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QUESTIONS TO ASK BEFORE STARTING A BUSINESS

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Before starting a business, it is important to consult an attorney regarding the different aspects of starting a business and other legal traps to avoid. There are many things to consider such as the business entity, business structure, and the contracts involved. Here are some important questions you should ask your lawyer before starting your business:

What should I name my business?

Each state has different laws regarding the naming of a business. In general, the name for your new company cannot be the same as an existing one. It is also wise to avoid names that are extremely similar to existing ones due to the possibility trademark infringement.

If you want to trademark your business name, you must follow all the guidelines in order to be eligible for trademark protection. A name must have three distinct properties to be eligible to be trademarked: identify a good or service, distinguish the good or service from others, and be a source indicator.

What business structure should I choose?

There are many types of business structures such as a Limited Liability Corporation (LLC), Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), or corporation. The benefit of forming a business entity is that the business owners will not have to risk personal assets. Therefore the business owner is not personally liable for any losses incurred by the business.

If you choose not to form a business entity, the business can be a sole proprietorship, meaning a business with one owner. If you have business partners the business would become a general partnership. Under the law, the business and its owner(s) will be one entity and the owner will be personally liable for any debts incurred by the business.

For further questions regarding business structures, you can refer to our previous article discussing, in detail, the differences between different business structures and other business entities.

What should I include in my contracts?

There are several contracts that are needed in a business between the business owner and business partners, employees, and investors. A contract for a business and its shareholders should address issues including but not limited to: share transfers, dissolution of a partnership, and the actions taken if one or more parties do not follow through with the contract. Aside from the business contract, a business owner must also consider confidentiality agreements as well as contracts for daily transactions.

The contract is extremely important in reducing and resolving any disputes that may arise. A lawyer can assist with drafting contracts that are routinely used. It is crucial that all major contracts are drafted or reviewed by a lawyer.

How can I protect my intellectual property?

Registering a trademark with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) can protect the name, logo, slogan, or packaging of a business. A trademark can protect anything used to identify or distinguish your business from others, but the business must meet the requirements set by the USPTO.

A copyright may also be obtained to protect any photographs, brochures, or websites. After the copyright is obtained, only the author has the right to publish or distribute the work in any form. If the business is built upon an invention or idea, it may also be wise to obtain a utility patent or design patent. A patent gives the inventor the sole right to make, use, or sell an invention for a certain period of time.

Often times, the most valuable asset in a business is the intellectual property. Therefore, intellectual property rights are crucial to the success of the business.

What risks should I watch out for? How do I minimize my risks?

Every business owner faces a set of risks unique to their company. As an employer it is important to obey state laws regarding regarding minimum wage, safety regulations, and all other employment related matters. There is also the risk of personal liability in the business if you choose not to form a formal business entity.

Risks can be minimized with a well-written contract, entity formation, and insurance. As an entrepreneur or inventor, it is important to consult an attorney before starting a business.

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Starting a new business can be a bit scary. Aside from worries of failure, there’s also the hassle of making sure all legal paperwork are properly filed. I reached out to Mr. Wang (Tommy) because of his excellent reviews and reputation and I am so glad I did. He was thorough and meticulous in answering all of my concerns and took time to find out special laws and policies regarding the kind of business I am starting. I could focus on the daily practical side of starting my new office without worry because I felt Tommy was reliable and took my case seriously. My business is opened and it’s all been a smooth start because of Tommy’s help. I have plans to start another business venture in the next few years and I already know I’ll be coming back to Wang IP Law.

The Shindig W.

I came to Tommy for help reviewing a licensing agreement I had secured with a well-known manufacturer. Tommy made sure I understood all the details in the contract and he negotiated with the company to improve my side of the deal. I mentioned to Tommy at my first consultation that we were looking to expand throughout the US and were investing a lot of money to make a big entrance into the market. I did not think I would have my store open so soon but Tommy also has connections with the local area and realtors to help me secure the location for my first store in the Los Angeles area. Tommy works a lot with the local businesses and he understands how to transition from the Asian market to US market. Within 8 months my store was open for business and fully operating. I must recommend Tommy to any business owners looking for help with contracts and improving their side of the deal. Tommy has the knowledge and experience to make sure there is a smooth process to open for business here, and make sure that your company is set up for success.

LI H.

I think Tommy and his team by far considered the best people to work with in my 16 business years. Beside quick responses to all my inquiries, they also done things right and providing very professional solutions. I’m highly recommending Tommy and his firm to all business owners.

Calvin C.

I have been working on my Utility Patent for almost 4 years. I have hired and fired two very reputable IP firms because with all their expertise and reputation for being some of the top firms in IP Law, I felt a lack of connection and care in my product, time and financial investment. Then I found Tommy and his team. Tommy does not waste time. He and his team are professional and extremely thorough. After 4 years, I finally found a legal team that I felt spent the time to really understand the components of my utility patent. Tommy also very mindful of cost and how and where my money would be better spent. I really feel I am in great hands with Tommy and his team. They have been patient with my revisions. And most importantly, they made me feel that they fully understood the importance this patent is to me. It has been a great and comforting pleasure working with Tommy.

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