Articles Posted in Start-Ups & Financing

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:

Fotolia_206780729_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x129Hiring a new employee is an important business decision that can impact your business’s success. You must take the necessary steps to protect both your business and keep your employee happy, especially today when the unemployment rate is at a historic low . If your San Jose business is considering hiring a new employee, there are some things you might consider.

Confidentiality Agreement

Your business likely has certain information it must keep confidential. This might be company trade secrets, business methods, and sensitive employee or customer data and information. Liability concerns and legal compliance with laws (e.g., HIPPA) require a business to have safeguards in place. One of these safeguards might include a confidentiality agreement.  A confidentiality agreement is a specially crafted legal agreement that an employee signs upon acceptance of his or her employment, or inherently agrees to through the employee handbook. The agreement should include remedies if an employee breaches the confidentiality agreement. A skilled San Jose business attorney can assist your business in drafting the necessary agreement tailored to your business’s needs.

Fotolia_180008799_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200Startup companies often use stock options to attract new quality talent. If you have decided to do so, there are some special considerations when deciding the best approach to compensate your employees. Two common approaches include restricted stock and stock options.

What is Restricted Stock?

Restricted stock is a stock plan that gives particular employees a right to purchase stock shares. These restricted shares may be at a discounted value, fair market value, or even at no cost. Despite the right to buy the restricted stock, the shares are not actually owned by the employee until a particular triggering event occurs. For example, a company may restrict the transfer of the stock until a particular amount of time has elapsed (e.g., three years from the date of hire). Another example would be a condition regarding company performance (e.g., $1m in gross revenue). The employee then takes possession after the triggering event occurs, thereby lifting the “restriction” on the stock.

Budget-Planning-300x200Starting a new business can be an overwhelming proposition for any Silicon Valley startup business. An experienced business startup attorney can help you build a profitable business from the ground up by finding appropriate financing, effectively forecasting your business expenses and helping you budget effectively.

Finding the Right Financing

The first step to an effective financial plan is putting in place the right startup capital for your particular business. Venture capital is among the most popular financing options for Silicon Valley startups, but it is not right for every business. VC deals often contain onerous terms for profitability, repayment, or reinvestment. Not every business can meet these demands. Accessing venture capital also brings in more stakeholders who have a greater say in the operation of your business. This is the very situation that many startup business owners are looking to avoid.