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Legal Considerations Brief Roundup

Legal Consideration Brief roundup

Legal considerations are not to be ignored by small business owners. The easiest way to avoid any problems is to be prepared. Preparation should begin with choosing your attorney before you need one.

Your Business Attorney

What legal services can an attorney provide your business?

  • Select and implement your legal form of business organization
  • LLC: understand the benefits and limitations of this form of legal protection
  • Multiple member LLC or partnership: draft operating and buy-sell agreements between partners
  • Sub-S or schedule-C corporation: draft corporation buy-laws, buy-sell agreement between shareholders
  • Assist in obtaining necessary registrations, licenses, permits, trademarks, patents
  • Coordinate the resolution of your business legal and tax issues with your personal estate plan and finances. Maintaining legal separation between business assets and personal assets is a difficult challenge for a small business and requires legal advice.
  • Review all legal agreements: insurance policies, loans, leases, mortgages, contracts
  • Review the legal ramifications of any new activity: franchise, acquisition, joint venture

Continue to read Brief #08.00 to discover how to select your attorney.

Patents for Small Businesses

NOTE: This Brief is a general overview of patents. Please check the U.S. Patent Office website, uspto.gov, for the most up to date information.

General

The granting of patents is based on Article 1, Sec 8 of the Constitution. Its purpose is to promote science and the useful arts.

Inventors in return for making public their invention with a patent are granted a property right which excludes others from making, using, selling, or importing the invention. This right lasts for 20 years from the date of filing for the patent.

Continue reading Brief #08.01

 

Trademarks and Service Marks

NOTE: This is a general overview of trademarks and service marks. Please check these websites for the most up to date information: US Patent & Trademark Office: www.uspto.gov/, and the Ohio Secretary of State: www.state.oh.us/sos/

What is a Trademark?

A Trademark is any word, phrase, symbol or design or combination thereof that identifies and distinguishes the source of goods from one party from those of another.

Examples are the statement “Like a Good Neighbor State Farm is There,” and brand names such as Ford “Fusion,” and “Tide.” A trademark may be owned by an individual, corporation or association.

Continue Reading Brief #08.08 to learn more about Service Marks

What Is A Copyright?

Copyrights

Copyright is a form of protection provided by the laws of the United States to authors of original works of authorship. Works that can be protected by copyright are: literary works; musical works including words; dramatic works including accompanying music; pantomimes and choreographic works; pictorial, graphic and sculpture works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works, sound recordings; architectural works and computer software.

Some things are not eligible for copyright protection. They include: works that have not been fixed in tangible form, titles, names, short phrases, slogans, familiar symbols or designs, ornamentation, coloring or lettering, lists of ingredients, ideas, procedures, methods, systems, processes, concepts, principles, discoveries, devices, any information that is common property such as a calendar or tables taken from public documents.

Continue Reading Brief #08.09 to learn more about why Copyrights are important.

 

Purchasing for Manufacturing Businesses Introduction:

This is a list of the basic procedures needed to ensure that purchasing (acquisition) needs are met for companies that manufacture a product. Included is a “sample” Purchasing Agreement to supply a material used in the manufacturing process.

Ethics / Integrity:

Purchasing for the business must be carried out with integrity and high ethical standards. Simply put, this means all dealings with suppliers and vendors must be honest, fair, consistent, and above board. Purchasing must not compromise its objectivity or show favoritism (or the appearance of) by receiving gifts or perks from suppliers.

Important Legal Considerations in Purchasing a Manufacturing Business Continue Reading Brief #08.10

Purchasing for Non-Manufacturing Businesses

Introduction:
This lists the basic procedures needed to ensure that purchasing (acquisition) needs are met for a non-manufacturing business. Ethics / Integrity:

Purchasing for the business must be carried out with integrity and high ethical standards. Simply put, this means all dealings with suppliers and vendors must be honest, fair, consistent, and above board. Purchasing must not compromise its objectivity or show favoritism (or the appearance of) by receiving gifts or perks from suppliers.

Authority:

The Purchasing Agent should be authorized (written documentation) by a company official (for example, the President/Owner) to make purchases for the company. For control purposes, no one else should place orders, except in an emergency and / or safety related situations.

Continue Reading Brief #08.11 for additional information.

If you need direction or support for your small business request a free SCORE Mentor here. Not sure if a SCORE Mentor will be of value to your business, watch this quick video from a SCORE client.

 

 

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Your Business Attorney

Developing a relationship with an attorney for your business as you begin to launch your business and/or before you need their Your Business Attorneyservices can make the process of finding an attorney easier and less stressful.

What legal services can an attorney provide your business?

  • Select and implement your legal form of business organization
  • LLC: understand the benefits and limitations of this form of legal protection
  • Multiple member LLC or partnership: draft operating and buy-sell agreements between partners
  • Sub-S or schedule-C corporation: draft corporation buy-laws, buy-sell agreement between shareholders
  • Assist in obtaining necessary registrations, licenses, permits, trademarks, patents
  • Coordinate the resolution of your business legal and tax issues with your personal estate plan and finances. Maintaining legal separation between business assets and personal assets is a difficult challenge for a small business and requires legal advice.
  • Review all legal agreements: insurance policies, loans, leases, mortgages, contracts
  • Review the legal ramifications of any new activity: franchise, acquisition, joint venture

How can you find a small business attorney?

Your SCORE counselor will know attorneys who work with small business and has access to the Cincinnati chapter’s listing of SCORE client referred attorneys.

Personal referrals: business associates, friends, small businesses in the same field Cincinnati Business Courier: annual listing of largest law firms by number of attorneys Cincinnati Magazine: annual listing of “Super Lawyers”, by specialty

Bar Associations: Local bar associations take various approaches to lawyer referral:

  • The Cincinnati Bar Association, http://www.cincybar.org/news-resources/find- lawyer/ , 381-8213, has two resources: “Lawyer Referral Service” where you request a lawyer by area of law and describe your legal problem; this lawyer will then charge you $50 for the first 1⁄2 hour of consultation and “Find A Lawyer”, where lawyers pay for a photo and a specialty listing.
  • The Northern Kentucky Bar, http://www.nkybar.com/includes/referral.aspx, “Lawyer Referral System” where you will be contacted after applying on-line and will be charged for an initial meeting at the lawyer’s discretion.
  • The Butler County Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service, 896-6671, has lawyers who agree to provide a half-hour consultation for $30.
  • The Dayton Bar Association, http://www.daybar.org/public/lrs/ 937-222-6102, has two resources: “Lawyer Referral Service” where you request a lawyer by area of law and describe your legal problem; this lawyer will then charge you $35 for the first 1⁄2 hour of consultation and “Find A Lawyer”, where lawyers pay for a photo and a specialty listing.

Choosing an attorney – find one that fits and set the right expectations

When you call an attorney for an appointment, ask if they will charge a fee for the initial consultation.

Ask the attorney how much experience they have handling legal issues similar to yours. If the attorney is unresponsive, continue your search until you find an attorney with that experience.

At the conclusion of your first meeting, the attorney should outline a plan of tasks to be performed and provide a reasonably accurate budget of those legal services at an agreed upon hourly billing rate for the attorney. An engagement letter is often used by the attorney to confirm and communicate these fee arrangements, and serves as a contractual agreement between the parties. The lawyer may request a retainer, an advance payment for services. As work proceeds, you are entitled to an accounting of how this retainer and all future fees were spent.

Ask the attorney when they can begin work on your matter, how long it may take to resolve your situation, how they handle client communication (e-mail or phone), and how quickly they will respond to questions or issues that arise.

Tips on receiving the most value out of meetings with your attorney

  1. Be prepared when you meet with your attorney. Write a brief summary of the legal issue you have and ask what documents you should bring to the meeting. Valuable time and money will be wasted with inadequate preparations.
  2. When you meet with your attorney, be forthright about your business. Remember, information you provide your attorney is confidential and protected from disclosure by attorney-client privilege. An attorney needs to know everything about your business and personal situation before he can develop the correct legal solution to your problem.
  3. Ask the attorney how you can best be involved in compiling documents and evidence. Valuable time and money will be wasted if you are not adequately involved.

Need a trusted advisor to discuss your businesses needs for an attorney? Contact SCORE for a free Mentor.

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