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A Couple of Thoughts about Patents and NDA’s

At SCORE I meet a lot of clients who want help filing a patent application or drafting an NDA (Non-disclosure Agreement).  There’s a lot of fear out there about someone stealing a patentable idea.  And with good reason.  If you build a better mousetrap, odds are that somebody, somewhere (not naming any names here . . . (China)) will copy and sell it at a fraction of your price.  So, how do you protect yourself?  Applying for a patent and handing out Non-disclosure Agreements is one way, and I’m not knocking it (or trying to put my patent lawyer friends out of business).  But remember:  a patent is only as good as your willingness to sue to protect it.  And such suits can be very, very time consuming and expensive. Read more

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How to Start a Business: A Checklist

Ok, so you’re ready to start-up your business — either online, home based, or (the old-fashioned way) in a brick-and-mortar building.  What do you need to do to make sure you’re operating legally?  Here is a checklist of some essential first steps:

√  Get a Business License

Contact your local government to find out what sort of license is required for the type of business you plan to open.  Most cities and counties now have websites where you can download the application forms, as well as get further information.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that just because you have a home business you don’t need a license — most cities will require one and can impose penalties if you fail to get a license or you wait until after you’ve already been doing business for a while.  Some local governments even have arrangements with state tax authorities to check returns for home-based business income generated by unlicensed businesses.

Also, check to make sure your business complies with local zoning requirements, especially if you are operating from your home.  Finally, make sure you have the permits necessary for your particular type of business operation (e.g., food preparation, liquor sales, daycare, etc.).  Again, you can get this information from your city or county website, or by contacting your local government office or town hall. Read more