Legal Issues

Q: What are limited liability companies (“LLCs”), and what should businesses know 
about them?
A: LLCs are a new type of business entity that emerged in the early 1990s. They have many important legal and tax characteristics, but the key ones are these:
  • Liability shield. LLCs provide their owners (called “members”) with a statutory liability shield that is essentially identical to the corporate shield.

About the Author

John Cunningham is a N.H. business lawyer whose practice is focused on LLC law and tax. He chaired the N.H. Business and Industry Association committee that drafted the Revised New Hampshire Limited Liability Company Act, a radical revision of New Hampshire LLC law that went into effect on January 1st. LLCs are, by a wide margin, the entities of choice for N.H. business start-ups.

Steve Strauss, founder of www.theselfemployed.com, explains how and why business ideas may or may not be able to be protected.

During a business start-up’s early stages, it’s really the last thing on your mind that something could happen to one of the partners (or even yourself). But if that came to be, it could put a share of the business up for grabs and everyone’s dreams at risk. Investing a little time and energy into what’s known as a buy-sell agreement can create rock-solid protections for your business in the face of life’s many changes.

What is a buy-sell agreement?

Think of it as a “business prenup” or a “business will.” Whether you’re launching with one partner or 10, the buy-sell agreement protects stakeholders from sticky situations that could rock the entire boat. Like a will or a prenup, the buy-sell agreement sets up safeguards and outlines exactly how they can be resolved for the benefit of the remaining owners and the business itself.

About the Author

At Rocket Lawyer™ we believe everyone deserves easy and affordable legal services, which is why we’re proud to support the great work of SCORE members. We're offering free Professional Legal Plans to all SCORE mentors and members--visit http://go.rocketlawyer.com/SCORE to get started today!

A trademark is a symbol that distinguishes products and services in the marketplace. It can protect intellectual property, a brand name, a design, or can be applied to a business, product or used in connection with specific services. Trademark law protects you, the owner, from competitors stealing your identity or using a name or symbol so similar that it could cause confusion for your clients or customers. It’s important to gain a good understanding of trademarks in order to determine whether or not you need one.

For an overview of what trademark protection, trademark registration and the two main forms of trademark search — online and comprehensive are, read What is a Trademark?

Download this template to learn the ins and outs of bar and restaurant regulations.

About the Author

Rieva Lesonsky HeadshotBizSuccessTips Editor Rieva Lesonsky is founder and CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company. A nationally recognized small-business expert, Lesonsky has appeared on hundreds of radio shows and numerous local and national television programs. Read more of her insights at SmallBizDaily.com.

Commercial Lease Agreement Template

Have you invented the next big thing? If so, you've got to get a patent. It protects your invention and gives you exclusivity. Read this article by Steve Strauss to understand why patents are critical to your success and how you can get one for your business.

Patented ImageQ: I have invented what I think is “a better mousetrap.” How do I stop someone from stealing it? Do I need a patent or maybe a trademark? - LT 

About the Author

Steve Strauss HeadshotSteven D. Strauss is a lawyer and writer and is one of the country's leading experts on small business as well as an international business speaker. The best-selling author of 17 books, his latest is the all-new 3rd ed. of The Small Business Bible. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success Powered by Greatland, visit his new website for the self-employed, TheSelfEmployed, follow him on Twitter, and "like" TheSelfEmployed on Facebook. You can e-mail Steve at: sstrauss@mrallbiz.com. © Steven D. Strauss

Got a great idea? Follow these first steps from SCORE Counselor, Alan Tratner of Santa Barbara, CA.

Business Idea Protect1. Put all your ideas, notes and drawings in an inventor’s journal, and have it signed, witnessed and dated. Be careful about disclosing your ideas to anyone—use a confidentiality or non-disclosure document when discussing your ideas.

About the Author

Copyright © Alan Tratner. Alan is a SCORE counselor and the program manager of the Santa Barbara Small Business Development Center (SBSBDC).

Are you properly insured? Find out by using these five tips brought to you by SCORE Mentors.

Women WorkingAssess your company’s insurance needs. Property-casualty coverage isn’t enough. Consider a broad range of coverage, from business interruption and consequent loss of revenue to product liability and wrongful termination.

  • Shop around. Ask several agents to evaluate your insurable risks and listen to their ideas.

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