Tag: Business attorney

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!

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!

When Another Party Blatantly Steals Your Copyright

A copyright can be extremely important to your business if you are producing valuable intellectual property—and while that may be a matter of perspective to some regarding ‘artistic works’ (the definition of what can be copyrighted), such ‘property’ often grows in value exponentially over time. In most cases, though regarding a business venture, artistic expressions that must be registered for serious legal protection may have been long-term projects resulting in intellectual property that your company values deeply, and could include work like software, architectural works, and more. These items can be thought of almost like business inventory and must be guarded just like everything else.

Are you trying to decide whether you want a copyright? If so, ask yourself how you would respond if you found out that someone else had taken your work or replicated it for their own gain. Having a formal copyright establishes with the rest of the world that you own a work; however, many copyright owners are not aware that as soon as they bring the work into existence, they do own it; the question is then how to keep it safe. Registration means taking your current level of ownership one step further by making it formal with the U.S. Copyright Office. If the copyright lapses or expires, it then enters the public domain. Most copyrights are good as outlined by the U.S. Copyright Office:

“As a general rule, for works created after January 1, 1978, copyright protection lasts for the life of the author plus an additional 70 years. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first. For works first published prior to 1978, the term will vary depending on several factors.”

But what about when another party just takes off with your work blatantly? That is theft, and it must be dealt with by a skilled legal professional. If you have worries regarding infringement, contact the Bolender Law Firm as soon as possible. Infringement cases can be complex, as not only must you provide evidence of the intellectual property infringement but also defend your copyright against fair use issues and more. You may also want to consider whether the offending party has the resources to pay damages should you engage in a lawsuit over your copyright.

Do you need legal assistance with an intellectual property matter? 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 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!

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!

establishing boundaries

Establishing Boundaries in the Business Partner Agreement

Business partners can offer the best and the worst when it comes to sharing a business, which is why you should always have a business partner agreement. In the beginning, it can be enormously helpful to have a partner in crime, someone to brainstorm with, and a likeminded soul to open a new company with. This allows you to share financial burdens, which can be considerable not only in the beginning but can also continue throughout the life of your business as you must keep up requirements in maintaining capital. A business partner can handle a large portion of the workload along with you, and help you not only decide how to run the business but move forward in hiring employees, independent contractors, establish intellectual property, and more.

Just as you should have structure within your company though, you should have structure in your business partnership. This all begins with the partnership contract. And while you may have known this partner for many years—most of your life even—it can be extremely valuable to have everything in writing, comprehensively. Like any other relationship, the partnership should have boundaries, beginning with titles that outline roles; for instance, you may be the CEO and in charge of all the major decision making while partners will operate in other upper management capacities. Establish percentages that each partner has in the company, and delineate job duties also, although they may continue to be fluid over the years.

Difficult decisions for the future can already be put into place with the business contract too. What happens if one partner dies? What if a partner wants to move on to other interests and sell their shares? Speak with your business attorney about outlining how all these issues should be dealt with so you don’t end up with a new partner you didn’t plan on later or lose out on having first right of refusal to buy your partner out. Include a dispute resolution clause too, outlining how any legal issues should be resolved, whether in litigation, mediation, or arbitration. It is also typical to decide where such action would take place and who would pay attorney’s fees.

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!

 

Are Differing Management Styles Wrecking Your Business Partnership?

A business partnership may be one of the most important relationships you have in life, and it helps if your management styles are in sync. From the beginning, one or more other individuals may be part of that spark, that inspiration, and the business model that leads to founding a new company, along with changing your life forever. And while much of your enthusiasm and continued involvement in a business will be based on success as the years go on, it is vital to put just as strong a foundation under your partnerships as you do your company overall.

Your personality will have a lot of bearing on your style at work, whether you are operating as the CEO, upper or middle management, or working in a creative or technical capacity. You may have a tendency to be a more autocratic leader, while one of more of your partners prefer to consult with employees routinely about matters, offering a more democratic atmosphere at work, as well as mentoring those you work with, coaching them along in their career and taking joy in watching them grow as individuals—benefiting your company in turn as they are a happy and valuable part of your team.

Conflicting management skills can be the precursor to dissolution of or the diminishing of a partnership, much like that of a typical family dynamic. Along with that, managing of finances in the business, clients, marketing strategies, and so much more requires fluid teamwork and partnership. Without positive support from your main people, your business may flounder—and fast. All these issues can begin eroding your work life and continue to cause negative repercussions, which is why it is critical to head off such problems initially with the business partnership. By outlining your specific titles and roles, you know what is expected of you within the company, as well as what you will be paid, when and how profits are distributed, and what happens in the case of a dissolution; more importantly, there should be a dispute resolution clause written into your contract, detailing how any legal disputes would be handled, where, and who would pay for attorney’s fees.

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!

corporate veil

Business Topics: Piercing the Corporate Veil

No matter how long you have been in business, you are probably very aware of issues regarding mixing your personal and business life, as well as co-mingling funds. Financial accounts must be independent of one another, insurance is different, and while some may work from home, the office is usually separate too. Like many entrepreneurs, your business probably started out as a dream, developed into a concept, and then you were driven to do the hard work it took to make it into a reality. And while a positive attitude is key to success in business, there is no turning a blind eye to the fact that many endeavors do fail, and you must protect your personal finances.

While ‘piercing the corporate veil’ may sound like a dramatic and mysterious term, what it really means is that the court has lifted any corporate protection (the veil, previously) and is holding the shareholders of a business personally liable. As a business owner, you may wonder what the point is in separating business from personal if you can be held liable for a commercial downfall and potentially be sent down by the courts on a sinking ship—putting your family in financial peril too. Consult with a skilled business litigation lawyer from Bolender Law Firm to examine your options.

This type of legal action is not taken lightly whatsoever, and there must be evidence of piercing the corporate veil. If some required duties are neglected, this could be what causes the court to hold you and any shareholders responsible for business debts. This may occur during a bankruptcy or when creditors/plaintiffs are attempting to collect from a business that may have been founded for the sole purpose of escaping financial or other responsibility. Irresponsibility on the part of the business could be brought into question regarding issues such as not taking care of corporate administrative duties (even such tasks as not taking minutes), lack of capital contributed to sustain a corporation or negligence in issuing stock, the creation of a corporation for illegal activities, or other fraudulent reasons.

Debt collections are commonly at stake in such issues, with judges examining whether creditors truly need to see the veil pierced for fair treatment.

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!