Articles Tagged with san jose business attorney

AdobeStock_133739956-300x200New technologies have drastically changed the ways in which new startups raise capital. Securities laws and regulations are adapting to these changes to ensure that investors are still protected under federal securities laws when investing via new technologies. Regulation CF (aka Title III of JOBS Act) is a relatively recent rule that took effect in 2016 and recently updated in 2020. It allows new business startups to raise equity through crowdfunding, which means private from all Americans, instead of the richest 2% Americans. More importantly, crowdfunding is typically used for new companies to turn their customers into their investors, which is exciting news for startup founders. Learn more about how crowdfunding works, what its legal limitations are, and how to determine whether Regulation CF is the right tool for your new company’s capital funding, is added to every startup founder’s to-do list.

New Rules Raising Investment Limits

According to the SEC, companies currently may raise an aggregate of $5 million in a twelve-month period through crowdfunding securities. This is a significant increase from the original $1.07 million limit. The new limit greatly expands a new company’s ability to raise capital through crowdfunding. These changes also work to level the inequalities faced by small companies looking for startup funding options. Traditionally, large companies have had a competitive advantage in access to startup funding, but crowdfunding has changed the dynamic considerably.

AdobeStock_271469937-300x200In general, shareholders are protected from liability for the debts of the corporation. This is because the corporation is viewed as a separate legal entity with its own assets and liabilities. This “corporate veil” of protection can, however, be pierced in certain situations, and personal liability imposed on the shareholders. Creditors use this legal tactic strategically to be sure they can access funds for what they are owed. The experienced California business attorneys at the Structure Law Group can help advise creditors on how to effectively pierce the corporate veil in order to satisfy the debts they are owed.

Elements of Alter Ego Liability

In order to pierce the corporate veil, the plaintiff must prove “alter ego liability.” Alter ego literally translates to “other self.” In alter ego liability, the corporation has been treated as an extension of shareholders’ personal interests, so the courts find it fair to hold shareholders liable for the corporation’s debts, as well. Plaintiffs in California must establish: (1) that there is a unity of ownership and interest between the owners (or shareholders) and the corporation, and (2) that it would be unfair to only hold the corporation accountable for its debts in order to establish alter ego liability.

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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:

Fotolia_69411638_Subscription_Monthly_M-300x200Contracts are essential to any business deal. No matter how close the parties and no matter how clearly the terms are spelled out, there is always a possibility of the other party breaching the contract. Whether a contract is with a vendor, another business, an employee, or any other party, a breach can cause financial harm to your company.

Fortunately, a contract should also dictate your rights and options to seek legal remedies in the event of a breach. Our experienced business and contract attorneys can help you through each step of this process to ensure the matter is resolved as efficiently and favorably as possible.

  1. Talk to the other party. Sometimes, a party to a contract may not even realize they are in breach of the agreement. If the breach involves non-payment, there may be ways to agree on a payment plan or another arrangement to fulfill the contract without taking legal action. It is always a good idea to speak with a party – or have your lawyer do so – to explore options to resolve the issue.

There are many California requirements for an investor to be a holder in due course.  A holder of an instrument is entitled to enforce the instrument.  However, a “holder in due course” has greater rights under the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) and the California Commercial Code (COM) than a holder who is not a holder in due course.  Specifically, a holder in due course takes an instrument free from many of the defenses to repayment that might have been asserted against the original obligee or against another assignee or holder not in due course.  An experienced San Jose business law firm can help business owners and investors understand their rights and requirements in order to be a holder in due course.

There are specific requirements that must be met for an investor to qualify as a holder in due course, including that:

  • The investor takes the instrument for value;

Section 544 of the Bankruptcy Code, commonly referred to as the “strong arm” clause, gives the bankruptcy trustee the rights of a secured creditor.  This allows the trustee to avoid for the benefit of the debtor’s creditors transfers or obligations that could have been avoided by an unsecured creditor under nonbankruptcy law, provided such creditor exists.  Generally, this allows the trustee to avoid unperfected liens and fraudulent transfers.

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Section 544 of the Bankruptcy Code sets out the strong arm clause in full.  Section 544 provides in relevant part that “[t]he trustee shall have, as of the commencement of the case, and without regard to any knowledge of the trustee or of any creditor, the rights and powers of, or may avoid any transfer of property of the debtor or any obligation incurred by the debtor” that could have been avoided by certain judicial lien holders or bona fide purchasers. The Bankruptcy Code can be confusing and intimidating to some.  An experienced San Jose bankruptcy lawyer can help creditors understand their rights, options and risks not only with the “strong arm” clause, but the entire Bankruptcy Code.

What Claims Can Be Avoided?

Government contracts can be lucrative for many companies, large or small. Often, one company wants to bid on a government contract but needs assistance from another company to fully perform the contracted work. In such cases, the two companies would combine their resources to share the bid and the contract, if awarded.  When this situation arises, it is critical to ensure that the companies have an agreement, a “teaming agreement”, stating how the work set forth in the government contract is to be divided to protect the interests of each business.

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Many teaming agreements involve a large corporation acting as the primary contractor and one or more smaller businesses acting as subcontractors. Smaller businesses naturally want to protect their interests against larger corporate entities with more resources. Preparing bids can be costly and time consuming and can take focus away from other day to day operations of the business.

Unfortunately, the problem is that many teaming agreements have been deemed unenforceable by California state courts. Because a teaming agreement is signed before a contract is awarded and whether it takes effect is dependent upon winning the contract, many courts have stated that teaming agreements are “an agreement to agree” in the future instead of a binding contract. This means that a subcontractor could take the time to prepare a bid and enter into an agreement with a primary contractor, and once the government contract is won by the primary contractor, it could decide to use a different subcontractor, leaving little legal recourse for the subcontractor.

A commercial landlord is confronted with a number of issues when a tenant files bankruptcy. When a tenant files bankruptcy with an unexpired lease, the debtor tenant is given the option to “assume” or “reject” the lease. If the debtor elects to assume the lease, it agrees to be bound by all terms of the lease and it must cure all defaults and provide the landlord with “adequate assurance of future performance” under the lease. If the debtor rejects the lease, the rejection constitutes a breach of the lease, giving the landlord claims for damages.

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Assumption or Rejection. The first question that a commercial landlord will want to know is whether the debtor will assume or reject the unexpired lease.

If the debtor assumes the lease it means that the debtor intends to remain at the property as a tenant (or possible that it plans to assign the lease to a third party). In order for a debtor to assume a lease, the debtor must either not be in default under the lease or it must cure all pre- and post-petition defaults; it must give the landlord “adequate assurance of future performance under the lease,” and it must obtain bankruptcy court approval to assume the lease.

Previously on this blog, we discussed two important matters relating to the formation of the Terms of Use on your business’s website: avoiding using boilerplate language in favor of terms tailored to your specific business and having a privacy policy regarding the collection of customer information. The following are two more important things to consider during the process of drafting and posting your website’s Terms of Use.

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Have Clear Sale Conditions

Many companies use their website to conduct online sales. No matter what your product is or the size of your operation, failing to have clear conditions of sales on your Terms of Use can result in disputes and even legal claims. The terms of a sale should be in clear language that the customer can read and agree to prior to making a purchase. Some terms to address in this part of your Terms of Use include the following:

Every time a contract is signed, the potential exists that one party fails to perform the obligations specified under the contract. In such cases, the aggrieved party may elect to file a lawsuit to try to seek performance under the contract or, more typically, for losses incurred as a result of the other party’s non-performance. However, in some cases, there may be a defense to the enforcement of the contract.  One such defense is undue influence.

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Undue influence is the unfair or improper persuasion of one person by another or excessive persuasion that causes another person to act or refrain from acting by overcoming that person’s free will resulting in inequity. A party’s apparent consent to a contract (or transaction) is not free or real when it is obtained through undue influence. In other words, a contract obtained though undue influence is voidable.  Consent is deemed to have been obtained through undue influence when the purported consent would have been refused if the acts constituting undue influence had not existed.

In California, there are four circumstances, prescribed by the civil code, in which undue influence occurs: