What to Ask: Intellectual Property and Incorporation | Jason Polen, Esq.
Starting a new business? UpCounsel attorney Jason Polen explains what every startup should be asking their legal team about intellectual property and incorporation2 min read
Does my business name or product name infringe on someone else's trademark? If not, is it protectable?
A business's name should both (a) not infringe on another business's trademark, and (b) it should also be protectable as a trademark so that other businesses cannot use it.
Are your employment/ human resources practices legal?
The No. 1 cause of bankruptcy for small businesses is employment-related mistakes.
Are you following corporate formalities?
Corporations are required to follow certain corporate formalities like shareholder meetings, etc.
Is your intellectual property protected?
Trade secrets, copyrights, patents, and trademarks should all be registered and protected to prevent others from stealing or misappropriating them.
Have you conducted a regulatory compliance audit?
Most businesses are subject to regulations in some way or another. Regularly auditing for compliance is vital to avoiding violations.
What is the best way a small business owner can protect personal wealth and assets from business risks?
Establishing an entity and adhering to corporate formalities.
What is the best way a small business can maximize its tax deductions?
Avoid corporate tax, stay organized, use tracking technology, accelerate depreciation of business assets.
What specifically are small business owners most confused about when you first meet with them?
Intellectual property and tax
How can quality legal services help a small business grow?
Lawyers are strategic advisors who can structure deals in a way that will allow the business to capture the upside potential of a deal and avoid the downside risks.
How can quality legal services help small businesses save money?
Avoid unanticipated expenses, minimize tax burdens, provide strategic business advice that protects the business from loss.
How can small businesses maximize the value of their legal team’s services?
Provide the legal team the context of the deal, and let the legal team know about any perceived risks, so they can contract around them.
Should business partners have the same amount of equity in a company? Why or why not?
This depends. Their equity should be equal to the value they bring. If partners bring equal value, then equal equity is possible.
What are the top three things a small business owner should be aware of when purchasing an existing business?
Accurately determine the value. Due diligence reviewing customer lists, sale records, advertising materials, and employee contracts. Find out if there are any human resources issues or outstanding lawsuits pending against the company.
Do you have any other essential legal guidance for startups that you haven't already included in this survey?
Register your URL as soon as possible