The Five C’s of Software Licensing

The Five C’s of Software Licensing

Software licensing can be a daunting combination where the perplexing realm of technology meets legal jargon. Defined as legal documents or contracts that govern the use and distribution of software, these licenses provide necessary protection for your business. Without proper licensing, you may be prone to someone stealing your intellectual property, or you may unwittingly commit copyright infringement. As a small business owner, it is essential to understand the importance of software licensing in order to protect your business’s brand or product and to avoid illegally using someone else’s. When the terms and contracts are beyond an IT issue, Attorney Elizabeth Lewis will help you work through it. Here are 5 essential areas of software licensing.

  1. Copyright
  2. Contracts
  3. Codes
  4. Confidentiality
  5. Compliance

1. Copyright

Whether you are a mom and pop store or an expanding enterprise, your intellectual property is as valuable as your merchandise. A lot of work goes into creating marketing concepts, a logo, a business plan, and overall operations/procedures. If you neglect to protect these assets through software copyright, you will be defenseless against others profiting from what you created. Registering your software copyright with the U.S. copyright office reinforces your copyrights, especially if you ever have to take someone to court. A small business attorney will help you determine what aspects of your business – a website, a product, or an idea – need to be protected by a software license.

2. Contracts

No one hires a disgruntled employee, but people can become dissatisfied over time and want to damage your business. There are contracts to safeguard your company from any employees who may try to exploit the knowledge they have accessed while working for you. Non-compete agreements are clauses under which employees cannot create businesses like yours while you employ them or start a similar one for a determined amount of time after they leave your employment; however they are only allowed in certain situations in Colorado so it is important to know if one will really protect you or if you need to use other means as well. Other employment agreements state simply that you own any work that your employees do for you. Confidentiality agreements protect your trade secrets and prohibit others from giving damaging insight into the operations of your business. An attorney will
help you take all of the necessary precautions to protect your intellectual property and represent you in the event of these types of theft.

3. Codes

Open source code licenses allow anyone to use, modify, and share your licensed software. You may not be able to govern every single user’s actions, but you are still protected as the original creator and are entitled to credit for your contributions. These licenses can make it easy for others to share, contribute, and build upon your project without having to obtain special permission. Issues with noncompliance and proper licensing can arise when using open source code licenses. An attorney will help you with these issues as well as any open-source versus proprietary software dilemmas.

4. Confidentiality

Your business’s success depends on your competitive advantage, something you can maintain by protecting your intellectual property. Keeping your trade secrets a secret takes measures, including confidentiality agreements and nondisclosure agreements. Software licenses keep some of your most valuable information – ideas, practices, applications, websites – safely guarded.

5. Compliance

We have all scrolled rapidly to the end of the terms of an agreement and clicked “I agree” without necessarily comprehending or even reading all of the words. As a software user, it is crucial to obtain your software through legal means, know precisely who is allowed to use it and how many copies are covered by the license, and read and understand the license agreement. Many small business owners do not purchase enough copies of software, thinking they can use one copy for everyone. This will inevitably lead to consequences from having your software disabled to facing huge fines or litigation. A small business attorney will ensure you have taken the necessary precautions and represent you in the event of a software licensing violation.

If you need help with software licensing, contact me, Elizabeth Lewis, at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com

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Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Small Business Work-Life Balance

Work-life balance is one of those issues we often hear about when it comes to employees, but what about small business owners and entrepreneurs?

Being a small business owner is challenging. It takes a lot of time and energy in order to keep the business going and growing. This can often lead to the assumption that the more time you put into something, namely, your business, then the more you will get out of it. Right? Maybe, maybe not, but you should try and be smart about it.

Consider this, studies show that the belief that multitasking is a powerful productivity tool is a myth. If you are in the middle of a personal, non-business task at home for example, then it might be a good idea to finish that up and then take care of that business matter later. Of course there are always exceptions, emergencies do happen, but do not automatically assume that making your business your number one priority will always lead you to better business results. If you come back to that business task with your full attention, you will likely complete it better and in less time.

Another way to help you obtain a better work-life balance would be to set aside one day out of the week (or maybe even the whole weekend if possible) to not do anything business-related. Think carefully about what day you choose, and make sure it is one that can work for you. For example, if your business gets an important delivery on Saturdays where there are commonly questions or problems with it, then that might not be a good day to choose. This can allow you to decompress, get some greater perspective, and then be ready to jump back into work more inspired and reinvigorated. Burnout is real, and taking steps to overcome it or prevent it now will reward you and your business over the long-term.

A common problem with work-life balance for small business owners is when you operate a home-based business. When you are in this situation, it can be hard to ever feel like you are off-the-clock and actually able to relax in your own home. If you are in this situation, consider limiting all of your business operations, equipment, inventory, et cetera, to one or two rooms in your home. If you have business items strewn across the house, you will likely find yourself thinking about work everywhere you go at home. Additionally, if you do all of your work at home, then it might be a good idea to keep a strict schedule for yourself of working hours. Get in a routine. Together, these tactics should train your brain to focus better on your business by concentrating both when and where you work in a common and predictable way for yourself.

Whatever your small business’ circumstances, it is crucial that you give it 100%, but you cannot do that if you are trying to work 100% of the time. We are all human after all, and we need to eat, sleep, get some rest, and spend some time with our families in order to be at our best on the job. So try and strive for a reasonable work-life balance for yourself, and you will likely be a better person and business owner for it. Lastly, remember not to feel guilty for taking some time out or else you likely will not experience the benefits of rest and balancing your work and the rest of your life. Just give it a try and see if it works for you.

If you need legal advice for your business, or are ready to start a new business of your own, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Craft Beer is a Billion-Dollar Economic Driver in CO

As today is National Beer Day, what better way to celebrate than talking about beer! According to a study released by the University of Colorado’s Leeds School of Business in association with the Colorado Brewers Guild, small, locally-owned breweries had an overall economic impact of 1.15 billion dollars on the Colorado Economy for the year of 2014, and it employs over 6,000 workers in Colorado.

This is good news for Colorado as one of the top craft beer brewing states in the country. At the end of last year’s count, there were 261 craft breweries in Colorado, with more and more popping up all the time. The latest figures now have the count at over 300! Altogether, this means that you likely don’t have to go very far to find excellent beer in or near your neighborhood. These Colorado craft beer brewers are made up of small businesses that simply love great beer and Colorado. They just want to share their passion with others, and consumers have been buying.

Overall, the craft beer takeover is not showing any signs of slowing down yet, but how long can it continue to grow at these rates? This is growing concern. How much is too much craft beer in one area? As far as the national numbers go, craft beer is still only sitting at just over 12% of the beer market share, but more locally, the market may be experiencing a lot more crowding. The growth and interest in craft beer is likely making the bigger, national brewers nervous too, who may be looking to buy some of the smaller brewers or get more creative with their own beer offerings to try to compete.

Another ongoing concern for craft brewers is a potential ballot initiative that would allow for grocery stores and other big retailers to be able to start selling full-strength beer inside, an issue we discussed previously here. They fear this could lead to more consumers opting for buying some of the more national brand offerings at these larger stores rather than going to their local liquor stores who tend to have large selections of local, craft beer offerings. Then there is also the impact on local small business liquor store owners being affected by the change as well. Craft beer is certainly an industry worth watching here in Colorado, whether you work in small or big business.

If you need legal help for your craft brewery, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Is Now a Good Time for You to Start a Business?

Often, the start of a new year can raise a lot of different feelings in us. What do I want to change? What are my goals? Will 2016 be the year I actually use my gym membership?

You may have turned the corner into the new year determined to cease working for “the man” and ready to strike out on your own. If so, congratulations! While deciding to start your own business is an exciting idea, it’s also important to remember that it’s a significant undertaking, no matter the scale.

Several steps are involved in starting, getting up to speed, and then maintaining your new company. The most useful thing you can do at the outset is make sure you’re as ready as possible.

If the new year has indeed gotten you up close and personal with a switch over to the entrepreneur track, consider these things first.

Jumping in with both feet to a new business takes commitment. Do a gut check: are you passionate about your idea? Do you believe in it so deeply that it will carry you through the long hours and lean times in the start-up phase? Your business concept doesn’t matter as much as your belief in it. That becomes your lifeblood once the initial excitement has passed.

Ask yourself how well you tolerate risk. Some people thrive on it, but for others it’s more difficult. Your business isn’t guaranteed to succeed, no matter how much you think it will. Factors out of your control such as location, political volatility, or cultural change can make or break a company overnight. Will you be able to deal with the ups and downs that usually come with a business start-up — or even its potential failure?

Starting a business means that you will be chief cook and bottle washer for a while — everything becomes your responsibility initially. You have to get your idea out there in front of people and wear several different hats in the beginning stages: sales, HR, administrative, marketing, financial. Is taking on major responsibility a good fit for you? And are you nimble enough to handle it?

Included under the umbrella of responsibility is the ability to make decisions, many of which can be challenging in a small business atmosphere. Do you wear decision-making well? Is this an area in which your strengths consistently show up?

Lastly, the elusive work-life balance. Any entrepreneur who has started her own business can tell you that you go full speed at the outset, and sometimes it doesn’t slow down as quickly as you would like. You may lose time with family, friends, or hobbies that feed you in other ways. Is this the right time in your life to devote all your energies to this undertaking, and do you have the support of others to do so?

Starting your own business is an exciting ride, and one that should be undertaken with realistic consideration. If now is your time, dive in! And let me know how I can support you.

If you need legal help, don’t hesitate to contact me at the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Small Business Attorney. Phone: 720-258-6647. Email: elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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Your Small Business and Social Responsibility

In a previous post, we discussed how to craft an elevator pitch for your business or even for yourself. The key is to come up with a simple but powerful way to describe what problem you solve and how that can really make a difference. In this post, we will talk about some more marketing ideas that can help your small business shine.

The first is to highlight the social impact and responsibility of your company. One survey found that 55% of global online consumers across 60 countries were willing to pay more for products and services offered by companies committed to positive social and environmental impact.

As a small business, you may not think that you are poised to compete with bigger companies when it comes to sustainable practices or changing the world, but really, that is not all that social responsibility is about. As a small business, you are actually better situated to really own that message of social responsibility because you have a trait that bigger companies often lack, which is authenticity. As a small business, you can leverage your smaller size by highlighting the positive impact that you generate even with fewer people.

Social responsibility isn’t something that only big companies with big ideals can achieve. No, social responsibility is something that bigger companies have to remind themselves about, it is a part of the entrepreneurial spirit of doing something differently for the better and remembering the people that make it all possible in the process.

You can start by looking at things your business is already doing. Are you locally owned and operated? Tell people. Are you following sustainable business practices and partnering with other businesses that do the same? Tell people. Do you use local sources for your products or make your final products in Colorado? Tell people. Even if you are not currently following some of these practices, be sure that you announce it if you do make such a change.

Consumers are more conscious about the purchasing decisions they are making. As we talked about in another post about being a customer of your own business, consumers are likely to research their purchasing decisions online. Consumers therefore want more information about what they are buying, so why not tell them? Informational costs are low when it comes to your website and social media pages, so tell them about the good things your business is doing and they will likely be more interested.

Alternatively, if your business is not following some of those practices, that does not mean you don’t have great characteristics about your small business that you should market. For example, if your business is more service-oriented, you can try telling the stories of yourself, your employees, and also your clients. You can tell them about charities and other community projects that you, your employees, and your business all help to support. When people develop a personal connection with the people of a particular business, they are more likely to keep going back and tell other people about it. This is why great customer and client service can be so effective.

Are you or employees of your business involved with any charities? Tell people about it, and see if you can get more employees and partners with your business to get on board too. Overall, this will be something both good for others and for your business, and that is what social responsibility marketing is all about.

If you need legal help for you business, then don’t hesitate to reach out and contact the Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C., home of your Denver Business Attorney, Elizabeth Lewis, at 720-258-6647 or email her at elizabeth.lewis@eclewis.com.

Contact Us Today

Law Office of E.C. Lewis, P.C.
Your Denver Business Attorney
501 S. Cherry St., Suite 1100
Denver, CO 80264
720-258-6647
Elizabeth.Lewis@eclewis.com

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