5 Things Every Creative Entrepreneur Should Know About IP and Business Law

Posted under , , , , , on January 26th, 2012 by Michelle Leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.

Today was the first Lunch and Learn at Cincinnati CoWorks, and we had a great talk from Erich Hemm, the founder and principal of the Law Offices of Erich Hemm, LLC. He’s based here in Cincinnati and helps a ton of start-ups cover the bases when it comes to intellectual property.

I think a lot of creative entrepreneurs get so caught up in the BIG IDEA they’re trying to execute that the legal details easily fall by the wayside. You might look up one day and think, “Should I be a corporation or have contracts or something?” It’s important stuff, but not necessarily fun for those of us focused on writing, design, programming or another passion.

Hemm shared a ton of good advice today, but I’m going to sum up a few points that stuck out to me:

1.) Know Your Current Situation If you’re making the leap from full-time employment to entrepreneur, you need to think about your legal obligations to your current employer. Do you have an employment agreement? Or a non-compete? Does your employer own any ideas you come up with while on the payroll? Think through these questions before you make the break.

2.) Not All Entities Are Created Equal We’re talking business entities, here, and it’s a good idea to have one. Forming a C-corp, S-corp or LLC helps protect your personal assets if something should go awry with your business. Hemm suggests steering clear of what he calls the “P words”—proprietorship and partnership.

3.) Keep Your Paperwork in Order There’s proper documentation associated with each type of entity, and it pays to invest in that preparation. Even if you have a one-person LLC, for instance, you need to have a Membership Agreement. Take the appropriate steps to make your business legitimate.

4.) Plan for the Divorce While You’re Still on the Honeymoon Starting a business with your best friend? Or a couple of folks with complementary skills? Now’s the time to figure out who’s responsible for what and how you’ll proceed if one person wants out of the business. As Hemm says, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

5.) Choose a Brand Name You Can Protect Your brand’s name is part of your business’s intellectual property, but some names are easier to protect under the law than others. A generic name (i.e. Hardhat Construction) is harder to protect than something arbitrary (i.e. Apple) or fanciful (i.e. Lululemon). Keep that in mind when you’re choosing a company moniker.

Want to learn more? Don’t miss our next Lunch and Learn. It’s on Thursday, February, 9, with Lorain Pettit, CPA. She’ll be offering up advice on tax issues for small business owners. It’s FREE, so we hope to see you there (I mean, here, at Cincy Coworks)!

Posted under , , , , , on January 26th, 2012 by Michelle Leave a comment, or trackback from your own site.

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