14 Types of Contracts Your Startup Needs

No startup is an island. To succeed you’re going to have to form relationships with lots of other people and businesses:  co-founders, investors, employees, vendors, customers, etc. To reduce risk and uncertainty, many of those relationships should be formalized with contracts. Here’s a short guide to the types of contracts your startup needs during the different business stages.

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Can a Pretzel Sandwich be a Trade Secret? – Part 2

In the previous installment, we talked about how Sweet Street Desserts and Better Bakery worked together to create a pretzel sandwich, sharing information under an NDA.

Unfortunately, the parties had a falling-out. Sweet Street claimed Better Bakery had a secret scheme to steal the design and product development qualities of Sweet Street’s pretzel sandwich. Better Bakery denied the “secret scheme,” but it did start selling pretzel sandwiches to third parties.

Sweet Street sued for breach of the NDA.

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Can a Pretzel Sandwich be a Trade Secret? – Part 1

Entrepreneurs often ask their lawyers for “bullet-proof” non-disclosure agreements (NDAs) that will prevent their business associates from stealing their great ideas.

The problem is, no such thing exists.

We discussed in this previous blog how an NDA won’t necessarily protect your ideas. The best way to protect an idea is to jump through the legal hoops that turn an idea into intellectual property– as we discuss in this blog.

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Making Money from Your Great Ideas – Part 3

This is part three of our three-part blog on making money from your great ideas.

In parts one and two we talked about the different ways of protecting ideas, with a focus on patents.

In this blog, we’ll be talking about how to turn intellectual property into cash.

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Making Money from Your Great Ideas – Part 2

This is part two of our three-part blog on making money from your great ideas.

As you might gather from the discussion in part 1, a patent is the form of IP that comes closest to protecting “ideas.”

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Making Money from Your Great Ideas – Part 1

*Note: this is part one of a three part blog. Check back or follow us for the next two parts.

“How can I make money from this great idea I have for a business/product/service/movie?”

People often post questions like that on Q&A boards such as Quora.

Unfortunately, there isn’t really much of a market for “bare” ideas – especially since they’re as common as dirt.

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Most Ridiculous Clauses in Your Contract

Signing a contract is serious business. Every word is important and a contract should not be signed without reading and understanding it. Contract clauses can bite!

If the contract presented to you contains a ridiculous clause and you sign it, you will be bound to it (no matter how ridiculous the clause is)!

We thought we’d share some examples of ridiculous clauses from actual contracts, hoping you’ll be careful about what you sign!

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Could Your Old Boss Own Your New Startup?

A Silicon Valley Horror Story

It’s a common dream: to leave the large high-tech company you work for and bring your brilliant startup idea to life. But what if your employment contract puts your new venture at risk?

In honor of Labor Day, we’re going to explore a clause in many employment agreements that might be problematic later on.

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Bedbugs and Broomsticks: Are These Clauses in Your Apartment Lease?

“When I was a kid my parents moved a lot, but I always found them.”
― Rodney Dangerfield

It’s August – a time when many people move into new apartments so they’ll be settled in before the new school (or college) year starts.

Most people HATE moving – especially in the summer. What could be worse than hauling a sofa up three flights of stairs in the SWELTERING HEAT?

Landlords from Hell

Whatever time of year a move happens, there’s also the stress of signing a new lease.

Most leases are pretty standard, and some people will (unwisely) sign them without even reading them – let alone understanding them.

BAD IDEA.

Even though your landlord seems friendly now, he or she could still turn out to be the landlord from hell.

Both common and uncommon lease clauses can cause major problems down the road, if you don’t realize what you’re agreeing to.

Here are some lease clauses you should look out for.

Bedbugs

Does your apartment lease have a “bedbug rider”?

No, that’s not a microscopic guy with an itty-bitty lasso who rounds up your bedroom vermin. It’s a clause that covers who’s responsible if your place is infested with the nasty little creatures.

If bedbugs are common in your area and your lease doesn’t have such a rider, you might want to add one.

Recently the New York Times received the following inquiry:

My wife and I recently signed a one-year lease for an apartment. It included a rider stating that all apartments in our building had been bedbug-free for at least one year before our move-in date. After we moved in, we learned from the superintendent that an apartment in our building had been infested by bedbugs and treated a few weeks before our move-in date. …

As we understand it, the landlord is responsible for the costs of fumigating. Who is responsible for other expenses, like replacing mattresses and furniture?

The answer, according to the Times, is that (at least in New York City):

Under normal circumstances, a landlord is required to treat the infestation and a tenant is responsible for cleaning personal belongings.

Good to know, right?

Broomsticks

Can a landlord evict someone for being a slob?

Maybe not an ordinary, dishes in the sink, pizza boxes on the coffee table, overflowing cat box-type slob, but a serious Hoarders-grade slob?

According to Landlordology,

Generally speaking, Landlords cannot dictate the cleaning behavior of a tenant unless they have reason to believe the tenant is violating health or fire codes, or causing damage to themselves, the property, or other people.  With that said, if your lease states that the tenant must hire a monthly maid service, then that is a contractual expense which should hold up in court.

So the answer is, it depends on just how grody your place is, and what your lease requires.

Lease Leverage

To learn about more lease clauses that can cause you problems, please check out our earlier blog, here.

When you’re negotiating a lease, you’ll have a lot more leverage if you know what’s standard and what’s not – and what additional clauses could protect you. When you’re potentially dealing with the landlord from hell, you want to come armed with knowledge.

LawGeex makes that easy — you can upload your lease and have it compared to thousands of others to see how yours stacks up.

Click here to learn how it works, or click the link on the right to upload your lease and get fast feedback… before the bed bugs bite.

The information and materials in this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice.

Can Your Lease Save Your Business from Getting Derailed?

This week, Tel Aviv started construction of the city’s first light rail. The long-delayed $4.23 billion project is slated for completion in 2021 and is expected to cause years of gridlock within the city and for miles around.

Some roads have been closed, some have been turned into one-way streets, and some have been closed to private vehicles. Nine-foot-high temporary walls will be set up about five feet from the entrances of many businesses, blocking them from view.

Fearing the Worst

The Jerusalem Post reported that Tel Aviv business are fearing the worst.

Our office is right in the middle of it, but being an online business we’re not as affected. The shops around us, our neighbors, who depend on foot traffic for survival, will be the ones most hit. We’ve been around to visit them and they really do fear the worst. Their livelihoods are on the line.

StorefrontThe 56-year-old owner of a hole-in-the-wall electronics store just around the corner from us even hung a noose by the entrance, with a sign reading “waiting for my death sentence.”

So, the big question is: can you get out of your commercial lease, or get your lease payments reduced, if a massive construction project disrupts your business?

The answer depends on where your business is located, and on what it says in your lease.

Understanding Your Lease

A few things to consider:

  • Does your lease give you the right to find an alternative tenant, or to sublet the premises?(This may not help much if no one wants to take over the location, but a different business – like an online one — might not be as dependent on foot traffic.)
  • Does your lease give you the right to terminate if the normal use of the premises becomes impossible?

Before You Sign

If you haven’t yet signed a lease, you might want to add clauses like those to protect yourself from similar dramas in the future.

Some other things you can do before you sign a lease are:

  • Research whether any major construction projects are scheduled for the area, and what impact they’re expected to have on traffic patterns, parking, etc.
  • Consider negotiating a shorter-term lease so you can get out of it earlier if something unexpected happens.(Of course, the tradeoff is that your landlord may be able to raise your rent more if you decide to extend the lease.)

If you want to understand your commercial or residential lease before you sign it, you can get fast feedback at www.lawgeex.com. We’ve created this service exactly for these situations – to help people understand their contracts before they sign them, reducing the risks down the road.

The information and materials in this blog are provided for general informational purposes only and are not intended to be legal advice.