If you're the kind of entrepreneur who wants to make a real difference while you're in business and leave behind a body of work that continues to do good for your family, your customers, and the world after you're gone, you've come to the right place.
We help our clients leverage their IP, establish a competitive position for the future, and achieve important milestones for growth. Our chief goal is to identify key areas in which IP protection is the most critical for achieving the company's business objectives, determine the most effective methods of protection, and create strategies to avoid issues with third-party patents.
The traditional law business model is flawed. It incentivizes lawyers to spend more time on matters (since they are billing for every hour in six-minute increments), increase conflict (the more conflict there is, the longer the engagement), and constantly focus on the next new client (one off transactions are the norm in most legal practices). Plus, the world has shifted and quite a lot of legal work has become commoditized into online legal drafting software, documents on demand and do-it-yourself lawyering.
Lawyers, not being entrepreneurs, tried to compete and became mere shadows themselves - document drafters, doing one-off transactions for clients, such as incorporating business, and then went on the hunt for the next new client.
Not us! We build lifetime relationships with our clients. Because a legal relationship not built upon a lifetime foundation is worthless. Really. If you want a transaction, go online and find a document drafting service. If you want someone great that will help you move your awesome idea into a revenue generating business, take your existing business to the next level of excellence, and prepare you and your business to leave behind a legacy of significance, you've come to the right place.
Sky Unlimited Legal Advisory will work with you to grow your business from day one. We support startups and small businesses through their exciting lifecycle, from business formation to sale - and every challenge and opportunity in between.
Despite the unpredictability that has accompanied this global crisis, it is not too late to implement changes to protect you, your employees, and your business. Here are some tips and strategies to help you navigate these challenges and the ones to come.
1. Participate In and Promote Social Distancing Practices. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that employers “explore establish[ing] policies and practices, such as flexible worksites (e.g., telecommuting) and flexible work hours (e.g., staggered shifts), to increase the physical distance among employees and between employees and others.” At the time of this writing, the President has discouraged gatherings of more than ten individuals. As an employer, creating a safe and healthy environment is critical for your company’s success. Thus, employers must work toward complying with the guidance provided by local and federal leaders. Be sure to maintain the cleanliness and sanitization of any facilities where your business operates. Failure to maintain safe environments could result in loss of the goodwill you have already established within your community.
Business attorneys are equipped to assist you in handling a variety of tasks that can protect you from potential legal and business pitfalls, in addition to solving existing legal issues. As important as they are to your team, finding the right business attorney may be challenging if you do not know what to look for. Keeping in mind the following tips can help you find and choose the right business attorney.
1. Assess Your Needs. When you start looking for a business attorney, it is important to consider your specific legal needs. Attorneys experienced in certain niches may be better suited for the ongoing services your business requires. Consider the following types of legal assistance you may need:
Often, business owners try to compensate for shortcomings in their business by bringing in more and more revenue. For many people, however, business closures and quarantines have seemingly eliminated that option.
At the moment, you may be running around like your hair's on fire, trying to find any possible way to bring in more money. You may feel like you are too busy trying to control the present to worry about the future. Take some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in feeling this. Now more than ever, though, it’s important to remember our “LIFT” principle. Take a breath and consider your legal, insurance, financial, and tax situation, and whether the pillars of LIFT can help you get through this time.
If you need to talk with someone, to brainstorm options about how you can shift from your previous income model to one that will work virtually or in an innovative manner considering current conditions, reach out to us and schedule a call to see how we can help.
If revenue is not an issue, and you are ready to pivot, awesome—do it, and let us know how we can support.
Here are 3 things that you can do as you pivot to create the most stability for you and your team.
With the sheer number of businesses, public spaces, and schools closing, we are all finding ourselves in positions we very likely have not planned for very well.
This is a time unlike any other that we have experienced, and we’re seeing it hit the job market in a big way. Thousands of people have been laid off across the country as businesses close their doors, sometimes voluntarily and sometimes due to government intervention. One poll conducted over March 12th and 13th reported that in 18 percent of US households, someone lost their job. That number is climbing. Unemployment centers and websites are overwhelmed, and experts are projecting that the number of unemployed will expand to 4.6 million before the pandemic is through.
Therefore, while you are undoubtedly very concerned about your business, your employees may be very on edge as well. They’re wondering whether their jobs are at risk, whether they’ll get the virus themselves, whether they’ll be able to take care of kids who have been sent home from school, whether elderly parents are going to be ok, and so on.
We have a few recommendations about how to inspire your team to persevere in the face of all of these anxieties.
If you accept credit or debit card payments, you may not know that you are subject to a set of standards created by the Payment Card Industry (PCI) Security Standards Council. This council, made up of the five payment card brands Visa, MasterCard, American Express, JCB International, and Discover, was created in response to increases in data breaches and fraud in the credit card industry. The PCI Data Security Standards address technical and operational systems to keep customer cardholders safe. The goal of these standards is to protect businesses, customers, banks, and all others engaged in the credit industry.
Many business owners find that collecting payment via credit or debit cards benefits both them and the customer. However, they often do not know about these established data security standards, and thus, fail to comply with them. Below are the twelve PCI Data Security Standards that business owners who accept credit and debit card payments must comply with:
One way to do this is to employ the use of social media influencers. Social media influencers are individuals who have amassed large followings of people on various social media sites who trust their opinions on a variety of matters.
Many social media influencers develop specific niches and select one or two social media platforms for their focus. Due to the nature of popular social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, YouTube, and Twitter, it is important to consider the legal issues that could arise during the various stages of a relationship. If you are considering engaging a social media influencer, here are three key things you must keep in mind.
1. Have an agreement. Even though social media work feels very informal, entering into an arrangement with an influencer has serious legal implications and should be governed by a written agreement. Your social media influencer agreement should identify the influencer as an independent contractor and describe in detail what each party expects from the relationship. As with other contracts, it is vital to note compensation, essential dates, conflicts of interest, and any potential limitations imposed on the agreement.
2. Protect your intellectual property. A common problem social media influencers run into is copyright and trademark infringement. In an attempt to attract and engage their audiences, some influencers use others' content without obtaining adequate permissions or providing sufficient credit. In such instances, the influencer may be held liable for taking another’s work. Additionally, as parties to an agreement, both sides should identify who owns the copyrights and trademarks for any of the work created in connection with the agreement. For example, if a social media influencer appears in a photo with a product for a brand, the parties should agree as to who owns the copyright and identify the scope of any agreement to license the copyright in question.
The limited liability company (LLC) is one of the most popular business structures because it offers a level of flexibility and legal protection that is attractive to many people who are starting their own businesses.
The following six steps will help you get started if you are interested in forming an LLC.
1. Choose a name. To form an LLC, you must select a business name that complies with state regulations. The name you select cannot be the same as or even too similar to any other LLC’s name; it must be unique to avoid consumer confusion. Next, states often require that the name of your LLC include one of the following at the end: “limited liability company,” “LLC,” or “Limited.” This requirement gives the public notice of your business structure. As simplistic as this step may seem, it is critical to successfully establishing an LLC and being able to take advantage of the legal protections this business structure provides.
2. Select a registered agent. In addition to selecting an appropriate name, you must select a registered agent. A registered agent, also known as a statutory agent, is the party appointed to receive service of process and communication from your state’s secretary of state. Registered agents must provide an address where important correspondence can be sent. Typically, post office boxes are not acceptable places for a registered agent to receive these communications—rather, a physical address is usually required so the agent can receive service of process. When deciding who should serve as the registered agent, keep in mind that the registered agent will typically be the first person to whom the state reaches out if any issues arise with your LLC. As a result, it is important to ensure that your registered agent consistently checks incoming correspondence and relays that information to you as the business owner.
3. File documents. Perhaps the most important step in creating your LLC is filing the required documents. The articles of organization (referred to in some states as the certificate of formation) are usually filed with the secretary of state and include such information as the company’s name, the registered agent’s name and address, and the business’s purpose. This information becomes public record, so be mindful of what information you are comfortable sharing with the world. Keep in mind that there is a fee to file these documents; however, any start-up costs and filing fees you incur are tax-deductible.
Recently, however, a new California privacy law—the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA)—was enacted guaranteeing consumers (but not employees--at least for now) the right to know what personal information is being collected and requiring businesses to respond to consumer demands for records showing all the personal information a business has collected about them and any third parties with which it has shared or sold their data, as well as requests to have their data erased and to opt-out of the sale of their personal information.
The new law becomes effective on January 1, 2020, and enforcement begins on July 1, 2020. Other states, including Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Mexico, and Rhode Island, are following California’s lead and considering similar legislation. Because the California law will affect many small businesses, including some located in other states, and because it is likely that other states will adopt similar laws, it is important for small business owners to be aware of the new law and its potential impact on them.
Which Businesses Must Comply?
The CCPA applies to businesses that fall into at least one of the following categories: (1) those that earn $25 million or more in annual revenue; (2) those that buy, receive, or sell the personal data of at least 50,000 consumers or households; or (3) those that obtain at least half of their revenue selling the personal data of California residents. Any business, including those located outside of the state of California, will be subject to the law, as long as it meets one of the three conditions mentioned above. It has been estimated that more than 500,000 U.S. businesses, including many small businesses, will be impacted. The law does not apply when a business’s commercial conduct “takes place wholly outside of California,” i.e., (1) the business collected information while the consumer was outside of California; (2) no part of a sale of the consumer’s personal information occurred in California; or (3) there was no sale of the personal information collected while the consumer was in California.
If you have included original written content such as blog posts, articles, or FAQs on your website as part of your efforts to draw people to your site and engage with new and existing customers, this is a valuable intellectual property you should take steps to protect.
Register your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Although your written content is under copyright protection from the moment it is created and can be perceived directly or using a device such as a computer or mobile phone, you cannot bring a lawsuit for copyright infringement, i.e., theft or unauthorized use, unless you have registered your work with the U.S. Copyright Office. Registration also makes it easier for you to be successful in a lawsuit against an infringer. If you register your work within five years after it is published, the copyright and the facts contained in the certificate of registration the Copyright Office places in the public record will be presumed to be valid unless the person you are suing for infringement can provide evidence refuting them.
If you register your work within three months after you publish it or before an infringement of your work occurs, you will not have to prove the actual damages you have suffered as a result of the infringement in a lawsuit against the infringer. Rather, you will be able to recover an amount set by the federal copyright law (currently $750 to $30,000 per infringement, depending upon the court’s discretion) as well as costs incurred as a result of the lawsuit, including attorneys’ fees.
Damages may be difficult, if not impossible, to prove. For example, it is nearly impossible to show how many customers purchased the infringer’s product instead of yours because of the infringement. Thus, the ability to obtain the damages set by statute is crucial to ensuring you are compensated if someone uses your work without your permission. This is an important deterrent to those who may steal your work, as you will be entitled to the statutory amount every time someone views the infringer’s website—which can add up quickly. It also serves as leverage if you request that your content be removed from the infringing website rather than immediately filing a lawsuit.
Knowing how to get your great idea financed and properly managed, takes another. However, it may be easier than you think.
What You Need, What You’ve Got, and Where to Get the Rest
If you think you’re in over your head when it comes to the financial aspects of your business, you’re probably not. Really. In fact, all you need to do is sit down with an experienced business lawyer and determine what money you need, what you’ve got, and where to get the rest. According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), the following are some of the financial areas in which to focus on when financing your new business:
Estimating Startup Costs. While the most important startup cost will likely be “seed” money (the funds necessary to bring your idea to life), others include: