Ask Entrepreneur - Legal Basics For Startups

What should I do if my business name is similar to another business?

Is the name Northshore Computer Tutor LLC different enough from The Computer Tutor Inc. to prevent legal trouble, or trouble registering with the state? I am operating north of Boston, the other registered company is also in Massachusetts, south of Boston.
Nina Kaufman

How can I ensure a general contractor pays me?

I recently started my own cleaning company and was subcontracting for another company. We decided not to work with them anymore. We didn't have any written contract with them, but we still have invoices and checks--they owe us $9,400 dollars and are now avoiding us. What can I do to get the money that is owed? Is small claims court the answer?
Nina Kaufman

How do I ensure my invention idea is safe with the company I submitted it to?

How can I know or find out if their procedures are legit. The agent for the company says that he feels that my invention was unique. It will be something that is going to help the health world.
Nina Kaufman

Legally, what do I need to consider for a seasonal business?

What is required if I want to rent out my houseboat for a few weeks out of the year? I'm wondering if I have to turn in taxes on money I will make from renting out my houseboat. Also, what kind of insurance will I have to get, and do I have to have a business license for such a small operation?
Nina Kaufman

What should I do to protect my online advice column?

I am starting an online advice column, how do to I legally protect myself?
Nina Kaufman

What rights does the founder of a non-profit have if he leaves the organization?

When at odds with the board of directors and feeling stressed and harassed, after running a very successful operation, the founder and executive director resigned. Does the founder have any right to be recognized as the founder of the organization while the business continues?
Nina Kaufman

Do I need a state and city business license for a web-based company?

I am the co-founder of an online food directory based in Las Vegas, Nev. We have already obtained a Nevada State Business License and I am unsure whether or not we need to get a city license as well.
Nina Kaufman

I got laid off from my full time job, can I collect unemployment if I have income from a small business?

I was working as a civil engineer and was laid off last week. I filed for unemployment and the benefits will start soon. I also have a small construction estimating business incorporated as an LLC. If I make money through my LLC can I still draw unemployment from my former employer until I find another job?
Nina Kaufman

How do we setup a royalty agreement with a vendor?

I am a broker and I came across an inventor, currently selling her product online and at trade shows but is still relatively small. I have made some connects with CEO's and TV producers, I have initially asked for a $0.99/unit sold royalty fee. If she sees a huge spike in business due to my efforts, I want to make sure I am compensated correctly.
Nina Kaufman

How do I handle an employee who retaliated for a change in pay practice?

I am a business operating room manager and our hospital was just acquired by another company. I have a long standing conflict with a certain employee who has always been out to get my job. The employee has gone to HR and made a serious false allegation that I violated HIPPA when this employee went to ER for chest pain. My director and OR manager investigated this allegation and it was found to be unsubstantiated.
Elinor Robin

Should the board of directors of a non-profit keep detailed executive minutes?

I understand you do not let executive session minutes into anyone but the board of directors' hands. We pass these minutes out in executive session and they are then collected and given back to our attorney who is chairman of the board. One copy is then kept under our attorney's lock and key. Our board wants to know what is best practices.
Nina Kaufman

Do I need business liability insurance or can I have people sign a liability disclaimer?

I wanted to start an automotive maintenance course to teach people how to change a flat tire, do their own oil change, etc. However, I am concerned that I could be held liable for any mishaps. If I do need this, I am having trouble finding someone who will cover an automotive educational course.
Nina Kaufman

What do I do if my business name is already taken?

I tried registering my business name with the Secretary of State and they notified me that the business name is already taken. I am wondering if and how I can go about requesting the other company to release that name.
Nina Kaufman

How can I get a company with the same name as mine to halt operations?

I have a business in Ohio and it has recently come to my attention that there is a business operating under the same name but has not officially registered the name. I would like this company to seize and desist operation under my registered business name or I am willing to sell the business and name to that company. However I have not trademarked the name. My goal is simply to understand any legal considerations in requiring this other business to halt operating under the name or if I choose to sell, do I need to trademark the name as well?
Nina Kaufman