Category Archives: Legal Issues

Washington State Department of Commerce — Business & Worker Update

FEB. 10,  2021

The Business and Workers update is a weekly newsletter providing news and information to help businesses and workers navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The information is compiled by the state Economic Resiliency Team (ERT), part of the Joint Information Center.

What you should know about…

COVID-19 Response

The importance of testing

Vaccine may be in the spotlight right now, and while it’s a crucial tool to eventually help us overcome the pandemic, it’s not the only tool we should be using. We are still relying on things like wearing masks and getting tested to ensure our success in overcoming this pandemic, and we’ll need to keep doing so over the next few months.

Testing is a critical and essential part of the overall COVID-19 response. Identifying and isolating people who have COVID-19, and quarantining those exposed to the virus, are necessary to understanding, responding to, and stopping the spread of infection. Assuring equitable and widespread access to testing with rapid turnaround times for results remains a priority. For us to successfully stop the spread of the virus, it is critical for people to get tested when they have symptoms or when they have been exposed to someone suspected of having COVID-19.

Testing remains a priority. Please, encourage your family and friends to get tested if they’ve been exposed, or if they have symptoms. For more information about testing in Washington state see the state Department of Health’s (DOH) testing page, their updated statewide testing strategy and their testing location resources.

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Stuff Happens, Be Prepared

by Kelly Deis of SoundPoint Consulting

If you are a co-owner of a business, let’s hope that you have a buy-sell agreement in place.

Why, you ask? Well, “stuff” happens. The kind of “stuff” that triggers a buy-sell agreement generally falls into five categories, otherwise known as the four D’s and an R:

Death, Disability, Divorce, Disagreement and Retirement.

And when that “stuff” happens, something else also occurs: interests of you and your partner(s) diverge. Inevitably one (or more) owners will be buying – and one will be selling shares of the company.

The problem is that as of today, you do not know which side of the fence you will be on. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a plan in place that both parties understand, deem fair and equitable, and agree on – before either becomes the buyer or the seller?

Don’t think that “stuff” will happen to you or your partner(s)?  Read on and consider the risk if you happen to be wrong.

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Should I take on a business partner?

Are two heads always better than one?

When it comes to taking on a partner to start or grow a small business, there’s no right or wrong answer. 

Partners can complement each other’s management skills and bring benefits such as special expertise and client relationships. 

As with any relationship, there are trade-offs that must be carefully considered before deciding whether adding a partner is a wise move, and then you have to find the right person for the role.

If it sounds a bit like marriage, you’re not far off. Having the right partner can be a terrific advantage for a business. Making the partnership successful takes as much energy, effort, and positive feelings for one another as it does to make a marriage work.

There are several important things to consider before choosing a partner and entering into a business partnership. Continue reading

COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers

For the latest COVID-19 information and resources visit coronavirus.wa.gov.

On May 4th, 2020 Governor Inslee signed Proclamation 20-25.3 and outlined the “Safe Start” plan, a phased approach to re-open Washington’s economy. Under the plan, businesses and activities will re-open in phases with adequate social distancing measures & health standards in place. Businesses may also need to meet additional requirements developed specifically for their industry.

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Commercial Kitchen Basics

By Devra Gartenstein, SCORE Volunteer

For entrepreneurs interested in starting food businesses, the hurdle of finding a commercial kitchen can be one of the toughest barriers to entry. Not only is kitchen space hard to find, but the intricacies of regulations from different licensing agencies supervising different types of food production can feel confusing and even daunting. Continue reading

Starting a Nonprofit in Washington State

Starting a Nonprofit in WA State.jpgThe “Starting a Nonprofit” Toolkit invites you and your group to think about the difference you seek to make and the structure best suited to move forward. It leads you through key decision-making steps on whether a nonprofit is the best way for you to accomplish your goals. If you decide to move forward with a nonprofit, “Starting a Nonprofit” guides you through the key compliance and good-practice steps to take it towards becoming operational.

You may be feeling impatient to get started. Yet to be successful, it’s critical to pause, reflect, imagine, convene interested people in your community, and plan around important questions that will ultimately strengthen the organization’s ability to succeed.

This Toolkit represents a distillation of knowledge, experience, and research from nonprofit leaders, founders, and organizations that serve the nonprofit sector. “Starting a Nonprofit” brings you from idea to organization. It is the first stop on a journey that will lead you to many other resources. It is also a companion toolkit to resources on nonprofit boards, finance, law, and planning that are available in the Washington Nonprofit Handbook, at wanonprofitinstitute.org, and in 501 Commons resources. It is supported by in-person workshops, webinars, networks, and many other chances to learn more.

Basic Facts About Trademarks

From the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office

What Is a Trademark or Service Mark and How Do They Differ From Patents and Copyrights?

A trademark is a brand name. A trademark or service mark includes any word, name, symbol, device, or any combination, used or intended to be used to identify and distinguish the goods/services of one seller or provider from those of others, and to indicate the source of the goods/services.

This animated video explains how trademarks, patents, copyrights and also domain names and business names all differ. [run time: 8:38]

It is important to understand whether you should file for a trademark/service mark, a patent, and/or a copyright. While all are types of intellectual property, each protects something very specific. In addition to watching the video above, you can study how trademarks, patents, and copyrights differ to ensure you are making the proper filing decision at the outset of the filing process.

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4 Tips for Adding a Partner to Your Business

handshakeFinding and adding a business partner to an existing company is about more than going into business with a friend or family member. How you add a partner typically hinges on your business entity. Depending on how you incorporated your business, entrepreneurs will need to conduct a bit of due diligence in order to properly bring on a business partner.

From an LLC to a general partnership, let’s break down what you need to do now to prepare to add a partner to your business. Continue reading

Steps For Starting a Nonprofit Business

Starting a business with a cause offers much satisfaction as you work to make lives better for others. To launch a nonprofit corporation, it requires taking many of the same steps a for-profit corporation or LLC does, but there are differences, too. Nonprofits must comply with some requirements that don’t affect other businesses.  

So, where do you begin? 

1. Understand what it means to be a nonprofit.

A nonprofit may be created a nonprofit for charitable, educational or certain other purposes—as long as they don’t directly benefit the owner. Nonprofits (if approved by the federal government) operate tax-free, and they can accept donations and apply for grants.

While a nonprofit business can make profits, surpluses must be used toward fulfilling the organization’s objectives—such as buying computer software to run the business more efficiently or investing in resources that deliver value to those that it serves.  Continue reading

Considerations and Resources for Small Businesses That Want to Sell Their Products Internationally

According to the most recent International Trade Association data available through the Small Business Administration, small businesses represent 97.7 percent of the U.S. firms that export goods to other countries. In fact, they account for over one-third of the United States’ known export value.

With business technology ever evolving, expanding our collaboration and communication capabilities, we can assume that more small business owners will want to seize opportunities to extend their customer base beyond U.S borders. With 96 percent of global consumers living outside of the United States (according to the U.S. Department of State), reaching a global market can fuel revenue growth and offer some protection against fluctuations in the U.S. domestic markets. Continue reading