Despite not being an attorney, I find myself commenting on legal issues from time to time. This is both because I find the law fascinating—yeah, I actually said that—and because being in the business consulting business makes it so that I need to have a layman’s understanding of how the law works in the real world. This dovetails with our Intellectual Property Consulting Services.
So imagine how many ways I got to thinking when this piece ran in The New York Times a few weeks ago. The short of it is that the small town of Milton Washington has abolished their bicycle helmet laws. Milton hasn’t decided that bicycle safety is any less important than it used to be, but has taken this unusual step to avoid being sued by people who get hurt while riding bicycles after not being stopped for failing to wear bicycle helmets.
Read that again. Take a step back. Try to get on with your day.
Remember when McDonald’s started putting warnings on coffee cups letting you know that since coffee is hot it would be a bad idea to spill it on yourself? I’m not sure whether this is exactly like or exactly the opposite of that, but I’m sure of this much: it’s real business change.
When I was negotiating to do the Search Engine Optimization for the Lasek Eye Surgeon who was starting a non-sexual escort service, one of the things I pointed out to him was that in my not-an-attorney understanding of things he might be creating a legal liability for himself by having the escorts he hired sign an agreement specifying that they were non-sexual escorts. Milton Washington seems to be following advice much like mine; by taking any responsibility for something you become totally responsible. Maybe it’s better to ignore the issue.
Mind boggling? You bet. And for the most part it raises a lot more questions than it provides answers, although I do feel a little bit better about the several tickets I’ve received in New York City for driving without a seat belt; those cops that I always thought were either chasing revenue or had nothing better to do had to ticket me or I could sue them for not! 😉
All of which makes me see this as a great opportunity to point you back at several odd legal issue I’ve written about in the past and that you ignore at your own peril on the path to business change. Just yesterday I told you about how the iPad being “cool” has actually caused it to have a weaker patent claim, but here are more examples of oddness in the law and how it effects business change:
- How The Facebook LIKE Button Could Land You In Court
- Stealing Movies and Music On-Line Is Now Completely Legal in the USA
- It MIGHT be Illegal to Read Your Employees’ E-mail
- Do NOT Ask for Your Employees’ Facebook Passwords
Business Changes change the law . . . or the law changes how you need to look at business change. Do you want to talk about it? You can reach me here.