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Free Help With Developing Your Business @ Small Business Development Center

This past week I had a chance to learn about the South San Diego Small Business Development Center from one of their business advisors. As an attorney practicing in business law, I assist a number of clients with legal matters or legal disputes concerning their business. But often small business entrepreneurs need assistance with non-legal matters and do not know where to turn to. I recommend learning more about the Small Business Development Centers of San Diego. They offer assistance for FREE in the following topics:

  • Accounting / Quickbooks
  • Marketing / Public Relations
  • Business Plan Assistance
  • Growth & Expansion Strategies
  • Sales & Customer Service
  • Financial Analysis / Cash Flow Management
  • Business Structure / Formation
  • Merchandising
  • E-commerce & Online Sales

Learn more on the SBDC website.

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Selling Arts & Crafts Depicting Famous Faces & Characters. Can You Do It?

With Comic-Con International 2016 right around the corner (July 20-24 including preview night) in San Diego, I am sharing a question that comes up quite often in my practice in Business and Intellectual Property Law. The question, often involving famous comic characters and celebrities, goes something like this –

Q: I created an art piece for my grandson that contains a famous cartoon character on it. Can I sell these to others since I made them? I am interested in selling them online in marketplaces like eBay and Etsy for profit.

The question also involves artwork and crafts including celebrities, sports athletes, and other famous characters. Without knowing it, the asking party just asked a very complicated question as this simple inquiry triggers various area of the law including:

  • copyright law
  • business law
  • first amendment rights (under certain circumstances)
  • privacy laws (under certain circumstances)
  • publicity rights (under certain circumstances)
  • cyberspace laws
  • and more

This simple question requires plenty of legal analysis to fully provide an answer and a recommendation. However, for the sake of brevity, it is generally unlawful to use the image of a famous cartoon character to generate your own products for commercial sale. But let’s consider things further.

Let’s assume that the drawing is such a success with your grandson that you decide you’re going to use it for use with your online store in a well-known marketplace and will also use it for marketing purposes for your business. Upon using the image for commercial purposes, you’re exposing yourself to liability for unlawfully using a person’s liking or a person’s copyrighted work without permission. If you make 1 single sale in a private setting, you open yourself for exposure. However, from a practical perspective, it’s very unlikely that the Marvel brand or large company will pursue a claim. On the other hand, if you wind up being the next big thing on the market thanks to the you should expect a lawsuit for damages. Other things to consider are how you’re using the work, whether you transformed the image in any way, and many other factors.

If you have a similar question like the one above you should speak with an intellectual property attorney before proceeding to fully analyze your question and determine whether to move forward with your plans. Factors analyzed include:

  • what image are you using?
  • is the work protected y copyright registration?
  • did you ask for permission from the creator?
  • if the work involves a person, does the person know about your use?
  • where did you get your image from?
  • did you copy the image or transform it in any way?
  • what are you using it for?
  • are you engaging in private sales or commercial sales?
  • other questions depending upon your circumstances

Note that this type of question is complex and requires serious factual analysis.

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Celebrate Mother’s Day With the Kids (Sunday, May 8th) & Then Set Time Aside Time to Make Arrangements for the Children

As families prepare to celebrate Mom this Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 8th, children and significant others prepare to make this 1 day extra special for her. This day usually showers Mom with flowers, a dining experience, gifts and other memorable moments for the whole family to remember. The point of this day is for Mom’s to feel extra special, but Mom’s can also take this day as a reminder of things to arrange for their family’s future.

Regardless of whether you have been a Mom for 1 year or 21 years, you and your children will feel even more love between yourselves when you let them know that you have planned for their future with estate planning arrangements. Estate planning arrangements offer answers to the following questions:

  1. Who will care for the kids in Mom’s long term absence or death?
  2. Will the kids be left under the parental guidance of their natural father upon Mom’s death?
  3. Are there any savings accounts reserved for supporting the kids upon Mom’s hospitalization, incapacity or death?
  4. Are there any life insurance policies Mom set up?
  5. Who will handle the children’s financial, healthcare and educational future if Mom cannot do it?
  6. If Mom passes away, what items (including houses) do the children split and when?
  7. If Mom owns a business and suffers an accident, who carries on the business?

Estate planning answers many other questions that are dependent upon the family structure. This is even more important where there are circumstances involving adopted children, step children, blended families, disputes among family members and so on.

Therefore, enjoy Mother’s Day this coming Sunday. Hug your children like never before on this day and then focus on how you can show them your love even more through estate planning.  Calendar a reminder to yourself as a Mom to plan for your children’s future through Wills, Trusts, Financial Planning and other methods.

 

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5 Great Ways to Find the Best Business Attorneys in San Diego

When your San Diego-based business faces legal matters, finding immediate legal representation can become a daunting task. There are so many attorneys out there advertising both offline and online claiming experience in business law or business disputes. So how do you find qualified and experienced business attorneys in San Diego? Here are a few pointers to consider when you are searching for the best business attorneys in San Diego to take on your legal matter.

  1. Request Recommendations from Your Friends and Family – start off by inquiring within your network. Ask your friends and family members for recommendations. You’ll learn about how others have used a business attorney in the past and what to expect in involving a business attorney.  Friends and family will look out for you and will recommend only those that provide quality service.
  2. Read Available Reviews – After receiving recommendations, search their online profiles. Read available reviews to learn how other non-family members have been helped by these particular attorneys. Use local San Diego resources such as community-based sites or your local Chamber of Commerce, and national resources such as Avvo.com, Justia.com, Yelp.com, FindLaw.com. You can also simply perform a Google search for the attorney’s name to learn more about that person and/or law firm.
  3. Industry Recommendations – Use available resources such as the San Diego County Bar or the State Bar of California to learn more about your potential attorney. Search online and call around with inquiries as well.  Again, sites like Avvo.com (a legal database of attorney) will help shed more light on your search.  Here’s an example of an attorney’s profile on Avvo.com
  4. Referral Requests from Trusted Parties – Use trusted professionals to seek out recommendations.  For example, if you have worked with a Realtor in the past, that Realtor is typically part of a group of professionals and just may know a great attorney to refer you to. It also gives you a great opportunity to follow up with your group of trusted professionals.
  5. Consultations – When seeking legal consultations, attorneys in San Diego often offer free consultations depending on your particular legal problem and need. Take advantage of those free consultations and request more than 1, especially if you really want to obtain a second opinion.  In attending at least 2 consultations, you just may find that 1 attorney fully understands you or is simply a better fit for you than the other.

These recommendations are based on an accumulation of feedback from clients over time. Most expressed that taking their time to find a quality attorney is more cost-effective in the long-run than simply electing the first search result using an online search engine. I hope this helps you locate the best business attorneys in San Diego.  Feel free to reach out to this office to request a consultation after reviewing our client feedback.

Your business is important. Be sure to take the time to locate the representation that’s right for you, your team and the business.

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Points to consider before and after registering a business name or domain name

When a person or set persons start a new business venture, it is an exciting time when you just want to get to work already. I call this the “honeymoon stage” of business. Everyone is collaborating well, ideas are flowing smoothly and depending on your personality, you either start the work immediately because you are motivated and eager, or you take a step back to analyze and consider what needs to get done first.  It is all a happy period of time where you can’t wait to move forward and grow. No one likes to consider the bad stuff that may come about later such as legal problems. Be wise, be that person that does consider such issues to prevent them.

If you have not yet started your business, take a peek at the following recommended points to brainstorm and consider before and after choosing a business name and registering a domain name. If you have started your business and are already growing it, take a moment and review some points that still require your consideration.  These points usually stir up legal problems between businesses at some point in their life cycles if not considered properly.

1. Business Plan. Business plans are roadmaps for a successful business. It generally outlines the route a company needs to take to grow its revenues and profits. If you have time, develop a business plan – even if it is simple – so that you have a living document to refer to.  As you carry on your business, the plans may change, but that is somewhat expected. These are helpful to keep you grounded and focused on your goals. It also serves as a great tool to measure performance per quarter or year.

2. Business Entity.  Consider whether you are going to operate as a sole proprietor or a corporation/LLC. Each one of these options offers different liability shelters and tax benefits that are worth exploring.  Besides performing general online searches about these topics, you best help yourself by seeking a consultation with a business attorney to really help you understand how each option would fit you. Sole proprietorship, corporations, and limited liability companies (LLC’s) are used for different business needs. Analyze your immediate and long-term needs under each business type.  Business entity planning is of even greater importance when dealing with 2 or more business partners. More often then not, partnership issues develop – even with family-owned businesses – where improper planning and document preparation was not in place. Review Buy-Sell Agreements, Shareholder Agreements, and other similar options available to adequately establish your 2+ person business relationships.

3. Business Names. Business names are fun to develop. A business can be named just about whatever it is you want and can be as creative or simple as you desire. However, note that you do not find two companies called “Coca-Cola” or “Pepsi Cola” for a reason. Trademark protections, copyright protections, domain name protections, and state laws exist to limit what you can name our business. As a basic example, if you want to be the next big App developer, you know your space is in the computer and information technology field. You won’t want to use a business name and slogan that is already in commercial use in that same technology field because if you do, it will be a matter of a trademark infringement lawsuit coming your way. Therefore, when doing something as simple as selecting a business name, be sure to perform your due diligence and determine whether anyone else is using that same name at a City, County, State, and Federal level.  Also determine whether they’re using the exact or similar name in your industry.

4. Domain Name Registrations. Before registering for a domain name, perform your due diligence in this step as well by looking for other domains and businesses (both domestically and internationally) already registered. Under business laws, trademark laws, and copyright laws, certain domain names may infringe on an existing business’s rights the minute the domain name becomes registered.  Avoid a trademark infringement claim when choosing a domain name. As a simplified explanation of the standard, if the new domain name causes confusion to the public between the new domain and an existing domain, it is likely an infringing domain. To avoid infringement issues, search the United States Patent & Trademark Office’s website for registered marks, potentially conflicting marks and marks which can cause general confusion.

5. Online Presence. Nowadays, a website acts like an interactive business card. A business website permits the business owner to share information about the business with the world. However, a business owner ought to be cautious with what they publish online and how. To continue with our previous example, if you are the next big App developer developing a gaming app to be marketed towards the public of ages 13+, be aware that there are state and federal laws that require businesses to disclose certain information. For example, a majority of the websites online (especially those for commercial purposes) publish a Privacy Policy, Terms of Service and Statement of Use. Each one is carefully drafted to include the necessary disclosures required of their industry. If you operate a business website and have reason to believe it is used and viewed by minors, you should know about certain regulations applicable to this group such as COPPA, or the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. There are a great number of other online regulations that exist. Your use and requirements to address these regulations all depend upon your industry, target market, business practices, state of business formation, and other variables.  Lack of knowledge about these regulations is not an excuse.

6. Online Agreements. Do you know the difference between “browser wrap” and “click wrap?” These are two ways in which an online website visitor agrees to an agreement on your website.

7. Monitoring and Enforcement. Once you register your business name and/or trademark name you then have to monitor for infringement. Unless you enforce your rights to your business name and domain, you may wind up diluting the value of your business and losing your rights.

The above summarizes some points to review before and after moving forward with a new business. However, there are many other points to consider both during and after these stages. A lot of points are purely based on the type of business you plan. Business attorneys experienced in helping sole proprietors and business partners in different industries can be beneficial to you. Consider a consultation for representation with these initial matters. Business attorneys can also help you in the long run with various business transactions. See more and request a consultation.

 

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See you at “Business Law Day” hosted by the San Diego Public Library

The San Diego Public Library is offering a “Business Law Day” on Tuesday, November 10, 2015 from 2:30pm-6:30pm.  At this special event, attorneys will be present to offer advice to prospective and current business owners in the areas of business law such as patents and intellectual property.

Speak one-on-one with an attorney in a 15-20 minute free consultation session. Attorney Ruth Ryan-Cruz has volunteered her time for this event and plans to offer advice at this event.

If you’re thinking about opening up a business  in San Diego County or perhaps you are in the process of doing so, we welcome you to attend this free event. This invitation is also extended to current business owners regardless of which stage your business is in. This event is open to the general public.

Event Information:
Date: Tuesday, November 10, 2015
Time: 2:30pm-6:30pm
Address: Central Library / Special Events – 9th Floor 330 Park Blvd., San Diego, CA 92101
More information: SDPL & Other events

Share this information with your friends and family. They may need a free 15-20 minute consultation about their business plans.

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Do I Need a Business Lawyer? Review how business attorneys act as legal counselors

I recently spoke with a gentlemen who is thinking about working for himself by opening up a local shop in the Hillcrest or North Park community. He was excited to share that he had just started formulating a plan on how and when to launch a discount shop and the resources required to do so. Little did he know he was talking to a business attorney until we got to talking more about his plan in depth and I mentioned, “I can help you with that.” As we continued the conversation, his face lit up with excitement in learning that he could turn to a business attorney to ask general counseling questions concerning his business.  Now he had a potential resources to turn to when it came time to move forward with his business. At the end of the conversation, he mentioned, “I had no idea a lawyer can help me with that. I usually think of lawyers when lawsuits are involved.”

With that in mind, I thought I’d share how a business attorney often acts as business legal counselor.  As a business attorney, I can help a new business in the following areas:

  • Incorporating a company: If you’re exploring starting up your own business, we can analyze your general circumstances and plans to determine how to best start and manage your business.  Risk, persons involved, financing arrangements along with other factors will determine which business entity is best for you.
  • Negotiating and drafting partnership agreements: If you’re considering opening a business with a family member, friend, or colleague, you’ll be interested in retaining a solid relationship should the business go south or experience hiccups along the way. Partnership agreements are crafted for you and your partners circumstances and sets you up for success from the start.
  • Negotiating a buy-sell agreement or shareholder agreement: If your business includes 2 or more owners, explore a buy-sell agreement. A buy-sell agreement outlines what happens to the business in the event 1 business owner declares bankruptcy, loses their job with the company, undergoes a divorce, dies or retires. Other circumstances are detailed and having one from the start is of great importance.
  • Advising shareholders: Majority shareholders and minority shareholders will each have different rights and interests in how a business operates. Know what your rights as an owner is in your business.
  • Advising executive officers and board members: Often I learn that persons take on business titles and do not know what their obligations are. Business is carried on as usual until a member becomes entangled in a business problem that develops into a legal problem. Avoid this early on by learning your obligations.
  • Facilitating the sale of an interest in a business: If you’re an existing business and you want to bring on a new owner (either shareholder or LLC member) or remove an owner, the business must perform some due diligence and prepare documents before adding/removing the new owner.  Simply buying them out may not do. Corresponding documentation is necessary.
  • Preparing meeting minutes: Shareholders and Board Members are required to keep business meeting minutes. Knowing what to include, who signs and who receives copies is important.  Most importantly, some points and not others are includes in these minutes. Learn what to include.

As a business legal counselor I have had the pleasure and honor to work with several local businesses in the San Diego area and its neighboring communities including Downtown, Mission Valley including locations in Oceanside and San Marcos.  Businesses include product-based and service-based startups, small business and medium-sized organizations. If you’re in need of assistance with resolving problems concerning your business, contact me.  Together we can analyze how to resolve your matters. Telephone and in-office consultations are available.

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News Release: Law firm Ryan-Cruz Law, APC opens in San Diego, CA. Ryan-Cruz Law, APC practices in the areas of business law, real estate, estate planning and IP.

San Diego native and attorney Ruth Ryan-Cruz, Esq. established and launched Ryan-Cruz Law, APC with its principal office in Mission Valley, California (3111 Camino Del Rio North, Suite 400). Ruth Ryan-Cruz attended San Diego State University and CSU San Marcos for undergraduate education. She attended California Western School of Law for graduate education and now serves on the CWSL Alumni Board of Directors executive board.

Ryan-Cruz Law, APC’s mission: To provide quality legal services and make a measurable difference in the lives of the community members served. The firm was founded in June, 2015 by Ruth Ryan-Cruz, Esq., formerly an associate attorney at a boutique law firm in downtown San Diego with deep experience in various transactional and litigation matters. With experience in legal transactions, negotiations and successful dispute resolution, Ryan-Cruz Law aims to vigorously represent, prosecute on behalf of, and defend its clients. A favorite firm quote reads, “All people are equal before the law. A good attorney is what makes a difference.” With this in mind, the firm aims to practice this concept by providing legal services as a true attorney and counselor at law. In representing a client’s interests, Ryan-Cruz Law, APC intends to keep the client’s priorities and needs at the forefront. With ongoing communication, well-researched points, creative legal strategies, custom-tailored solutions and touches of human element, representation at Ryan-Cruz Law, APC focuses first and foremost on clients as people.

Client review excerpt: “Excellent, friendly, and helpful!! Ruth was fantastic to work with, very knowledgeable about my inquiries, and was on the ball with keeping me in the loop. Couldn’t have asked for more, she’s really the best!!” By Barrie K. (Business and Intellectual Property).

“This multi-service law firm is committed to meeting the needs of its clients by providing a tailored approach for each individual. With basic principles such as empathy, attention and respect, the firm carries on practical, efficient and solutions-oriented representation tailored to the client,” remarks Ruth Ryan-Cruz, Esq., founder of Ryan-Cruz Law, APC.

Ryan-Cruz Law also acts as outside general counsel to several businesses and corporations in the San Diego community with local, national and international business dealings. Ryan-Cruz Law is sought out by clients because of its legal acumen and strong business sense. As a result, they have become trusted members of their clients’ business teams and families.

Attorney Ruth Ryan-Cruz has been nominated and honored by various organizations including an “Excellent” rating from Avvo, San Diego Magazine and KBNT Univision San Diego’s “Latino’s Making a Difference” and San Diego Daily Transcript’s “Young Attorneys.” Her articles have been published in publications including WealthCounsel, the San Diego County Bar Association’s San Diego Lawyer magazine, and San Diego Attorney Journal.

Ryan-Cruz Law, APC is a law firm in San Diego, California. Ryan-Cruz Law practices in the areas of business law, real estate, estate planning and intellectual property. For more information visit Ryan-Cruz Law’s website at http://www.ryancruzlaw.com. To learn more about attorney Ruth Ryan-Cruz, visit her profile at http://www.ryancruzlaw.com/attorney-ruth-ryan-cruz/

Request a free consultation:
Ruth Ryan-Cruz, Esq.
RYAN-CRUZ LAW, APC
3111 Camino Del Rio North, Suite 400
San Diego, CA 92108
(619) 528-2202
ruth@ryancruzlaw.com
http://www.ryancruzlaw.com

Follow and interact with the firm:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RyanCruzLaw
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RuthRyanCruz/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ryan-cruz-law-apc
Justia: https://lawyers.justia.com/lawyer/ruth-ryan-cruz-1494032
Avvo: http://www.avvo.com/attorneys/92108-ca-ruth-ryancruz-4139699.html

Source: PRWeb

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Do you use email in your business? The CAN-SPAM Act establishes requirements for commercial messages. Applicable penalties of $16K

Do you use email in your business? The CAN-SPAM Act, a law that sets the rules for commercial email, establishes requirements for commercial messages, gives recipients the right to have you stop emailing them, and spells out tough penalties for violations.  Read up about complying with the CAN-SPAM Act. The policies may appear simple, but violations happen frequently.

Despite its name, the CAN-SPAM Act doesn’t apply just to bulk email. It covers all commercial messages, which the law defines as “any electronic mail message the primary purpose of which is the commercial advertisement or promotion of a commercial product or service,” including email that promotes content on commercial websites. The law makes no exception for business-to-business email. That means all email – for example, a message to former customers announcing a new product line – must comply with the law.

Each separate email in violation of the CAN-SPAM Act is subject to penalties of up to $16,000, so non-compliance can be costly. But following the law isn’t complicated. Here’s a rundown of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

  1. Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.
  2. Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
  3. Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
  4. Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.
  5. Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.
  6. Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.
  7. Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

See more information about online advertising and marketing via the Federal Trade Commission site.

Download information about this topic via PDF.