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As 2019 is getting into full swing, it is important to have a handle on the legal aspects of your business. Below, I outline the items integral to legal success for entrepreneurs in the new year. I call it the Entrepreneur’s New Year Legal Toolkit. These items include evaluations of employees, corporate governance, asset protection, intellectual property and real estate.
In the new year, you should perform an audit of who your employees are. Does your company have a nondisclosure agreement with each employee? Did you have them sign anything to ensure that all trade secrets are protected? Are there noncompete agreements? Are there nonsolicitation agreements? How thoroughly were these agreements reviewed beforehand? Especially with intellectual property in the digital age, it is important to review this.
It is important to confirm that all your company’s published works are copyrighted, any of your proprietary code is patented and that you have spoken with and consulted the necessary IP counsel. This IP counsel can either be in-house or outside counsel. If you are a consumer brands company, you have to discuss and revisit trademarks and trademarking all your products. This again involves speaking to in-house or outside counsel to confirm that the process has been accomplished properly.
First of all, who handles the corporate governance at your institution? If it is a public company, who does the public filings with the SEC? Who handles the meeting with the board, and who prepares the agenda? If your company is not public, chances are you still have board meetings. Who will handle setting these up and scheduling? It is also important to ensure that you follow the letter of law under bylaws of the company. Another element to ensure is in place is the company set of books. How will these be formalized? Will they be kept somewhere in the corporate office or online?
In terms of asset protection, it is important to discuss insurance policies for all real estate and equipment that the corporation may have. Is all the equipment categorized and protected? Is all the real estate insured? Make sure you have a point of contact for insurance and one for real estate. Often, this is one agent who handles all the above items. There may be several types of equipment to account for — for example, a forklift in Houston, a dump truck in San Marino, etc.
You are going to want to do a full audit of all the corporate real estate assets to properly evaluate all the leases, purchase and sale contracts, etc. If you own property with maintenance contracts on it, are there service contracts on the properties? Is there janitorial staff that works on these properties? Are there employees to monitor the properties for financial modeling so if you sublet a portion of the property, you know how your tenants are performing? Are they paying on a consistent basis and reimbursing you? Are the taxes being paid? Is the common area maintenance being paid? When are replacements and repairs on the building going to have to be performed? Who is in charge of those decisions?
Evaluating the above items will aid significantly in ensuring your company starts off 2019 with strong legal protections in place.
January 31, 2019 at 09:45AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs