Category: Business litigation lawyers

patent

After the Patent Expires—Understanding the Public Domain

Intellectual property law is complex, and many entrepreneurs may not only feel too busy to understand IP in terms of application and registration, ownership—and ultimately, protection of the future—but they may also be intimidated by the entire process, and especially when filing a patent. No matter what though, IP is important to your own personal creations and those of your business. Intellectual property allows the global economy to thrive as invention and innovation are encouraged around the world. With your intellectual property duly protected, you also then have the free time required to focus on your business and expand research and development activity.

Patents can be extremely important for inventors, and especially valuable to a business focused on creating products and processes, for example. Dealing with a patent, and applying for one is best achieved with the help of an experienced intellectual property attorney who can help you determine what type of protection you actually need as well as searching to ensure there is not already a patent for an identical or similar invention. A skilled attorney will help you through the overall process of applying for a patent, as well as dealing with issues that may arise before you gain final approval. Getting a patent usually takes around a year or more, and you may have to jump through some hoops before you attain your goal.

But what happens if you go to all that effort, not only to bring forth innovation but then also to apply and register it, only to have your patent expires after around 20 years? While this can be good for the public domain in terms of innovations and processes that are in demand, you may be worried about what will happen once details of your invention emerge. And while you may be able to hold onto some of your trade secrets, once a patent is in the public domain that means that others have access to your prized work whether you wanted that to be the case or not.

There is also the chance that you may release your work into the public domain deliberately, allowing anyone to use it without permission—or you may release it into the public domain with restrictions on it too. None of these actions are recommended without the help of an experienced intellectual property attorney, however. The Bolender Law Firm can assist you in all intellectual property matters. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

common errors

Avoid the Courtroom: Understanding the Most Common Errors in Business

Owning a business may be one of the most exciting endeavors you ever undertake, and undoubtedly you will make some common errors. However, it is no secret that being an entrepreneur is also full of challenges. While you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are your own boss, you can set your own hours, and can make the rules for the most part, the responsibilities can be endless. The goal is usually to create a product and keep the customer happy, but you must also consider many other behind-the-scenes issues.

Finding yourself embroiled in a lawsuit may be inevitable if you are in business for a long period of time, but there are preventative measures you can take, to include:

  • Creating partnership agreements – your partners may be people you have known for nearly your whole life and trust more than anyone else, but it is important to be realistic and realize that things could go south later, or one or more of you could opt to leave the company. It is critical to have an outline for many different details, starting with the basics such as the hierarchy of the company, responsibilities and titles, profit distribution schedules, to agreeing on what will happen if one partner wants to leave the company or passes away.
  • Protect your intellectual property – this means treating all your branding mechanisms with care, to include your trademark, service mark, and any patents your company may have created, along with any copyrights which are generally defined as expressions of art.
  • Be sure to have employees classified correctly – this is especially important in California with independent contractors, where employees may be categorized incorrectly, and the company may find themselves penalized. Also, be sure independent contractors have a solid agreement signed before they begin working for you to include the span of the project, their duties, confidentiality, and how ownership of any innovations they create while at your company are to be handled later.
  • Employee pay – this is one of the biggest reasons that businesses fall into lawsuits, as overtime may be miscalculated, a paycheck may be late, or there could be errors in accounting. Always make sure that you or your accounting team are completely on top of paying for your employees; after all: that is why they are there!

Do you need legal assistance with a partnership or business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Why You Should Speak to Your Attorney About Non Compete Contracts

Most business owners are aware that their companies are only as good as their employees, but paperwork like non compete contracts are often necessary. You can have the best business model in the world and the greatest product to sell, but without an excellent team of employees to keep all the cogs in the machine spinning, there is nothing. Whether you are a new business assembling a team, or a well-established company maintaining a group of great employees and hiring intermittently, you may need to farm work out to independent contractors at times or bring them in as specialists.

Independent contractors may only be part of minor projects at times, but in other scenarios, they could be responsible for the bulk of the work in an important project, and they could also be the ones behind creating a significant intellectual property like patents. And while such creative results could be an incredible boost to your business, even opening new doors to innovation and establishing your position within an industry, it is critical to protect not only information and data surrounding your business but also whatever products are created there in exchange for payment to full-time employees or contractors.

Questions regarding how to handle hiring independent contractors are very common, and especially in California where it is vital to make sure that they are classified properly, along with following all IRS guidelines. Along with that, you should speak with an experienced business attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm about creating a comprehensive independent contractor’s agreement. Your attorney may create specific contracts each time depending on who you hire and the importance of the work, or they may be able to help you develop a template that you can repeatedly follow throughout the years in hiring.

The contract/agreement should outline how long they will work for you and in what capacity, pay information and any benefits offered to contractors, confidentiality regarding the company itself and any projects they are working on, details on ownership rights and a clear description of repercussions should those be violated, along with any other details regarding their time of temporary employment (although feasibly this could be years). Your attorney may also want to create a nondisclosure agreement or make amendments later.

Do you need legal assistance with a business or contract issue? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

business partnerships

Business Partnerships: Do You Share the Same Future Vision?

Entering into business partnerships—and choosing the partner—can have a major impact on your business for decades to come, which is why you should share a future vision; in fact, you may not have formally chosen someone to share your company to begin with, but rather you may have worked together for years, and perhaps even before your business was started. Many business partners come up with an idea, product, or business model together, sometimes in high school or college, and work for years until they are actually able to open a company of their own.

You may spend more time with your business partner than you do your marriage partner in some cases, and at times the stakes may be high as you are forced to make serious professional and financial decisions that affect not only you and your ability to make an income, but that of your entire team of employees too. Because there will be many important decisions to be made over the years, it is important to work with someone who shares your vision.

Although you and your partner may have started a company together, and there was never any sort of selection or interviewing process, many details should be worked out as you create your business partnership contract with the help of your business attorney from an office like the Bolender Law Firm. Many of the details regarding your company vision should get worked out naturally when creating the contract, on deciding who will act as the head of the business or CEO, how profits will be paid out, how job duties will be designated, who will be in charge of the hiring and firing, and how shares will be passed on if a partner were to leave the company or to pass away unexpectedly.

A vision for the future is vital to the success of any company, so, along with many of your other employees most likely too, establish what you want to achieve in the present and in the long-term. Various business models should be created, with goals set and monitored closely. It is also critical to discuss how you want to hire employees, whether in part time or full-time capacity, or as independent contractors. You may also need to establish whether intellectual property requires registration, and how to handle such issues with contractors who could feasibly walk out the door with company designs.

While the challenges may be great, the rewards are often even greater when it comes to owning your own business. In many cases, every day is exciting, but most entrepreneurs or even large corporate owners will find themselves running into conflict at some point. Because of this, you should have a dispute resolution clause built into the business partnership contract. This can be created while everyone is still on good terms, allowing you to decide how any dispute would be decided—whether in arbitration or mediation—or litigation. You can also discuss who would be responsible for attorneys’ fees and where any proceedings will take place, in terms of the courthouse or county.

Do you need legal assistance with a partnership or business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm. Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

business partnership

The Business Partnership: Handling the Hierarchy

A business partnership may form for many different reasons. You may be working with someone that you have known almost your entire life, or for most of your business life anyway. A potential business partner may be someone you have worked with in college, innovating with technology or creating a unique business model. Some partners may come on at the founding of the company or later. They may be beneficial additions to the business as they complement your talents and those of others, offering different experiences and ways of doing things. Or perhaps they may be a partner offering to inject the company with capital—and hoping for a good return on their investment later.

The life of a business owner is very busy, overall—and while many entrepreneurs may find that to be a gross understatement—the bottom line is that you may not feel like you have a lot of time to spend on organizational duties for your corporation itself; however, building a solid foundation from the beginning helps promote a path to success later, and it is critical to take care of every aspect of that as soon as possible. This includes creating, reviewing, and signing partnership contracts as soon as any formal partnerships occur.

The partnership contract should consist of basic information regarding who is involved in one or more partnerships, along with any designated titles within the company. Whether you, or your partner, are CEO, CFO, COO, or any other type of officer, it should be noted in the contract. This allows for clear expectations within a business partnership, and especially if other specifics are listed in the contract such as delegation of duties. Creating and maintaining a hierarchy of the corporation results in clear expectations for everyone involved, wards off resentments later, and helps paint a solid picture for employees who should understand who is in charge, second in command, and holding positions on down the line.

The partnership contract should also include information like profit and loss distribution, information and agreements regarding how new partners will be taken on, as well as creating exit strategies for partners should they decide to leave the business. A dispute resolution clause should not be overlooked either as it is a great way to decide on how to handle any legal dispute ahead of time, including how legal fees are to be paid, and in what county such proceedings would be handled.

Do you need legal assistance with a partnership issue or business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

business partners

Business Partners: Resolving Disputes Within the Company

As a business owner today, there is more stress than ever for everyone from the owner to the cleaning crew. Competition can be fierce within nearly every industry—and especially depending on what specific products and services you provide. You may be continually concerned about keeping your team members happy and keeping them from going to the competition. If you have a great idea, others will follow suit and you may be street fighting in marketing and pricing to keep your place at the top in the neighborhood—whether running a restaurant, a computer repair shop, or a larger corporation.

If you have business partners, it is vital to have a strong partnership contract from the beginning. With the help of a skilled business partnership attorney, you can create a contract that outlines everyone’s titles, what they do in the company, outline when profits and pay are to be disbursed, and most importantly, offer a comprehensive explanation of the delegation of work. Money and job duties may be the stickiest points throughout the years in trying to get along with a partner.

One of the most important things you can do within your business partnership contract from the outset is to include a special clause for dispute resolution. Not only is it important to write this into your contract initially while you are still getting along, later if there is a dispute you will have already outlined how legal action is to be taken care of—whether through litigation, arbitration, or mediation, or other means. You and your partners may have even detailed where the dispute would be handled and who would pay attorney’s fees.

If you and your partner are both very invested in keeping the partnership going, mediation may be the best route, offering a more comfortable venue for discussing the issues at hand, over the courtroom—not to mention the amount of money that would be paid for litigation. With the help of a mediator or a skilled business attorney, hopefully you can save the partnership if it is agreed upon that is for the best of your company.

Do you have questions about a business issue, or do you need legal assistance regarding a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

business partner contracts

New Business Partner? Contracts May Need to Be Updated for Everyone

If you are the owner or a partner in a business, you may find yourself immersed in daily details. While your true job is to make sure that the clients keep coming in by the droves, you may often feel like you are able to do everything but that. Your team needs you, and you must not only be a great role model to them, but also pay them, offer enticing benefits, make sure everyone is being treated properly, and continue finding good hires as necessary. You must work with vendors—and these could be extremely long-term relationships, so they should stay as positive as possible, always. There may be landlords, real estate to deal with, and so much more.

Aside from having enough capital to maintain your business, the other most important facet to keeping your company successful is how you run it. For many owners, this means bringing in new partners. Perhaps you are bringing in one new partner of your choosing, and someone you know you will get along with – or perhaps there is a new partner joining a group of you. Regardless, business partnership contracts are in order. And while many other aspects of your business may be critical, without a sound contract locked down from the beginning, a legal issue with a partner could be extremely costly to your business.

Upon bringing in a new partner, consider everything anew—and especially if you are restructuring. What will their duties be, along with everyone else’s now? Will there be new titles? What about pay structure and profit disbursements? There should also be clauses regarding any exit strategies, dissolution plans, and more, to include a conflict resolution clause to be put into effect if there is a legal dispute; in fact, this clause can be so detailed that you will know ahead of time whether litigation would be chosen as the mode for resolution, or perhaps mediation or arbitration. Writing new contracts may also be a good time to update other partner’s job descriptions as well as negotiating some financial terms.

Do you need legal assistance with a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

When a Business Partner Dies: Dealing with All the Changes

Running a business can be one of the most rewarding yet stressful experiences you will ever enjoy and endure. You may have fulfilled a lifelong dream, and perhaps even had a business model just waiting in your pocket, looking for the right time to strike out on your own. Once there, you were probably surprised to be weighed down with issues like employees and turnover rate, human resources knowledge to be attained and applied, complexities of working with vendors, the challenges in making payroll, dealing with clients (and keeping clients) and so much more.

Partnership issues can be extremely complex too. You may have had a long-term friendship with an individual before starting a business together, and that bond can remain strong. Others may have several partners, some who are more like investors than actual participants—while yet others may be married couples working together. Personalities and how much time you spend together have a lot to do with your success in working and staying together, much like a marriage, and if financial stress or other issues begin to plague your business, there could be serious strain on your partnership.

The strain is usually even worse if one partner dies. You may be in a serious state of bereavement, to begin with (and the grieving period, of course, may stretch on indefinitely), along with having lost a major player and contributor in your business. And just as it so often is with losing a family member, everyone may be wondering ‘what to do now,’ and how to fill the empty space they have left behind in your company. At this point it is time to read over that business partnership contract we very much hope you created during the inception of your business.

It is prudent for everyone involved for you to have a clause stipulating what would happen to the partner’s shares in the event of their death. Would you be given the right to buy out any heirs first? Right of refusal is critical to discuss; otherwise, you could find yourself with your partner’s spouse or nephew taking over part of your company. It might be surprising for them to desire to do so—and especially if the new party is not feeling exactly welcome—but there is a good chance they may want to sell too. In that case, you will again need a good business attorney from a law office like the Bolender Law Firm to handle the transaction.

Do you need legal assistance with a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

new business

Starting a New Business: Five Things to Know

Starting a new business could be one of the best things you ever do in life; of course, as you are probably aware, it can be a major risk too. Many businesses don’t make it, but there are usually common denominators as to why. One thing you can count on, however, is that there will be a lot of hours spent in your new business, and for most new business owners there are countless hours logged in sweat equity. And no matter how prepared you are, even if you went to business school, there will be quite an education along the way. Here are five basic things every new business owner should be aware of though:

  1. There will be many long hours and you may be your only support system: Count on being exhausted. And count on everyone else asking why in the world you would want to put yourself through such an experience. Others with a strong career/work drive may understand, but in the beginning, this business is your baby—and it will probably keep you up late and wake you up early too.
  2. Capital is your main priority and will remain so for quite some time. The number one killer for small businesses though is lack of proper capital. You may have enough to get you started (and for many, just coming up with the funds to get into business is a tremendous challenge), but cash flow and backup capital are necessary. Without funding, your business could easily go belly up.
  3. Partners may not be as fun to work with as you originally hoped. This is a big one. Although you may have gone into business with a childhood buddy and all the trust in the world, a business partnership contract is key—and founding your business is the perfect time to do it as everyone is happy with one another and an airtight conflict resolution clause can be included.
  4. Hiring employees, and keeping them, can be extremely challenging. Look for experience in the individuals you bring on board, but more than anything, try to get a feel for whether they have good character—and a personality you would like to be around for years.
  5. Keep the meetings short. Nothing can suck up your time like a morning or afternoon meeting that takes up half the day. Not only are you losing half the day, but so are your employees. And time is money!

Do you need legal assistance with a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!

Business Partnerships

Business Partnerships: Can a Spouse Take Over Shares?

Owning a business is full of challenges; in fact, there may be days when you wish you had never come up with that original mind-blowing idea that set you in motion for working long days and nights, expending all that proverbial blood, sweat, and tears, and often feeling like more time is spent at the office with employees and those engaged in business partnerships than at home with your family. The irony is that while you are busy trying to make a living and sock away the dough for your family, you are forced to leave them for long periods of time. That doesn’t mean you forget about them though—and on the contrary, as family is first in the mind for most of us all day.

While it is important to make sure your family is covered in your will and all estate planning, this could play a part in your business partnership also. This critical contract should cover a long list of items to foresee that everyone is protected, beginning with items like who the officers and shareholders are, and what titles they hold in the business, if any. General job duties and pay should be outlined, along with discussion of other financial issues such as when profits are distributed each year.

What happens, however, if you or another partner were to die? Who gets your shares in the business? This should be established when you are forming the partnership contract, as there may be some discussion regarding how you want to structure it. You may want to consider whether you would want the right of refusal to buy the other partner’s shares should they die or want to leave or discuss the best structure if you do want to leave your shares to a surviving spouse, other family member, or outside party. If this is not agreed upon by all in the contract, it is usually not possible, by law, for a third party to be ‘substituted’ for a family member or other partner.

Speak with your business attorney about creating an airtight partnership contract. This is key in the beginning, and especially when everyone is getting along. A dispute resolution clause should be included also, establishing what type of resolution all parties would turn to in the case of a legal issues, whether that would be litigation, mediation, or arbitration. Details such as what county the resolution would take place in and who would pay attorney’s fees are usually included too.

Do you need legal assistance with a business dispute? If so, contact the Bolender Law Firm.  Our attorneys are experienced in representing clients in state and federal courts, at both the trial and appellate level. Call us at 310-320-0725 now or submit an easy consultation request online. We are here to help!