Category Archives: Latest News

How to Get Access to the Public Records With Ease

In the United States of America, public records refer to the records that the government collected and archived. And these records are available for the common people to access for free. In simple terms, these records consist of country, state or federal info on a public domain. Anyone who has access to the internet can check out these records. Let’s find out how you can find these public records with ease.

As far as public records are concerned, each state has its own laws that define what a public record is and what is not. However, there are a few types of them that can be called public records all over the world. They are known as the records of death, birth, courts, bankruptcies, civil judgments and arrests, just to name a few. These statistics are available to the whole world for free of charge.

As far as the law is concerned, all of the 50 states of the us have to provide access to the records involving sex offenders. The fact of the matter is that the freedom of information act made it legal for the general public to access these records.

You may be surprised to know as to how much information you can find about someone without any problem. However, most people have no idea that the government agencies and courts maintain large databases of their documents and that most of the data including that which contains personal information of people is available to common people in the form of public records. So, steps should be taken in order to make more and more people aware of the availability of these documents.

How Can You Get Access to The Public Records?

If you want to search for these documents and files, you can choose any of the several methods available. The easiest method is to make a search through your computer. You can make use of any of the background checking services available on the internet.

These services get access to the pr from a number of sources and offer a simple report so you can understand it easily. Searching for the information on your own will be a lot more time consuming. So, using these services is a better idea.

Since there are a lot of background checking companies out there, it may be hard for to choose one. The catch is that all of the providers look about the same, thus making it harder for you to pick one.

So, what service should you choose in this case? Which site should you opt for? As far as our advice is concerned, we suggest that you choose a provider that has a lot of good experts who can help you choose the right background checking service.

The company you choose should be able to provide you with accurate and in-depth information about the person you have on your list. Moreover, the company should be able to offer information quickly. Moreover, if the service charges for its services, you should make sure the service charges are reasonable.

Some providers allow you to perform a few searches for free so you can get a better idea of their service quality. So, you can check out their trial services before paying for the full access.

Hopefully, this article will help you get access to the public records with ease.

Getting access to Public Records is important if you are writing a book or work for a media house. For this, you should check a data search provider, such as Public Records Search.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9960473

Legal Assistant’s Corner: Safeguard Yourself Against Burnout

Being a legal assistant is a high stress position. We are the last step in a long line of steps that ensures pleadings and documents get filed and out on time to whomever they need to go. Everyone wants everything done yesterday, even if they only got their part of it to you ten minutes ago. It’s commonplace for us to take on all responsibility for a project and get it done in an unreasonably short amount of time. We, simply, are magicians; however, it sometimes comes at a steep cost.

Those of us worth our salt don’t simply do as we’re told, we also think through the entire process to make sure it goes as smoothly as possible once it leaves our hands. It is demanded of us to be all things to all people: courteous, friendly, omniscient, error-free and, most of all, F-A-S-T. With the never-ending lightening pace, it’s not uncommon for us to come in early, stay late, skip lunches and breaks, and continually accomplish the seemingly impossible. Following are five suggestions that may help you maintain your sanity:

  1. Don’t Come in Early or Stay Late

Unless it’s a true emergency, there is no reason for any of us to work more than our required scheduled hours. If it starts getting to the point where you can’t accomplish everything being thrown at you by its deadline, it’s time for you to suggest that the company hire on another assistant to help with the workload. It is not your duty to continually take on more and more responsibility until it gets to the point that you are no longer able to maintain your usual work hours. Stop being a martyr.

  1. Take Breaks and Lunches

All states require regular breaks for lunch as well as specified breaks in the morning and afternoon. It’s most important to take those breaks on extremely busy days – it helps tremendously to step away from the chaos, regroup and re-energize. While the breaks won’t keep the stress from creeping in once you’re back at your desk, at least nobody will be demanding anything of you so you can breathe easier for some portion of your day.

  1. Communicate

Make it your number one priority to keep watch over what deadlines are approaching and inform your supervisor about your needs to be able to accomplish what will need to be done. Make sure to build in a cushion for things to go wrong too. Many attorneys (and clients) only focus on when an actual deadline is and won’t account for the amount of time needed to prepare and disseminate the required documentation. It’s your job to be your own advocate so stop being shy and start speaking up!

  1. Don’t Forego Vacation Time

We all need to get away from time to time. It’s good for the soul and will reinvigorate your passion for your chosen field of work. The U.S. seems to value working over taking vacations, but it’s an incredibly shortsighted view. If all we ever do is grind and hustle, we’ll eventually have no more grind or hustle left. Every so often we need to refill our own coffers by getting off of the merry-go-round that is our daily existence. Relax. Go see people, places and things that excite you. You’ll appreciate your job and workplace more after you do.

  1. Leave Work at Work

Most importantly, donot take work home unless it’s absolutely necessary. This includes answering emails and phone calls too. There is very little that can’t wait until the next workday to be accomplished. You’ll have more energy and optimism if you let work live at work alone. Your friends and family will thank you too.

Make sure you put your most important needs first. Speak up, rest and define/maintain your boundaries. In the long run, it’s for everyone’s benefit because, when you regularly follow these steps, you’ll keep making magic happen!

© 9/25/2018 Hunt & Associates, P.C. All rights reserved.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/10014248

Everything You Need to Know Before You Fill an NGO Online Registration Form

An NGO is a non-governmental organisation that aims to promote the happiness, wellbeing and comfort of the people of a society. Such societies are not dependent on the government. Most often they work on:

  1. Curbing misuse of power
  2. Remove corruption
  3. Protect the environment
  4. Safeguard vulnerable groups
  5. Aid health of women and children

The Vital Need of NGOs

Because an NGO is separate from the support of the government, it can help democracy work better. Mostly, they do so in two ways:

  • Educate the public:

An NGO teaches the citizens of a nation on how a government works, what it is doing for them and how the work affects the people. They provide crucial information about people in power to the average person. Once the public is informed about politicians and companies, they can use the date to make better decisions.

  • A conduit of communication:

Though a democracy allows every person to write to their political representative about their views and opinions, it is not an effective way of communicating. NGOs, on the other hand, speak as the voice of hundreds of people. Therefore, when they weigh in on the decisions made by people in power, they are heard. These organisations are essentially a channel between the layman and the government. A few areas when NGOs can express the views of the public are:

  1. Nuclear energy
  2. International treaties
  3. Constitutional rights
  4. Protection of rights
  5. Fair worker pay
  6. Freedom of speech

Essentially, NGOs work to ensure that officials keep their legal obligations and protect democracy.

How Do NGOs Raise Money?

The first source of income, when an NGO is at the budding stage, is the donations they get from the citizens. But these are not enough to keep an agency running. Since they do not have the financial backup for promotions and advertisements, like other businesses, they look towards the government for funding. A government can offer money to NGOs for a plethora of reasons. A few of them are:

  1. For supplying legal advices to individuals who have been mistreated like in the case of an employer and employee.
  2. For representing special groups of people like those who are specially-abled. The government funds such an organisation because they want to guarantee that every class of citizen has a voice in policymaking. Furthermore, when officials back up such agencies, they get ready data on the opinions and expertise of this segment of individuals which can be used to make better laws.
  3. For keeping a careful eye and oversight on the government itself. These NGOs perform the vital task of making certain that the present government fulfils the promises they made and uphold all laws. It may seem like a counterintuitive reason to fund an NGO, but it is one of the most crucial. People in power have the tendency to misuse it. When there is a body of people checking on each decision you make, the temptation to abuse power is reduced.

When a government funds an NGO, it does so through a third party. This is imperative because giving direct money to an agency can equate to complete control over their decisions. Whereas, an independent body uses impartial criteria to decide who receives the donations.

How and Where to Register an NGO?

There are departments and officers allocated within a government that deal with registrations of NGOs. At present, there is also a society registration online process for which one can opt. Before registration can be done, one has to decide the type of agency it will be:

  1. non-profit organization
  2. voluntary organization
  3. people’s organization

Once the decision is made, the submission of required documents takes place. These would include:

  1. Information on the NGO/NPO Board
  2. The mission statement
  3. Memorandum of Association or Bye-laws
  4. Programmes and projects information
  5. Staff members details
  6. Funding sources and pattern of income and expenditure
  7. report of annual activities such as financial and audit reports
  8. letters of support (references)

The Basic Steps of Running an NGO

After NGO registration fees has been paid and the government recognises the agency, it is time to operate it. Majority of such organisations work on a set framework of five steps:

  1. Get funds from national or international resources to implement the project in the pipe-works.
  2. Hire the correct people to carry out the plan and pay them the required salary.
  3. Attend meetings held by governments and bodies like the Un as a representative of the public.
  4. Sell a product or service or publish works. It is to be noted that this is not done for-profit but to gain some capital to keep the NGO operational.
  5. Leverage all tax-breaks and support the government offers to keep the agency functioning.

Registering an NGO is a massive responsibility, as will be apparent from the information in the article. It is akin to starting a viable commercial trade. There are obligations that need to be fulfilled like finding an office space, creating detail reports of financial records and reporting to the local government with the correct documentation.

The only way to ensure that the registration procedure goes seamlessly is to employ a well-known Tax return filing company like VakilSearch. Their years of experience in the area and know-how will is precisely what is need to get the non-profit organisation up and running in no time. The brains behind the company offer a comprehensive package for registration. Swing by their site to get more information on how to register an NGO or give them a call to start the process now!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/10095549

Legal Assistant’s Corner: I Really Do (Mostly) Love My Job

Legal assistants are notoriously stressed out and we sometimes focus too much on the negative things that rear their head throughout each day – and negative things do happen every day. On the flip side, the majority of us absolutely love what we do and have no desire to do anything else professionally.

The top reasons (in no particular order) why I love my job are:

Multitasking Mastery

Multitasking is a skill every assistant must master whether they like it or not. I generally prefer to focus solely on one single task, complete it, then move onto the next one… but being a legal assistant rarely allows that to happen. Some days when I’m forced to multitask, my brain revolts and I lash out in frustration to whomever will listen but most days I’m usually pretty proud myself that I was able to switch gears with the ease and smoothness of a racecar driver on the freeway during rush hour.

Organizing Wizardry

I tend to fall on the OCD side of the scale, so it pleases me to no end when I am able to organize all the chaos of a client’s file into a system that will make sense to anyone who touches it from then on. It’s like I can anticipate how it will be used in the future… which is because I can. *maniacal laugh*

Resounding Resourcefulness

When attorneys are faced with doing anything out of the norm, it quite often falls on our to do pile. Sometimes there is no straightforward way of completing a task and we have to figure out the mechanics to get the desired end result. Because we are constantly facing new questions that we must answer, we are forced to access our creative super powers to get the job done, son. And we always ultimately Make. It. Happen.

Cerebrally Challenging

It sounds cliché, but I live to stimulate my brain. Learning new things, conquering challenges and accomplishing mountains of tasks the faint of heart would be immediately overwhelmed by keeps me energized and excited to get to work each day. I rarely know what each professional day will hold which keeps things intriguing. I am puzzled by those of you who like to have jobs doing the same tasks day in and day out. I’d honestly be bored out of my mind. No, thank you. I’ll take what’s behind door number one, please.

Client Closure

No proper list would be complete without this on it. Helping people is the main reason those of us who work in the service industry actually chose to do so, right? While there is that, it’s actually deeper. In the legal world, we constantly interface with clients who are going through some of the worst experiences of their lives. They are scared, anxious and in dire need of our services in order for them to move onto the next phase of their lives. There is no better feeling than when we conclude a client’s case and they shower us with pure, unadulterated gratitude. Obtaining closure for a client is one of the most rewarding things we do – for both the client and for ourselves.

So, at the end of the day I basically am equal parts exhausted and exhilarated – as any job worth its salt should be. It’s tough being a superhero, but it’s also incredibly rewarding… and someone’s got to do it.

© 3/30/2018 Hunt & Associates, P.C. All rights reserved.

Selecting the Business Structure and the Process of Company Registration in India

To work legally, in India, every business has to register itself. The process of company registration starts by deciding the structure of it. By selecting the proper structure, a company can:

  1. Meet targets set easily.
  2. Operate at its highest efficiency.

A Business Structure – the Vital Necessity of it

The structure of a corporation determines two essential factors:

  1. The filing of Income Tax returns.
  2. The compliances that have to be adhered to.

To give a clearer picture take this example:

A business registered as a company has to file income tax returns along with annual returns to the Registrar of Companies. On the other hand, a firm registered as a sole proprietorship merely has to file income tax returns. Moreover, a company’s financial books need must be audited once a year which means extra expenses of:

  1. Auditors.
  2. Accountants.
  3. Tax filing authorities.

Another example of how a business composition can influence the company is:

Some structures like a PLC or LLP have the image of being investor-friendly because they are separate legal entities. It signifies that a business which hopes to get a monetary backup in the future would fare better as a PLC or LLP. If the owner chooses to register as a sole proprietor, he or she may face issues while looking for outside investors.

Essentially, it means consider many factors before electing the business structure because they impact the venture in the long run.

Four Primary Business Structures in India

The options an entrepreneur has when deciding the formation of business are:

  • OPC

One Person Company allots a single individual as the sole-proprietor of a firm. This type of structure is ideal for a company that has just one owner or promoter. It was introduced in 2013.

  • LLP

Limited Liability Partnership has more than one owner. Called partners, there is a restriction on the liability they have to bear. It is equal to the contribution they made. The LLP is a separate legal entity.

  • PLC

Private Limited Company is also a separate legal entity from its creator. The most common type of structure, it has directors and shareholders. The firm considers all of them as employees.

  • PLC

Public Limited Company also has a separate legal existence, and like an LLP, the liability of its members is restricted to their shares. This structure is formed by “a voluntary association of members.”

A Business Structure – How to Select the Right One While Applying a Company Registration Online

To pick the right choice of a business structure, ask the following questions.

  • What is the number of owners of the business?

An OPC is ideal when one individual is putting up the total initial capital. An LLP or a Private Ltd. Co. would be better suited for businesses that have 2 or more owners and are also looking for further investment by new entities.

  • Does the initial investment affect the structure?

Yes, it can influence the decision. For example, owners who don’t want a substantial investment at the starting can pick:

  1. A Partnership.
  2. Sole Proprietorship.
  3. A Hindu Undivided Family.

Entrepreneurs who are sure to recoup compliance and setup cost can choose:

  1. Private Limited Company.
  2. OPC.
  3. LLP.
  • How much liability can be borne?

Structures like PLC and LLP have a clause for restricted liability. It indicates that in case there is a default of loans the members will only repay the amount equal to:

  1. Their contribution.
  2. Value of shares held.

In other structures such as partnership, HUF, and sole-proprietor, the liability has no limit. They members or owners have to repay the entire cost which can put personal assets at risk.

  • What are the applicable tax rates of the business structures?

For an entity registered as a company or partnership, a flat tax rate of 30% is applicable. For HUF and sole-proprietorship, the slab rates applied are standard.

  • Will others be investing in the company?

Any business that hopes to get investments from venture capitalists or other parties should register it as a Private Limited company or LLP. They are measured as trusted entities and therefore easier to get financial backup.

The Process to Registering a New Business

A new company Registration or startup in India can now be easily registered easily online. The new process was incorporated by the Ministry of Corporate Affairs a few years back. The basic steps that need to be taken to register a business are:

  1. Get a Digital Signature Certificate, also known as DSC.
  2. Get a Director Identification Number, also called DIN.
  3. Accurately fill in the New User Registration form, also termed as eFrom.
  4. Submit the eForm.

The company is now registered and ready to work in India legally.

It is apparent that to run a legitimate business in the country registering it is mandatory. While the process has been significantly simplified in recent times, it is something that has no scope for errors.

Therefore, it stands to reason that professionals like VakilSearch would come in handy while registering a company. They are well-known NGO registration online service providers, who also have experts in setting up a business entity. They provide step-by-step guidance in every category of business structure registration. VakilSearch also aids in procuring the PAN and tax return filing of a company.

Furthermore, all of it can be done online without the need of visiting a brick and mortar place. Swing by their website to get more information on how they can get a business its legal license. You can also call them and set up a free first consultation!

6 Qualities to Expect From a Good Solicitor

A successful solicitor must posses the right skills to match their particular area of law. Many of these skills will be developed over time, but it is also necessary to hold the right professional qualifications to enter this career path. Let’s take a look at a few of the major qualities that any decent solicitor should have:

Communication skills

A solicitor must have the ability to display essential communication skills such as being a good listener, good at written communication, and orally articulate. The need to write clearly, concisely and persuasively is very important in the event of needing to write or give input on legal documents. Additionally, the solicitors will need to analyze and listen to testimony, so the ability to listen and understand what is being said is essential.

Analytical skills

The ability to absorb a lot of information is essential for someone who wishes to understand the law. Also, once this information is absorbed it is necessary to have the ability to break it down into something that is logical and manageable. This can often be made more difficult because there are often multiple options to resolve a situation or come to a reasonable conclusion. For this reason, the solicitor will need to develop evaluative skills that can help to identify the most effective option.

People skills

In addition to doing very well academically, a solicitor will be expected to have great people skills. They should be persuasive, personable, and have the ability to read others. This can help in many different situations, such as gauging a person’s honesty.

Research skills

The ability to effectively and quickly research a particular subject is a very important skill. This can help to fully understand a client, appreciate the specific needs, and work on the necessary legal strategies. The process of preparing the legal strategies will mean a lot of information needs to be absorbed and comprehended. After this, it is important to create an effective strategy that is useful and manageable.

Creativity

Any solicitor that is well-respected is able to not only show their analytical and logical skills, but also show their creative side which is needed to solve a wide range of problems. It is often necessary to consider the less obvious solutions to be successful and achieve the most favorable outcome for their client.

Judgment

A solicitor must have the ability to put forward a logical and reasonable conclusion based on receiving a limited amount of information. Also, they should be able to detect weakness in the opposition’s case or argument.

Discover the options for help and guidance by visiting solicitors Ennis.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/9986593

5 Ways China Can Improve its Trademark Laws

The meteoric rise in the number of trademark applications in China over the last five years is a testament to the power and importance of China as a market for brand owners. In 2012, there were approximately 1.5 million applications filed in China, and by 2016 that number rose to 3.6 million. In 2017 applicants filed 5.7 million new applications[i]. That number dwarfs the 590,000 new applications filed in fiscal year 2017 at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, the second busiest trademark office[ii].

Brand owners recognize that in order to do business globally, they need to devise a strategy in China, whether they will offer products or services directly there or not. Part of the reality of this brand protection strategy is a defensive attempt to prevent fraudulent filings by third parties in order to avoid either paying the applicant to get the brand “returned” to the rightful owner or paying steep legal fees for seemingly never-ending legal battles that may not go in their favor[iii]. China is a “first-to-file” country, meaning that rights in a mark are established through registration, not use. The filing date preserves the applicant’s rights in the mark, whether legitimate or not. U.S. business owners wanting to do business in China often find themselves facing a whole host of frustrations not only due to issues such as fraudulent registrations, but also because of other legal restrictions that impose undue burdens on evidence production and bringing claims in court.

Has Chinese trademark law and policy kept pace with China’s ever-increasing importance in the global marketplace for businesses wanting to protect their brands? After new trademark legislation was introduced in 2013, China announced earlier this year that it is considering further sweeping changes to its IP administrative structure and legal processes, including the creation of a single IP agency (the State Market Supervision Administration)[iv]. As part of this process, China has solicited public opinion on potential revisions to Chinese trademark law. Below are five recommendations for modifications to the current legal regime that would benefit U.S. business owners seeking to do business in or with China.

  1. Hire more trademark examiners

While not a change in the law per se, hiring more trademark examiners will help overcome some of the legal pitfalls that come with having too few examiners to keep up with the ever-increasing number of applications. The current wait from time of application to registration can run as long as 12 to 18 months even if no refusal issues, meaning that even though an owner can preserve a filing date, the status of registration and the rights that go with it are in limbo for a long period of time. Without a registration, a trademark owner cannot fight counterfeiters, particularly on sites such as Alibaba, TaoBao, and TMall, cannot record their trademark with China Customs, and will have a much harder time trying to file any type of unfair competition action in courts in China.

What’s more, each examiner gets about ten minutes to examine each application, which includes a determination of conflicts with prior registrations or prior-filed applications, examination of the application formalities, determination of distinctiveness, and examination of the proper identification of goods and services. With so little time to give to each application, the quality of examination is bound to suffer, resulting in frustrated applicants and a large number of registrations on the Register that may not belong there. With extra clutter on the register, trademark examiners are likely to cite these irrelevant registrations against future applicants, blocking their registrations.

  1. Institute a declaration of use requirement after three years

Some first-to-file jurisdictions, such as the Philippines, require the registrant to prove use of the mark in commerce in connection with the goods or services of the registration after three years in order to maintain the registration. This gives applicants the incentive to file applications for marks they actually intend to use, since there is extra cost involved in either submitting the declaration of use or refiling a new application before the third year is up. A lot of the “chaff” on a registry could be removed by instituting this requirement, allowing legitimate brand owners to have more options.

This type of requirement is not without potential downsides, however. Fraudulent filers can easily fake use specimens or declarations, as some have done in the U.S. to try to get around the strict use requirements for registration[v]. It also makes defensive filings more difficult and costly. And, it could add a burden to the trademark examiners who are already overburdened. Nevertheless, in combination with the third recommendation below, adding the declaration of use requirement could help combat fraud by making non-legitimate filing less profitable and more difficult.

  1. Formalize sanctions for lawyers, agents, and other individuals who knowingly file fraudulent applications

There are few if any consequences for fraudulent filers and for the lawyers and trademark agents who knowingly assist them. Monitoring repeat fraudulent filers and formalization of a black list would make it more difficult for trademark squatters to profit from registering multiple famous or well-known trademarks[vi]. Monetary sanctions or other legal consequences along the lines of censure or disbarment from practice before the trademark office for lawyers and agents who knowingly help squatters file the fraudulent applications would also help reduce these types of filings. While it’s certainly possible that clients aren’t always forthcoming with accurate disclosures to their counsel, it’s fairly obvious when someone other than Apple files an application to register the mark iPhone or iPad[vii] that something is not above board.

  1. Make evidentiary procedures more transparent and less onerous for foreign parties

Any foreign lawyer who has ever tried to work with clients to collect evidence to support a client’s opposition or any other administrative or judicial proceeding in China has had moments of significant frustration. Foreign witness declarations are not generally accepted in China Trademark Office (CTMO) proceedings, or are given little to no weight, even if signed and properly notarized. The CTMO does not have any formal guidelines for how to present evidence generated outside of China, and it is unclear as to how it may be treated in a proceeding[viii]. The Trademark Review and Adjudication Board (TRAB) has formalized guidelines to accept documents generated outside of China but requires such documents to be both notarized and legalized[ix]. The legalization process is both time consuming and costly if there are more than a few documents.

In addition, in a proceeding before the CTMO, such as a non-use cancellation proceeding (which is often necessary to try to cancel marks that have been on the Register longer than three years, do not appear to be in use, and are blocking a client’s application), the party bringing the action does not have the opportunity to examine the registrant’s evidence submitted to the CTMO until after the decision has been rendered[x]. The complainant must file a request to review the evidence with the TRAB, and then try to challenge the evidence. The process again becomes more time consuming and costly, which acts as a disincentive to any foreign trademark owner with legitimate claims.

Providing policy guidelines to the CTMO for how evidence should be treated will take some of the guesswork out of the process for foreign parties that need to present evidence from outside of China to support their case. Also, giving the complainant a chance to challenge potentially fraudulent or weak evidence in an ex parte proceeding before the decision is final will allow the CTMO to take that argument into consideration, and perhaps make decisions that will further help to prevent fraudulent or inactive registrations from cluttering up the Register.

  1. Streamline judicial and administrative, and make bad faith a sole ground for invalidation

It is common in opposition proceedings against fraudulent applications or non-use cancellation actions against inactive registrations for the defending party to not respond. In the U.S., the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board may issue a default judgment against the defending party, which can be appealed. However, in CTMO proceedings, the prosecuting party must continue with the case and present arguments and evidence through final determination, notwithstanding the lack of any response from the other side. Allowing for the issuance of default judgments would not only save time and money for the prosecuting party, but also save CTMO resources that are needed elsewhere.

Perhaps the most helpful change that would benefit foreign filers dealing with trademark squatters is allowing invalidation and opposition proceedings to be brought on the sole grounds of fraud or bad faith filing. In the current version of the China trademark law, there is no provision for bad faith as a ground for opposition or invalidation, although it may be considered in conjunction with other claims and as part of the supporting evidence presented[xi].

It is heartening that China is actively examining and proactively modifying its laws, procedures, and policies to reflect the issues and realities faced by both domestic and international brand owners and is addressing the exponentially increasing influx of trademark applications. The evolution of its intellectual property legal framework to match the demands of both domestic and international filers will only help to strengthen its position in the global marketplace.

[i] https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=d03004b3-4737-4513-a49b-d3af0840c944
[ii] https://www.uspto.gov/dashboards/trademarks/main.dashxml
[iii] New Balance learned a hard lesson about not filing an application for the Chinese character equivalent of its mark before using it: See https://www.wilsonelser.com/news_and_insights/insights/2329-chinese_court_stuns_new_balance_with_16_million
[iv] http://www.worldtrademarkreview.com/Blog/detail.aspx?g=209a6df8-bcd7-4dc6-83e4-27bb198f2f89
[v] https://www.wsj.com/articles/flood-of-trademark-applications-fromchinaalarms-u-s-officials-1525521600?mod=searchresults&page=1&pos=3
[vi] Currently, under the 2013 law, the CTMO may put agencies on a blacklist and issue monetary penalties, but do not have to enforce these restrictions. Kossof, Paul, “The New Chinese Trademark Law” The Trademark Reporter Vol. 104 No. 4, July-August 2014.
[vii] https://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/05/technology/apple-loses-iphone-china-trademark-case.html
[viii] Various discussions with local counsel in Beijing, China, 2018.
[ix] Id.
[x] Id.
[xi] Ferrante, Michele, “Strategies to Avoid Risks Related to Trademark Squatting in China” The Trademark Reporter Vol. 107 No. 3, May-June 2017.

How to Get Your Startup Acquired

There are many great reasons to start your own company, including the desire to be your own boss, the desire to make something happen, passion about your product or service, or even the desire to make more money. A successful startup will need the following:

  • A solid sales and marketing plan;
  • High-quality accounting;
  • strong legal team;
  • A great corporate structure;
  • A dedicated managerial team;
  • Healthy financial resources or a solid plan to get them; and
  • Ensuring that best industry practices are followed.

Regardless of the reason for starting your own company, a startup requires many factors to work so the likelihood of success for startups is still relatively low. Many entrepreneurs are satisfied with their startup being acquired (i.e. bought over) by a bigger company, so that they can reasonable profit upon selling their business. In fact, in the global market, American companies are major acquirers of startups and pay more per acquisition than European companies. Like any buying and selling transaction, there are lots of factors to consider before agreeing to let a bigger company acquire your startup.

Potential Buyers

First, it is important to understand what kind of buyers/acquirers you may encounter:

Venture Capitalists

Potential buyers could be venture capitalists (VCs), who want to take your company to a new level. In some cases, VCs offer to just invest in your company, while guiding you to success; but in others, the VCs might ask you to step aside, sell your interest, and give up your job in exchange for a large sum of money. If you elect to take VC money as an investment, your investors will likely point out areas of improvement to increase profits. In the case of most startups, few thoroughly analyze their operation for potential problem sectors.

A Competitor

You may not be the only company in the market for your particular product or service, and might have numerous competitors. A competitor may wish to acquire your startup to capture your customers as theirs, or they may buy your company so they can shut it down to eliminate their competition.

Strategic Buy

A company that your startup supplies to may find it more practical to acquire your business rather than pay you money for your products as its vendor. Alternatively, a company may want to buy your company so that it can sell your products to their customers under their name.

Intellectual Property

Patents, trademarks, and other intellectual property can be highly valuable, and if you have a patented product or a trade name that another company wants, you can be an acquisition target.

Now What?

We’ve identified the different buyers that may want to acquire you, and their possible reasons for wanting to acquire your startup, which is the easy part. The next step is to identify how to make your company visible and attractive to potential acquirers. The following is a list of things you will need to do this:

Those with the Means to Acquire You

When big companies look to expand, they have to decide whether to build or buy. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say that General Mills is looking to add energy bars to their arsenal, which your startup happens to produce. General Mills can always start an energy bar division from scratch, but if a company exists that already meets their criteria, then buying that company may be more cost effective than building one from scratch. If you are setting yourself up as an acquisition target, you need to first identify potential buyers, and then once they have been targeted, you need to get your startup ready.

A Solid Vision

It is important to make sure your company’s vision aligns with your potential acquirer. For example, if Pepsi is the targeted buyer, and they are currently looking to target a healthier market, you should tailor your next big product launch to be for a health-based drink, and not something like Super Sweet Natural Sugar Flavored Tea.

The idea is to look for and attract potential acquirers that are compatible with the products and services of your startup.

An Attractive Product

If acquisition is the main goal, you will need a superior product. An old-school business motto is that to enter a market, you need a product or service that is better, cheaper and faster than the ones that already exist. Today, disruptive is also on that list. Clayton Christensen described disruption as an “innovation that creates a new market and value network and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing established market leading firms, products and alliances.” Chief examples are Uber and Lyft.

Talent

Sometimes an acquirer can be drawn in by a well-oiled team. A company will consider buying a startup if they know the team is well-versed in the product or service and they can avoid the learning curve that comes with hiring new people.

A Good Story

Another thing in common about startups that are successfully acquired is a great story. That great story can be about how you develop your products, build your company structure, serve your customers, and simultaneously plan for the future. A great story goes a long way in attracting potential acquirers.

Proprietary Technology

Technological integration of your product or service can really boost the chances of acquisition. For example, well-developed app or system that efficiently moves your product or service into your customer’s hands can quickly make you visible to bigger companies looking to expand.

History

Companies with a clean history will have a much better chance of being acquired. A recent CEO looking for financing on Shark Tank was was rejected once the sharks discovered that the company had lost $14 million earlier and had been operating for 10 years without showing a profit.

Joint Value

Finally, position yourself so that you can show how a potential deal will add value to both you and your acquirer. The key is to show the potential acquirer that their purchase will push them towards profitability, while making certain that your efforts and hard work are also rewarded.

This article  was originally posted on UpCounsel

What to Ask Your Attorney About Legal Expenses and Intellectual Property

1. What is the legal team’s background in working with other clients in a similar industry, company size, or stage as a small business owner?

Different industries have different needs. If representing a food-catering business, you will need to know about various local and city permits needed to obtain. If presenting e-commerce businesses, you need to be familiar with internet sale taxes cross state lines. A large company is most likely to require more extensive business, investment, and employment contracts than a startup due to transaction size and risk exposure.

2. What is a realistic budget for legal expenses?

A quarterly, if not an annual, legal budget so small business owners know what amount to set aside.

3. What are realistic timelines for my company’s objectives?

Timeline of legal projects to undertake, their priorities, and how long it takes to accomplish them.

4. What kind of proprietary assets does the company have? Has the company adequately protected its intellectual property?

This is key to understanding fees for budgeting purposes.

5. What is the legal team’s background in working with other clients in a similar industry, company size, or stage as a small business owner?

Different industries have different needs. If representing a food-catering business, you will need to know about various local and city permits needed to obtain. If presenting e-commerce businesses, you need to be familiar with internet sale taxes cross state lines. A large company is most likely to require more extensive business, investment, and employment contracts than a startup due to transaction size and risk exposure.

6. What is the best way a small business owner can protect personal wealth and assets from business risks?

Incorporate the business, treat the business as a separate entity with separate bank accounts, and document important decisions made during the course of the business (such as raising capital, taking on loans, entering into major business contracts) with your business partner. Typically, such documents are known as directors’ resolutions or minutes.

7. What specifically are small business owners most confused about when you first meet with them?

The type of entity to form – LLCs, C corps., S corps., and which state to incorporate.

8. How can quality legal services help a small business grow?

Quality legal services will help a small business grow in two ways. Internally, quality legal services can build a foundation upon which the small business can grow and expand quickly, such as streamlining the process of raising capital, recruitment, awarding of incentive compensation, and creating templates for business contracts. Externally, quality legal services can help small businesses immensely in contract negotiations with Fortune 500 companies, as some of those contracts can be very convoluted. An experienced attorney’s job will be to assist the client in getting favorable terms, protect the client from taking on responsibilities that outweigh the benefits the client will be receiving, while at the same time maintaining a good relationship with the Fortune 500 company with hopes of such Fortune 500 company to further engage the client.

9. How can quality legal services help small businesses save money?

Quality legal services will advise small businesses what’s a necessary legal expense, what is optional. For example, I have a startup client who would like to file 10 trademark applications to cover their products. As their lawyer and knowing they are a startup, my job is to see if there is a way to file fewer applications that will cover just as wide of a scope, or at least to cover the important products.

10. How can small businesses maximize the value of their legal team’s services?

Provide your legal team with adequate context surrounding a legal matter. For example, when asking your legal team to review a contract, it will be helpful to provide your legal team with a bit of history regarding the relationship between the parties, how important the project is to the small business, so the legal team knows how aggressive it should be. Also, it really helps the legal team if the client is very organized and asks focused questions!

11. Should business partners have the same amount of equity in a company? Why or why not?

As long as the equity split does not contribute to a deadlock situation, this should be fine. For example, if only two business partners, a 50/50 split will not be a good idea. However, if there are three business partners, it’s OK to have 33 1/3 split each, as a deadlock situation is not possible.

12. What are the top three things a small business owner should be aware of when purchasing an existing business?

Accurately determine the value, review the business’s tax returns to determine profitability, and if there is any outstanding tax liability, determine why the business is for sale.

This Article was originally posted on UpCounsel

Protecting Intellectual Property: An Easy Guide for Startups

What Is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (IP) is a general term for the rights recognized by U.S. law for creations of the mind, including:

  • Patents – rights granted to inventors for novel and useful inventions.
  • Trademarks – rights granted to businesses relating to the branding of their goods and services (company, product and service names).
  • Copyrights – rights granted to authors for tangible expressions of ideas (art, literature, music, software code, architectural plans).
  • Trade secrets – rights granted to businesses relating to their unique and valuable intangible assets (business processes, client and customer lists, procedures, practices, formulae, research notes, market data).

Types of Patents

There are three types of patents that every startup should be aware of:

Utility Patents – According to the USPTO, utility patents are for inventions, “… of a new and useful process, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter, or a new and useful improvement thereof.” Utility patents are for the protection of how an invention is used and works.

Business Method Patents – Business methods are also protectable under U.S. patent law. A business method patent is actually a form of utility patent that protects new methods of doing business, such as those used, for example, in banking, tax compliance, and e-commerce, to name a few.

Design Patents – Design patents, as described by the USPTO, are “Issued for a new, original, and ornamental design embodied in or applied to an article of manufacture.” A design patent, “permits its owner to exclude others from making, using, or selling the design.” A design patent may provide protection for IP when a utility patent is unavailable.

All three types of patents should be considered by a startup as part of its IP protection strategy.

Why Is Intellectual Property Important to a Startup?

If your startup or early-stage business has IP rights, you can:

  • Put the world on notice that you own those rights by registering them with the U.S. Copyright Office or the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and by using the proper notice symbols on tangible materials that contain your IP (©, ® and Patent Pending).
  • Prevent unauthorized third parties (infringers) from unfairly competing with you by reproducing your copyrighted works, using confusingly similar trademarks on their products, making/selling products similar to your patented products, or stealing your trade secrets.
  • Use your IP rights to generate revenue by (1) directly selling copyrighted, branded, patented, or other proprietary products and services, or (2) licensing your copyrights, trademarks, patents and trade secrets to others in exchange for royalties.
  • Build joint ventures and alliances with other companies to develop and sell new products and services by combining your IP rights with intellectual property owned by your strategic partners.

Important Steps for Startups to Take for IP Protection

1. Engage an IP lawyer

IP rights function like government-sanctioned monopolies, and that exclusivity can potentially make them very valuable. For that reason, intellectual property law is complicated and imposes various requirements on IP owners to claim, protect and preserve their IP rights (and to prevent IP assets from falling into the public domain — i.e., available for anyone to use without the owner’s permission). Your startup will need a reputable lawyer who specializes in IP law to help you devise an effective strategy for managing and protecting your IP, and to avoid the common mistakes business people make that can have serious legal and financial implications.

Because many IP rights depend upon confidentiality (for example, inventions that have been publicized prior to filing a patent application cannot be patented — see the discussion of “EPD” below), a lawyer is the ideal advisor for a startup since lawyers are ethically and legally required to keep all of your communications confidential. A non-lawyer IP consultant does not have strict confidentiality obligations unless you have a contract imposing such obligations.

2. Identify Your IP

Make a comprehensive list of every business idea, invention, new product or service concept (or any improvement or advance to an existing product/service), potential product name, slogan, logo, business process, market or customer niche, or other proprietary idea that you think your startup owns and is unique and potentially valuable. Your lawyer can help you figure out whether these ideas, concepts, inventions, names and business processes qualify as potential patents, copyrights, trademarks or trade secrets.

3. Make sure you own the IP

Before you can determine whether your IP is protectable (including, for example, by registering it in the U.S. or abroad) you’ll need to confirm that your company actually owns the IP (and can continue to own it if things happen in the future):

  • Do your former employers own the IP? If you and your co-founders created the IP for your startup while you were employed by other companies, check your old employment agreements to make sure that your prior employers do not have grounds for a potential claim. If you developed your new business’ ideas during work hours, or while using the prior employer’s resources, you could be at risk.
  • What happens if you and your co-founders break up? The startup should continue to own the IP even if one or more founders walk out the door. You don’t want a former founder setting up an identical competing business. Ask your IP lawyer to draft a simple Intellectual Property Assignment agreement that ensures the company owns the IP even if the relationship turns sour.
  • Have you given away rights in the DIY contracts you drafted? If your startup signed up customers or suppliers before hiring a lawyer (likely to save money), you need to have your lawyer review those agreements. Ask your lawyer to read through all of your existing contracts to make sure that you haven’t agreed to terms that grant more IP rights to your customers and suppliers than absolutely necessary.

4. Research Your IP

Once you have a list of your startup’s significant IP, you need to confirm the extent to which that IP is unique and original (and therefore legally protectable).

Search the patent records on the USPTO’s website to see if your invention (or something very similar) has already been patented. Then do a “prior art” search on the internet to find out if a non-patented version of your invention already exists. If your invention or an essential part of it is already in the patent records or out in the world, you will not be able to patent it.

Similarly, you’ll want to search the trademark database on the USPTO’s website and the internet in general to see if your startup’s potential business and product names are available. If similar names are already in use in the marketplace on similar products (or if similar names have been applied for or registered with the USPTO for similar products), those trademarks may not be available.

5. Avoid Enabling Public Disclosure (EPD)

As mentioned above, confidentiality is crucial for patentable inventions. Once an invention has been “publicly disclosed” by the inventor, she only has a year to file a patent application with the USPTO. The legal concept of enabling public disclosure (which helps determine what level of disclosure starts the clock running) means you’ve publicized enough information about your product to permit someone else in your industry to copy it. Trade shows, demonstrations to potential investors, press releases and articles in trade publications can be particularly risky for triggering EPD if you’re not planning to file quickly thereafter.

Your IP lawyer can help you avoid EPD as you develop and test your product.

6. Pick Your IP Battles

Money is in short supply for most startups, so you’ll want to map out with your IP lawyer what patents, registrations and other IP-related expenditures need to be prioritized over others. For example, you may decide that you will initially seek patent protection only for the company’s primary product, and protect other inventions as trade secrets using confidentiality agreements. Similarly, you may decide to initially register only the company’s main brand name as a trademark. Additional patents and registrations can often be deferred until more funds become available.

7. Protect Your IP from Investors

If are pitching your startup to potential investors in an effort to raise money, you will need to disclose at least some of your proprietary information to them. To avoid any loss of your IP rights, be sure to:

  • Keep careful records of exactly who has been given access to your private placement memo, business plan or slide presentations, and ask the potential investors to (1) confirm in writing, through non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), that they will not copy or share such materials with others, and (2) return or destroy all paper and electronic copies of the materials if they decide not to invest.
  • Distribute paper or electronic copies of your investor materials only to a limited number of pre-screened potential investors and their advisors. The fewer copies in circulation, the better.

8. Protect IP From Employees and Contractors

To prevent employees and consultants who work for your company from stealing your valuable IP assets and disclosing them to competitors (or starting their own businesses to compete with you), you’ll need them to sign NDAs to keep company information confidential, that is, not disclose company information to third parties. The agreements should also include an acknowledgment that all rights to the inventions or copyrightable material created by them while working for your company are automatically transferred to, and owned by, your company. (Your lawyer can draft an employee/consultant agreement template for you.)

9. Protect Your IP Globally

Many startups fail to recognize the importance of protecting their IP rights outside of the U.S. While applying for a patent in the U.S. is the right place to start, startups need to consider an international patent strategy if they believe their inventions will eventually be sold in other countries. As part of that strategy, startups should consider filing an international patent application (with the USPTO, if a U.S. resident) under the provisions of the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT.) A patent application via the PCT provides protection in over 100 countries for up to 18 months to allow for patent filings in those countries where protection is sought.

10. Consider a Provisional Patent Application

provisional patent application is a document filed with the USPTO that establishes an early filing date for the subsequent filing for a non-provisional utility patent. It also allows for the applicant use the term “Patent Pending” in documents describing its invention.

Filing for the non-provisional patent must be done within 12 months of the provisional patent application. A provisional patent application requires inclusion of a specification, but is filed without a formal patent claim, oath or declaration, or information disclosure statement.

11. Consider Track One Prioritized Examination

The USPTO’s Prioritized Patent Examination Program (Track One) allows patent filers to expedite the examination and patent issuance process to less than 12 months. Track One prioritization comes at a substantial cost ($4,000 for large entities, $2,000 for small entities, and $1,000 for micro-entities). However, obtaining a patent earlier can provide a startup with several advantages, including a quicker resulting increase in company valuation, and the ability to obtain foreign patents in a shorter period of time.

This Article was originally posted on UpCounsel