What is a contract? More than just an idle or gratuitous promise, a contract arises at law when two or more persons agree to bind themselves to mutual legal obligations by an exchange of “consideration,” or things of value. These things might be performing tasks, providing personal property, or agreeing to provide these things once one or more conditions are met. While parties do not usually have to put a contract in writing for a court to enforce a contract, usually it is a good idea. Here are some simple reasons why.
We have all heard of trade secrets–things like the formula for Coca-Cola, WD-40, or the filling of Twinkies. Trade secrets are much more than recipes, however. They include things like the New York Times methodology for what constitutes a best-seller, which the company intentionally protects as a trade secret. But what qualifies as a trade secret? How “secret” does it have to be? Your company or business venture may have, and may have already lost, a number of trade secrets without even knowing it. Learning what they are, how to protect them, and their value can bring big benefits to your business.
Who among us hasn’t experienced that recurring moment of frustration when signing onto a new online service and that dreaded little window opens, allowing you to read the numerous pages of terms and conditions of use at a generous clip of only 4 to 5 lines at a time? And who among us hasn’t started to read them, only to scan and scroll progressively faster until reaching the bottom, as if the really egregious terms might appear in bold red type that you easily will spot while speeding by? How about that palpable recipe of consternation, doubt and despair that sets in as you hover over the “I Agree” button that unlocks the door to an exciting new online world to which you absolutely must have access in order to share the latest video of your cat chasing that red light up the wall?