七个阻碍你成功创业的法律问题 (编者分析+汉英双语)

 编者前言:参加完湘商创业举办的创业活动,一直就想创业过程中的法律问题进行总结和分析,但由于这段时间太忙,没能付之实践,今天刚好看到一篇由律师转型创业的叫J.J. Colao的人写得文章觉得不错,特分享给大家:

 每当我和其他创业者讨论关于成功创业的关键因素时,我总能听到他们谈论诸如“勇气”、“坚持”、“顶尖团队”等词汇。这些因素确实对初创企业的飞黄腾达非常重要,但是人们往往忽略了那些看起来十分无聊的因素,比如处理好相关的法律事务这一点。
  从定义上就可以判断出来,企业家不是律师那种类型的人。我们更关心将来而不是专注于咬文嚼字。但作为为数不多的从律师转行创业的人之一,我觉得一个稳固的法律框架对刚成立的公司是十分重要的。恰当的法律策略虽然不会大幅提高企业的销售状况,但是却能帮助你摆脱一些很容易就可以避免的问题,以免为此付出高昂的代价。
  尽管大多数年轻创业者宁可去做牙根填充手术也不愿咨询律师,但在导致初创企业走入死胡同的诸多因素中,没有什么比比意外的诉讼案更具破坏性了,另外,还有令人不愉快的合同分歧,乃至一位友善竞争者窃取你的创意等情况。
  因此,在你说“这些问题不会在我身上发生”这句话之前,请看一下以下七种企业家经常犯但实际上很容易避免的法律错误。你只要花上一点点时间就能真正确保上述问题不会在你身上发生。
 1)选错公司形式:你可能会觉得很无聊。选择公司形式可能听起来很平常,但这确实是你早期所做的众多重要决策之一。你希望公司是C股份有限公司、S股份有限公司、有限责任公司还是有限合伙制公司,这完全取决于你的长期目标。尽管有限责任公司是最方便的短期方案,但是长远来看这种公司形式会阻碍公司的迅速扩大和筹集资本。不同的公司组织形式有自己的优势也会有相应的限制,如果很多年后才来变更公司形式,管理上就会非常的困难而且代价也很大。
  2)推迟制定投资者协议:是的,这非常的尴尬。但是如果你和你的合伙人都无法坐在一个房间里心平气和的谈论股权分置和收益,你们又怎么可能共同经营一家真的公司呢?很多问题投资者都没有认真考虑过,只因为一切都会“一帆风顺”。你们如何分置股权?每个人出多少钱、出多少力?谁来做首席执行官?如果碰到股东该撤资怎么办?当一件事情真正涉及钱和人员的时候,事情就不会“一帆风顺”了。一旦投资遭遇风险,误解就会让事情变得更糟。为了避免今后在律师费上花费更多,从一开始就应该严格地将收益和所有权搞清楚。
  3)使用了别人的商标:很多企业家会直接敲定商标而不去查一查别人是否已经早就使用过了。他们自顾自地设立网站、做文宣,直到有一天收到一封来自国外联合大企业的信说,“请停止使用我们的商标,并向我们赔偿100万美元损失。其实这种问题只要用Google粗略搜索一下就可以避免。
  4)没有保护好知识产权:很多好点子是通过产品和生产过程来体现的。对于这些好想法,应该去申请专利以保护。如果你没有保密协议或者申请专利就把一些想法告诉别人的话,你将会面临的风险是,这些想法很快就变成了你的竞争对手的想法。因此公司起步时要准确意识到你的核心知识产权,然后申请专利。
  5)不理解合同中的重要条款:如果一个第三方在你的经营中十分重要的话,一定要和他们签一个书面的合同,并且透彻的理解合同中的核心条款。在违反合同的诉讼案中,无知不能作为辩护的理由。
  6)不遵守法律:如果我向一些人借钱-不管是投资还是借贷-你都应该确保要遵守证券法的规定。你不一定需要证券登记,但是你可能需要备案以防例外。不恰当地提供资金可能会引来监管机构的罚款甚至无效交易。
  7)没有聘请一个专门负责公司成立初期法律事务的律师:很多律师都会为小公司提供服务,但是你得确保聘请一个擅长处理初创企业法律事务的律师,尤其是在处理精明的天使投资者和风险投资者的融资问题时。天使投资和风险投资这个市场很复杂,如果你聘请的律师对这个市场不够了解,你就很容易上当受骗。

  编者后记:以上七点中就有两点是知识产权方面的问题,其实创业中涉及到知识产权方面的还很多,有的人只了解商标专利,其实还有我们熟悉的域名、软件著作权、商业秘密等等。第三点中的商标问题是比较重要的,比较有影响的是苹果公司的IPAD商标之争,影响之大、标的之巨是令世人所惊叹的,但实际上涉及的法律问题却很简单。是自己申请商标,还是买商标,申请什么样的商标,申请多少商标,这些都得考虑。专利这块就更加了专业了,创业时,创业者的核心竞争力在哪里?你说是商业模式,你说要申请专利,保护自己的商业模式,对不起,在目前的中国,专利法还没有办法保护你的商业方法。你说是技术方案,这显然是可以申请专利的,但你的技术是不是已经被某些专利或者某些文献公开了?也可能就是你之前发表的一篇论文就导致了你的技术得不到专利法的保护。在创业活动中,创业者是技术出身的博士,就其研究的技术申请了很多专利,这说明很重视知识产权,那么不是做技术出身的,做市场运营的创业者,没有办法去发明产品或者技术,那怎么在知识产权这块有所作为呢?我们可以去买人家的专利,或者获得许可,然后将其技术转换为生产力。这次只分析知识产权方面,下次再分析其他方面,我们要树立把专业事情让给专业的人去做,这样才能使事情投入少,收益大,风险小。
【英文版本请往下翻】
编者:伏栋  律师 专利代理人  北京知识产权法律网 首席律师


      Seven Legal Hiccups That Can CrushYour Startup
  When I talk to fellow entrepreneurs about the key ingredients forstartup success, I hear a lot of folks say things like “courage”,“perseverance”, “a top-notch team” and so on. There’s no question thatthose qualities are key to giving young companies a fighting chance, but toooften I think that people overlook the boring stuff – like getting your legalhouse in order.
  Almost by definition, entrepreneurs aren’t lawyerly types. We’drather charge ahead with our vision than worry about the fine print. But asthat rare breed of lawyer-turned-entrepreneur, I appreciate the advantage thata strong legal framework lends a young company. Your legal strategy will nevercatapult your company to $1 billion in sales, but it will help you avoidtripping over some costly, easily preventable mistakes.
  Though most young entrepreneurs would rather have a root canalthan consult an attorney, nothing will put you on the path to startup disasterquite like an unexpected lawsuit, nasty contract dispute, or even a friendlycompetitor stealing your idea.
  So before you say “that won’t happen to me,” here are seven easilyavoidable legal mistakes I see entrepreneurs make all the time. With a littledue diligence, you can make sure that they don’t happen to you.
  1.) Choosing the Wrong Corporate Entity: Boring, you say?  While this may sound mundane, it’s actually one of themore important early decisions you’ll make. Whether you want to run yourbusiness as a C Corp, S Corp, LLC, or LP is wholly dependent on your long-termobjectives.  Though an LLC, for example, is often the most convenientshort-term option, in the long-run this structure will hamper your ability togrow quickly and raise capital. Different legal entities offer differentopportunities and restrictions, and changing your structure years later isadministratively painful and expensive.
  2.) Putting Off a Founders’Agreement: Yes, it’s awkward. But if you and yourcofounders can’t sit in a room and calmly discuss equity splits and incentives,how do you think you’ll ever run a real company? There are so many questionsthat founders never think through because everything is going to be “awesome.”How do you split the equity pie?  Who contributes what?  Who acts asCEO?  What if a founder stops performing?  When cash and humans areinvolved things are seldom uniformly “awesome” and misunderstandings make formessy situations once real money is at stake. Save yourself a truckload oflawyers’ fees down the line by clearly and firmly working out incentives andownership at the beginning.
  3.) Using Someone Else’s Trade Name: Many entrepreneurs will lock on a company name without researching whethersomeone else already owns that name. They will put up a website, printtheir advertising collateral, and then one day they’ll get a letter from someforeign conglomerate that says, “Quit using our name and pay us one milliondollars in damages.” Even a cursoryGoogle searchcan go a long way here.
  4.) Failing to Protect Intellectual Property: Most great ideas are supported by a product or process that should bepatented.  If you are telling people your idea without an NDA or a patentapplication on file, you run the risk that your great idea will soon be yourcompetitor’s great idea.  Identify your core pieces of intellectualproperty and patent them.
  5.) Not Understanding Key Contracts: If a third-party is important to a core part of your business, you need awritten contract with that third-party and you need to understand the coreterms of the contract.  In a breach-of-contract lawsuit, ignorance is nota defense.
  6.) Failing to Comply with Federal or State Securities Laws: If I ask even a couple of people for money – whether it is an investment or aloan – you must make sure to observe the various securities laws.  Whileyou may not need to “register” your securities, you may need to file for an“exemption.”  An improper offering can lead to regulatory fines and, maybeeven worse, unwinding of a transaction.
  7.) Not Hiring a Startup Lawyer: Thereare a lot of lawyers that represent small businesses, but make sure you hire an attorney whospecializes in representing startups – particularly in matters dealing withfund-raising from sophisticated angels and venture capitalists.  There isa “market” around angel and VC funding, and if your lawyer is not immersed inthat market you can easily get fleeced.


文章分类: 创业公司
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