We make sure you’re in compliance with regulations on both state and federal level.
Atom Law Group routinely represents clients in their dealings with federal and government agencies, such as the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (“USCIS”), Customs and Border Patrol (“CBP”), the U.S. Department of Justice, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”), the US Department of Labor, state departments of professional services, state revenue services, and secretaries of state. Other regulatory agencies that our clients commonly deal with include the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and the Federal Trade Commission (“FTC”).
The commercial activities of many businesses are subject to government regulation on both the state and federal level. A few broad examples include tax matters, employment matters, attracting investment, trademark matters, and hiring foreign employees. Companies with specialized areas of practice, like medicine, dentistry, and psychotherapy, are more heavily regulated by state agencies. This means that routine compliance is necessary and audits are certainly possible. At times, a well-intentioned business can end up violating rules and regulations of various agencies without realizing that its activities are even subject to regulation. Or, perhaps, it may be aware that regulation exists, but unaware of the extent of the regulation. Failure to comply can lead to severe penalties later on that may come in the form of costly fines or even suspension of business activities.
To complicate matters further, the same business activity may be regulated by multiple government agencies; while a company may work to meet the standards of one, it may be unaware that it does not meet the standards of the other. For example, both the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Labor have rules distinguishing Independent Contractors from employees. However, their determinations are distinct from one another, and the conclusion of one agency is not binding on the other. So a business which may think it is in the clear for meeting the requirements of the IRS concerning independent contractors may not be in the clear in the eyes of the DOL.
Atom Law Group has helped clients both become aware of inadvertent violations and expeditiously bring them into compliance. We routinely advise clients who seek guidance on relevant regulations they are subject to, prior to engaging in planned activities. Furthermore, we routinely represents clients in disputes with government agencies when accused of either false reporting or failure to comply.
Common regulatory matters Atom Law Group represents clients in:
At times a company may need a specialized expert in an industry from overseas. For example, if a company uses or sells specialized technology purchased from a foreign country, an engineer who is well-versed with that technology may greatly benefit the company. In another example, a non-US company with a US subsidiary may decide it needs to send one of its key employees to the US for a number of years of head up a certain aspect of its operations because of the existing internal company know-how of that individual. In other instances, a foreign individual may be ready and willing to contribute significant capital to a US entity, becoming an owner as well as a key employee. A range of visas exist for such situations and the best option will need to be determined. Furthermore, the circumstances of the employment and investment will need to conform to fit the requirements of the selected visa.
A business may determine that outside investment is necessary or appropriate to facilitate growth or reduce debt. There may be third-parties who are interested in acquiring equity as well. However, businesses must be careful in selling equity to outsiders as this activity is regulated by both federal and state laws. Correspondence concerning the sale can be tantamount to solicitation which is regulated. Both those interested in buying in and the company itself must be vigilant about making the proper disclosures to avoid potential pitfalls that may easily arise without diligence.
Franchising is regulated both by federal and state government agencies. Therefore, a great deal of formalities must be observed and complied with in order to implement such a business model. Under the rules, a great deal of disclosures must be made to the potential franchisee. Failure to observe these regulations can lead to very serious monetary penalties and business problems in the future. When the required amount of care and diligence is shown, franchising may be an excellent way to increase the revenue and value of a business. Some businesses can drastically increase their revenue by changing their business model to offer franchising. If a business has a successful business model and a good brand, other businesses may see good value in paying for the rights to adopt that business model and brand as their own. The franchisor can continue to stay in the same line of business while charging others for the chance to use its own intellectual property. Not only does this provide for multiple other sources of revenue, but also allows the brand to grow in fame and value much quicker than it would without franchising
A relevant area of concern is that parties commonly enter into a business relationship without even being aware that their relationship is actually franchise, subject to all the relevant regulations – the “accidental franchise.” Actually, it takes very little to fall into this unplanned situation. This can make the accidental-franchisor the target of government investigation. At times, the accidental franchisee can use the lack of compliance to void the entire relationship and its own liability to the other party. Accidental franchising can be avoided in advance with careful planning and can be remedied with strategic diligence.
Of the most valuable assets of any business are its trademarks: its name, its logo, or even its trade dress: its product packaging, design, or interior decor. In some instances companies have asserted ownership over something as fundamental as a color in their industry. In order to maximize value and protection over this valuable assets trademarks should be registered with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. At times, during registration, the USPTO may issue an “office action” either denying the trademark or requiring additional documentation concerning the application. Both the application process as well as office actions require close attention and strategic planning. At times, applications can be faced with challenges from other companies urging the USPTO to reject the application. Other times, a third-party may file a complaint with the USPTO claiming that a previously registered trademark was obtained under false pretenses. These also require planned responses.