When Do I Need a Non-Disclosure Agreement?

Non-disclosure agreements (“NDAs”) are possibly the most misunderstood category of legal documents.  To some, they are boilerplate forms that you can download from the Internet and use with little to no revision needed. To others, they are intimidating and overwhelming due to the complicated legalese they contain.  Some believe an NDA should be required prior to almost any business discussion with anyone.  Others ... Read More

Resolving Business Disputes Out of Court: Mediation and Arbitration

To say that resolving business disputes in court is expensive and time-consuming would be a gross understatement. Fortunately, a few alternatives to the costly headache of litigation have developed over the years.  Two such options are mediation and arbitration. Each has its own benefits and drawbacks. In this article I will explain some of the advantages and disadvantages of each and how they are different. Both ... Read More

The Acquisition of Trademark Rights From Third Parties

The most common way of acquiring trademark rights is to create them. Businesses create trademarks every day in the form of words, logos, taglines, etc. Registration of a mark is not required to acquire rights in it. Rather, using the mark as the lawful owner establishes certain legal rights. It is advisable to seek registration of your trademarks to secure substantial additional legal benefits, however, the key to ... Read More

4 Issues You Should Discuss With Your Co-Founders Before Starting Any Business

Entering into a new business enterprise can be exciting. Having a well-crafted written agreement among the founders is an essential element to successfully managing expectations and avoiding disputes down the road. Before you can start putting anything in writing, however, you must reach agreement on some basic terms. Here are four important topics you should cover in your initial discussions to avoid difficulties in ... Read More

Crowdfunding for Business, Part II: North Carolina’s PACES Act

This article is a continuation of a recent entry: “Crowdfunding: The Newest Way to Fund Your Business Venture, Part I We recently introduced you to the JOBS Act, which, among other things, allows crowdfunding for companies through the Internet using donors who are not accredited investors. Despite the JOBS Act being adopted in 2012, it was not until very recently that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ... Read More

The Trademark Continuum, Part II: The Battle Between Marketing and Legal

This article is the second installment in our series on the trademark continuum of identification.    In the first installment of this series, we presented a brief overview of the trademark continuum spectrum and how marks are rated on the spectrum based upon their distinctiveness. With this background, we’ll now address the problem that often arises for entrepreneurs and companies trying to name a business, ... Read More

Crowdfunding: The Newest Way to Fund Your Business Venture, Part I

This is the first in a series of two articles on crowdfunding. Be sure to check back next month for the second installment. Investing in new business ventures has traditionally been by private invitation only for accredited and wealthy investors. Until recent years, a typical example of “crowdfunding” might have amounted to taking up a collection to help your neighbor pay for his new pool. Thanks to the Jumpstart ... Read More

Where Does Your Brand Fall on the “Trademark Continuum”?

This is the first in a series of two articles on the concept of the “trademark continuum”. Be sure to check back next month for the second installment. Not all trademarks are created equally, and not all trademarks get the same amount of protection from courts. It is important to understand where a trademark lands on the “trademark continuum,” which is a concept that is frequently used to illustrate the legal ... Read More

Why Bother Filing a Trademark Application? Here Are 5 Reasons

I am often asked by new business owners to describe the advantages of applying for federal trademark protection (and the risks associated with doing nothing).  Despite the relatively low cost related to doing so, the majority of small businesses do not adequately clear and register their trademarks.  Proper trademark planning and protection are essential for every business.  Here are five reasons why. ... Read More

Using DIY Contracts: A Money-Saving Tool or Dangerous Trap for Entrepreneurs?

Entrepreneurs are typically by their nature enterprising, quick-thinking, and resourceful. These attributes serve them well because they wear many hats when starting a business.  Sometimes business founders find themselves in the roles of CEO, secretary, accountant, and even general counsel all in the same day. I am well acquainted with the realities of limited startup budgets, and that paying for any form of outside ... Read More