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.

Fotolia_194134312_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200It may seem simple to try and put together a shareholder agreement on your own. However, a carefully drafted shareholder agreement is imperative to how your business functions in the present, but more importantly how you might need to handle things in the future. You will want your shareholder agreement to be carefully drafted to match your business’ specific needs. Even though every shareholder agreement will be different, there are some common components that most shareholder agreements include.

Governance Procedures

The shareholder agreement can outline how often meetings should be held. It can also describe the process for general or special meetings, quorum needed for specific types of matters, and how notices for the meetings should be sent. The addition of theses details not only spells out the procedural process, but also notifies members of their duties and rights as a shareholder.

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It seems almost once a week there is data breach in the news-Facebook, Experian, Target, Delta Airlines. The list goes on and on. San Jose business owners have a legal obligation to protect their customers’ personal information (also called Personally Identifiable Information or PII). Every business, regardless of the size, should have a privacy policy and measures to safeguard PII. This is especially true if your business collects user information online or stores sensitive employee information.

What is Personally Identifiable Information (PII)?

PII is any information that can be used to identify an individual’s personal identity. There are many definitions, but most often the following list is considered PII:

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Securities law is something you might hear in the news because of some violation or in relation to white-collar crime. With the wild ride that the stock market, including the gradual introduction of permissible, legal trading of cryptocurrencies (like bitcoin) and tokens from initial coin offerings (“ICO’s”), has securities laws a popular, researched and well-debated topic among entrepreneurs, businesses, investors, lawyers, and regulators. But, what are these laws? Securities laws are detailed and complex laws that govern securities. Below, we discuss some of the basic concepts of securities laws. For more information, contact a Mountain View transctional attorney today.

Understanding Securities

A security is a common word used in investment circles. It is a broad term that refers to the instrument used in certain transactions, financing or investments that are sold in various financial markets. The Supreme Court uses the Howey Test to determine whether a transaction represents and investment contract (and thus a security) by using the following definition of when an investment contract is a security: “a person invests his money in a common enterprise and is led to expect profits solely from the efforts of the promoter or a third party.” Examples of securities include:

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Uber is almost an institution in many of our daily lives, much like Google, Amazon, or Apple. But even though many of us may simply think of Uber as the name that fulfills many of our transportation needs, it is still a company – it has offices, hires people, fights for its rights, and makes corporate policies and decisions. To this end, over the last several years Uber has been making headlines, and one reason for this is that the way in which Uber classifies its drivers has come under heavy scrutiny. In the past, Uber has been involved in heavy litigation in order to classify its drivers as “independent contractors” as opposed to employees (discussed further below), and a recently settled case involving this very issue will have a lasting effect on this classification.

Independent Contractors vs. Employees

The IRS treats independent contractors and employees very differently for tax purposes. According to the IRS, an independent contractor is a person who has a high degree of control over their work . Independent contractors are also typically not offered benefits.

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Palo Alto business owners are faced with heavy competition in the Silicon Valley, all of which are looking for the best practices, methods, and trade secrets. Some of a company’s most valuable assets can be found in your intellectual property. Each year intellectual property theft costs businesses billions of dollars. If you think your intellectual property might be at risk of being stolen or you can confirm it has been stolen, you need to act fast.

Different Types of Intellectual Property

In order to protect yourself from Intellectual Property theft, a business owner must first define what they need to protect. For example, if the business owners want to secure a method of a certain process, a formula specific to their company, or even lock down a logo and name to fight off competition, there will be different applicable forms of legal protection to consider and utilize. There are several forms of protection, some of them being:

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A lis pendens, or Notice of Pendency of Action, is a legal notice which is filed with the recorder’s office that provides notice that there is legal action pending against the parcel of real property at issue. This area of law can be complicated, but at a minimum, it is important to understand that a lis pendens action can prevent sales and other legal transactions with respect to your real property, as the property will be found to not have “clear title” upon a basic title search.  A California real estate attorney can help you and your business resolve all matters related to lis pendens notices.

The Basics of Lis Pendens in California

In much the same way that a recorded property deed gives notice of an ownership interest, a Notice of Pendency of Action gives notice of a legal interest in real property. Both types of notice are considered to be “constructive”. This means that even if a third party does not actually find the recorded notice, he or she could have with a simple search and is legally deemed to have received notice of the action. The third party is therefore bound to the notice whether or not it was actually discovered.

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Many companies conduct business in California without having incorporated under the laws of this state. While this is entirely lawful, it does expose such businesses to civil liability. This risk can be mitigated by filing a Certificate of Qualification. This process enables a foreign corporation to operate in California with the protection of California corporate laws. An experienced California corporate attorney can help your business determine whether filing a Certificate of Qualification is appropriate for your business. An experienced California Corporate  attorney can also help entrepreneurs determine which state they should incorporate their business in.

What is the Difference Between a Foreign and Domestic Corporation?

In California, a domestic corporation is one that has incorporated under the laws of California. A foreign corporation is one which has incorporated under the laws of another state.  As is common in business, many foreign corporations do business in California. This can expose the business to liability under California law. Any business which “reaches into” California for the purpose of doing business is subject to the jurisdiction of California courts over that transaction. Thus, a foreign company which does business in California may find itself subject to the jurisdiction of the California courts, but without the protection of California corporate laws.

Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) have recently become a popular new source of funding for Silicon Valley businesses. They are new and exciting, but they can also be risky. It is important for business owners considering an ICO to understand both blockchain processes and the securities laws which apply to digital currencies. The experienced corporate attorneys at Structure Law Group can help your business enter this emerging market cautiously in order to explore the many exciting possibilities it holds.

An ICO is a method of funding a new (or even established) company by selling its own form of cryptocurrency. The company may accept traditional payments or even other forms of cryptocurrency. This financing is then used to fund the company’s operations. Its new cryptocurrency gains value, and this allows many of the initial investments to appreciate.

While the goals of an ICO are the same as those of an initial public offering, the process has some critical differences. IPOs are heavily regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission. Investors are left with stock and voting rights which are clearly defined, and the entire process is underwritten by an investment bank. By contrast: an ICO has no underwriter, no equity or voting rights, and little regulation by the SEC. (The SEC is quickly adapting to this emerging market, and the regulatory landscape is likely to change drastically in the near future.) Interestingly, many ICOs involve new companies with little or no proven track record of financial success. Many do not even have products. All of these factors can make ICOs highly risky for investors.