hopefully) interesting things about it: 1. The new law is 150 pages long and is vague in many parts. It will take about a decade of judicial interpretation to make this law as clear as our old patent Read the full article…