Shark Bites

2016 Schedule

Please register for each month’s Shark Bite at our Events Page.    

Copyright Ownership: Copyrights and Copywrongs 

We will take a look at the evolving law of copyright and its application to the use of others’ works in creative media, such as music, film and artwork. We’ll also look at and listen to a number of fun infringement scenarios that have made their way to the news headlines recently en route to understanding the right and wrong ways to utilize others’ works in your own.

Entertainment Media Licensing for Public Places 

So, everyone probably knows, or at least presumes, that a sports bar has to have some licensing in place to show “the Big Game,” otherwise known as the Super Bowl in normal non-legal-pressured conversations, but most businesses don’t fully appreciate just how deeply the licensing need runs. Music playing at your office, or even just from the receptionist’s computer? CDs or radio playing softly in your retail shop? Television running continuously somewhere for guests?  Planning an office party or reception with a groovy cover band for entertaining your clients?   Ever added a few cool tunes to a PowerPoint presentation to help jazz it up a bit? Don’t be one of the many businesses that finds out the hard way after receiving a nastygram from a rights holder of what you should have done to secure the rights to the media you use.  Join us this month to understand when and what licenses you might need to conduct business-as-usual.

  • Blacksburg: February 23
  • Roanoke: February 24
  • Richmond: February 25

Business Partnerships—What You Need to Know

Planning a new business venture with a friend, a coworker or a family member?  To ensure that your personal relationship stays healthy and on course and that your professional relationship grows effectively, you need to take the proper steps.  This month we will be exploring the various types of business entities available to new and growing businesses, the reasons for choosing one over the other and some necessary additional parameters you will want to reduce to writing to keep your relationships intact, provide adequate protections for yourself and your business, and eliminate, or at least reduce, headaches down the road.

  • Blacksburg: March 29
  • Roanoke: March 30
  • Richmond: March 31

Contracts for Distributing Your Digital Content

Most businesses depend on the publication and distribution of digital content of some sort. But many have inadequate protections in place to ensure it’s secure from competitors or even customers who may wish to make their own use of it. This month, we will explore the various ways you can protect your online content to keep others from running amok with it, such as terms of use, privacy policies, and end user license agreements. We’ll also talk about copyright processes and procedures under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act that will help shield your business from liability to others.

  • Blacksburg: April 26
  • Roanoke: April 27

Trademark & Brand Development 

Golden arches, a bitten apple silhouette, a green and white mermaid, a black “swoosh” – you hardly need the product identified to think of McDonald’s, Apple, Starbucks, and Nike. Businesses benefit from distinct logos, names and other elements of trade dress. They not only promote and identify the businesses, products and services, but they also become marks of quality. Just like their larger counterparts, small businesses and startups should give equal care and attention to selecting names, logos and trade dress that are protectable and enforceable against others. Join us this month for the legal lowdown on branding your business that will push you ahead of the competition – and keep you there.

  • Blacksburg: May 24
  • Roanoke: May 25

Alcohol Marketing, Labeling and Advertising

The craft beer movement has grown steadily in Virginia, with the Roanoke Valley leading the charge lately.  Operating and marketing a brewery business is no simple undertaking, though.  The need to be creative, unique and catchy in advertising and labeling has to be balanced against some overly restrictive, and not necessarily readily known, laws and regulations concerning both.  Join us this month for a fun and engaging look at brewery marketing, labeling and advertising and coverage of some specific laws and regulations brewery owners and marketers need to know to keep the taps open and brews pouring smoothly.

  • Blacksburg: June 28
  • Roanoke: June 29

Contracts are Like Good Fences – Better Relationships Result

Robert Frost once penned “Good fences make good neighbors,” the meaning of which is, of course, that parameters and boundaries around a relationship better define it and allow it to flourish and grow. In similar fashion, better contracts make for better relationships of all types – with partners, vendors, customers, employees, independent contractors, etc. But what makes for a “better contract” is in the details often overlooked by parties trying to do it themselves. Join us this month as we explore the most critical elements and issues you need to understand and incorporate for creating better contracts, and better relationships, for your business.

  • Blacksburg: July 26
  • Roanoke: July 27

Contests—Legit vs Illegal Gambling

Want to hold Bingo night at your church next Wednesday? Want to do a raffle at your next business event? You may be within your legal rights to do so, if you’re a charity, since Virginia law allows a not-for-profit charity to hold raffles and bingo games without a permit. But there are still a lot of regulations of which you need to be aware and rules you have to follow. Join us this month for a look at Virginia’s charitable gaming regulations and learn how to legally add a little fun to your events while keeping the organization and its principles out of hot water with the authorities.

  • Blacksburg: August 23
  • Roanoke: August 24

Grant Management

More and more we are asked by for-profit and not-for-profit entities for assistance with problems arising under grant-funded work. Whether you are the grant recipient or are contracted to provide products or services to the grant-funded project, there are hurdles and pitfalls of which you need to be aware to stay out of trouble. Join us for lunch and a discussion of what you need to know when involved in grant management.

  • Blacksburg: September 27
  • Roanoke: September 28

IP Ownership Rights

Theirs, yours or fair game — who owns what rights in creative works and inventions? If you didn’t create it, can you use it? If you did create it, what can you do to protect it? How do licenses both expand and restrict access to intellectual property? What about the impact of widespread Internet and social media use — how does this new era of “electronic sharing” change things, or does it? Join us as we look at the ever-changing landscape of IP ownership rights in the digital age.

      • Blacksburg: October 25
      • Roanoke: October 26

Non-competition, Non-Solicitation and Non-Disclosure Agreements – The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. 

You probably hear a lot about them. We see a lot of them. And we tear a lot of them to shreds, both figuratively and literally. Employers have an interest in minimizing damage from former employees competing against them. Employers have an interest in avoiding being sucked into a legal battle with their new employees’ former employers. Employees want the best of both worlds – to secure prosperous employment opportunities but to be able to come and go without restriction when circumstances change. Courts expect parties to adhere to their agreements, especially when they’re in writing, but they also will only enforce such agreements when validly drawn. Whether you are an employer or an employee, you need to know the rules for restrictive covenants, lest the terms on which you thought the employment relationship was based disappear before your very eyes when challenged. Join us this month as we give a thorough look at just what it takes in Virginia to have valid restrictive covenants attached to employment relationships.

      • Blacksburg: November 15
      • Roanoke: November 16


      • In lieu of a Shark Bite this month, we will be doing a special program on December 20 on the new overtime law.  Please see our Events page for more information.









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