Articles Posted in Start-Ups & Financing

AdobeStock_258960515-300x200In recent years, it has become more and more common for technology and other startups to attract and compensate their employees through grants of stock and stock options.  In Silicon Valley, stock options have become an expected element of compensation.  For startups competing with more established companies for talent, stock and stock option grants have become an effectively mandatory element of compensation.

The ubiquity of stock options masks their underlying legal complexity.  Employers need to ensure that their equity compensation programs comply with applicable law, including federal and state securities laws, or risk substantial fines and other penalties.  For example, Credit Karma was fined $160,000 by the SEC for failure to comply with the federal securities laws.

Federal and State Securities Laws

AdobeStock_274449599-300x199Launching a startup is an exciting time for entrepreneurs. There are many people involved in many processes that could make or break your business. During this time, your intellectual property (IP) can be exposed to many different people and businesses. It is important to protect it from theft and unlicensed usage. At Structure Law Group, our experienced Silicon Valley startup attorneys know how to protect your legal interests in IP at all stages of business formation. Call 408-441-7500 to schedule your consultation with a lawyer.

The Reasons Entrepreneurs Don’t Protect Their Intellectual Property

Forbes recently reported on some of the most common reasons entrepreneurs fail to protect their property:

In late 2018, CarrierEQ Inc. (Airfox) and Paragon Coin, Inc. were investigated and ordered by the SEC to make refunds available to their investors – in sum, the SEC’s order meant that Airfox may have to refund nearly 15 million dollars while Paragon would have to potentially refund 12 million dollars. These SEC reports highlight the importance of hiring an experienced blockchain attorney in this emerging field of law. From drafting your Articles of Organization to structuring your initial coin offering (ICO) or security token offering (STO), protecting the cryptocurrency of your clients with an experienced Silicon Valley blockchain attorney at Structure Law Group, LLP is essential.

Understanding Security Token Offerings (STO) & Blockchain Technology 

Unlike well-known digital currencies like Bitcoin or Ethereum, STO’s are security token offerings that allow companies to sell digital tokens to accredited investors prior to the digital tokens having any technical functionality.  This means STOs are often governed by federal security laws and must be registered with the SEC or find a proper exemption from registration. STOs are designed to function as traditional securities but are offered, sometimes in fractions, through blockchain transactions. Blockchain technology offers many benefits, including:

So, you’ve decided to incorporate your business in California and form a corporation. This corporate structure provides multiple benefits in California, including certain California tax benefits and legal protections. Every state has different requirements for forming a corporation, and California is no different. Whether you’re incorporating a new business, a small business converting to a corporation, or a multi-national corporation coming to the states, the experienced corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP can help. Contact our experienced business attorneys at 408-441-7500 or online to schedule your free corporate consultation.

Types of Corporate Entities in California 

There are multiple types of business entities in California. From a sole proprietorship to a general stock corporation, you must choose the entity that’s right for you. Once you elect to form a California corporation, you must choose which type of corporation best suits your business. California recognizes the following types of corporations:

Avoiding the Most Common Business Lawsuits 

Defending against any lawsuit has the potential to sink a Silicon Valley start-up. You must defend against even frivolous litigation especially so in today’s fast-paced and ever-expanding startup industry. There is no way to bulletproof a business from all litigation, but there are ways to greatly reduce the likelihood of lawsuits and their financial impact on your business. The experienced business litigation attorneys at Structure Law Group, LLP can help advise and protect start-ups against business litigation before it happens. While you can’t protect against all litigation, you can protect against the most common legal complaints against businesses. Business attorneys commonly defend against the following lawsuits:

  1. Breach of Contract Claims – Sometimes start-ups enter into contracts that aren’t favorable, or they run out of funding to fulfill their obligations. The business lawyers at Structure Law Group can review and draft the terms of any proposed contracts and include certain protective indemnification and liquidated damage clauses to reduce the cost of or prevent litigation.

In the Silicon Valley technology sector, intellectual property is more than just a buzzword. It is an asset with the potential to generate significant income for years to come. Intellectual property includes patents, copyrights, and trademarks. Many employers protect their intellectual property with invention assignment agreements and confidentiality agreements.

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What types of Agreement can be used to protect my company’s intellectual property?

There are many different types of agreements that employers can use to protect their intellectual property. The appropriate one for your business depends on what specific protections your business wishes to enact. An invention assignment agreement is a contract that establishes the employer’s ownership over all creations (including patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets, and other inventions) that are created at the employer’s expense on company time.

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In many instances, an offering memorandum – also commonly known as an OM or an “offering memo” – is something which is necessary in order to raise a certain amount of capital from corporate investors. This document is also one of the most important documents to hand to a company investor, in addition to the company’s business plan.

While the main purpose of a company’s business plan is to detail the company’s model and how the company plans to make money, the offering memorandum is a document which lays out what the company’s investors will obtain in return for their overall investment in the company. Once an offering memorandum is given to an investor, he or she can then choose to invest in the company based upon the financial information contained therein.

For more information about drafting a complete offering memorandum, you should contact the Silicon Valley corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group today.

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How Can a Founder be Removed as an Employee?

You may expect the founder of a company to remain in charge of the enterprise until it the founder either retires or the company closes up shop. After all, the company would not exist without the founder, so they should retain control over their own business, right? However, there are situations where founders and CEOs are removed from their positions in an organization.

It may not seem fair that a founder starts a business from scratch, work long hours every day to build the business, find investors, and then have the investors decide that someone else should lead the company in further growth. When money is on the line, however, investors will make sure to do what is best for the company. Ousting founders seems particularly common in the tech industry, and the following are only some examples of removed founders:

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For decades, the traditional 40-hour per week work schedule has involved working five eight-hour days per week, often Monday through Friday. However, in recent years, many companies have realized the benefits of offering alternative work schedules for employees. Such benefits include improved job satisfaction, employee morale, additional opportunities for public service, reduced time off work for medical appointments and child-related obligations, and more.

Employees have many reasons for preferring an alternative schedule to the traditional nine-to-five. A popular schedule is working four 10-hour days in a week and having a consistent three-day weekend. However, California overtime laws traditionally required employers to pay overtime rates – time-and-a-half regular hourly pay – for any hours worked over eight in a day. In recent years, the legislature adapted California law to address new employment trends to allow and even encourage employers to offer alternative workweek schedules (AWWS) to employees without paying overtime rates.

Employers should be careful to comply with all relevant laws when offering an AWWS to employees in order to prevent liability. If you are considering offering an AWWS, it is always wise to first consult with an experienced employment and business attorney.

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It is always advisable for employers to have an employee handbook, which will contain important information that protects you legally. Even if a company only has a few employee, without a handbook, it might expose itself to the greater risk of a lawsuit regarding sexual harassment, wrongful termination, and other wrongful treatment of employees.

What to Include in Your Handbook

A handbook is a great reference for employees, who can return to the handbook if they have questions. A handbook also forces employers to carefully consider their philosophy and the rules of the business. An adequate handbook should contain: