Monthly Archives

September 2013

Business Law: Tips for Running a Family Business

By | Blog, Business Law | No Comments

business lawIf you practice good business law, running a family business can be a great way to make money and ensure that your family members are employed, as well. Family-run businesses are often very successful due to the fact that many employees have a personal stake in the success of the company. There are special regulations that make a family business different, however. The business law guidelines are discussed in depth below.

Business Law 101:

Business Law Consideration #1 – Spouses Working Together

If you are considering starting a business with your spouse, there are many factors to consider prior to doing so. Having a solid marriage is the single most important factor, with effective communication as one of the key contributors. Additionally, partners should be able to work with each other as a team, rather than be competitive. Finally, it is crucial that home and work life be kept as balanced as possible – this means hopefully keeping ‘shop talk’ to a minimum when spending quality time with your spouse outside of the office.

Once the above factors have been taken into consideration, the next step is to speak to a qualified tax professional and an attorney who specializes in business law about how to legally structure your new business. This is important because there are a number of factors that contribute to whether  the business can be considered a corporation, a partnership, or an LLC. After speaking with a professional in your area of business law, you will be able to decide which choice is best for your business.

Business Law Consideration #2 – Employing Your Parent

When paying a parent employed by you or your company, the business law guidelines may be different. For instance, payments are probably not going to be subject to Federal Unemployment Tax. Payments also may or may not be subject to Medicare Tax and Social Security, depending upon the circumstances. Again, speaking with a tax professional and a business law attorney is highly recommended in this situation.

Business Law Consideration #3 – Employing Your Children

Many times in a family business, your child or children will become a crucial part of the workforce. Not only does employing your child bring extra income into the household, but it can also help teach adolescents and teenagers responsibility, teamwork, and a sense of accomplishment.

The first thing to consider when deciding whether or not to employ your child is how you can do so within the child labor law regulations. There may be exceptions to these business laws in some cases of a child working for their family’s business, so long as no child under 16 is performing any hazardous work.

As far as taxation of a child’s pay is concerned, this often falls under different guidelines than taxing a non-family employee. Sometimes payments to children are not subject to Medicare Tax or Social Security withholding. It is important to reference a business law professional if you are unsure, though. In addition, business law states that payments to children who are under the age of 21 also may not be subject to the Federal Unemployment tax.

Integrate Good Business Law into Your Family Business Today

Starting a family business is a great way to bring your family members closer together and give them a sense of pride in their collective teamwork; however, practicing good business law is of the utmost importance. Before starting any type of business, family or otherwise, it is always best to consult with an attorney and a tax professional to make sure you are following the business law guidelines set up by your state and federal government.

For more information about business law, contact Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville and Larson Law Firm today at (414) 273-1144.

Trademark and Trade Name: Know the Difference

By | Business Law | No Comments

As a business, it is crucial that you know the legal differences between a trademark and a trade name. Many people fail to draw a distinction between these two entities.

Failure to know the difference between a trademark and a trade name can create confusion, or worse, get you into legal trouble. In an effort to help prevent any issues down the line, we have summarized the main differences.

trademark, trade nameTrademark

A trademark refers to a distinctive sign that identifies services and goods provided or produced by a specific enterprise or person. To keep things simple, associate trademark with a company’s brand — think names, words, slogans, symbols, and design.

When Should you Get a Trademark?

Deciding to register a trademark depends on an individual business’ discretion. You can register a trademark on both a state and federal level. Although both are not always required, they are highly recommended.

Having a registered trademark assures that you have exclusive use, preventing anyone else from using your trademark. How is done? The government serves to provide protection from any infringement or liability issues that might surface at a later date. Getting a trademark is a simple way to protect some of the things that make your business unique. Once you are ready to get a trademark, you can hire an intellectual property lawyer to register a trademark on your business’ behalf . You can also apply for the trademark registration personally.

Trade Name

As a business, it is important that you don’t confuse a trademark with a trade name. A trade name refers to a name that is very different from the name of your partner, your personal name, the name of your Limited Liability Company, or corporation that is officially registered. Just as the name suggests, a trade name is the name of your business. Things such as billing, tax filing, and formal identification are some of the issues that fall under the trade name of the company.

Know the Limits of a Trade Name

A business may get into trouble by relying solely on a trade name. This is because there are some businesses that assume a registered trade name gives them the freedom and right to use that name for any business-related purpose. However, in the event that a business uses its trade name in identifying its services and products, the trade name is serving the function of the trademark, hence there must be a consideration of the trademark law. A business is only legally allowed to use its trade name as a trademark to the limit of not infringing upon any existing trademarks.

If your trade name is very similar to a registered trademark, you may cause customer confusion. In the event that this happens, you may have to change your trade name and incur a considerable amount of expense in advertising to correct the mistake. Additionally, you might also end up paying for the lost profits of the original trademark holder. How can you avoid this from happening to your business? The best way to protect your business is to establish a good relationship with a skilled and experienced trademark attorney who will be able to assist you in this crucial process.

Protect your Business with a Registered Trademark or Trade Name Today

What sounds similar in name actually has very different legal implications in the business world. Because of this, it is crucial that you make the distinction between these two terms. Failure to do so can result in some serious legal consequences. When it doubt, play it safe and seek legal counsel.

For information about how Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville and Larson Law Firm can help you with trademark or trade name-related needs, contact us at (414) 273-1144.

How to Handle Employees Called to Active Military Duty

By | Blog, Business Law | 17 Comments

Active Military Duty EmployeesActive military duty refers to when the military forces are called for full time active services. Protecting the people of the state and defending the borders are very important duties of all the armed forces. Handling these employees when they are called on such tours is not an easy task. Employers, under the services of Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act (USERRA), must follow all such rules that are required for the care of their military employees.  An employer must also focus on the following things:

How to Handle Active Military Duty Employees

  • Inform them about all their rights under USERRA, as well as the importance of the military duty.
  • Continue providing health coverage benefits to both the employee and their dependents for 24 months. The employee may select not to remain under the health coverage but under USERRA they will be entitled for reinstatement under the health coverage after they are reemployed.
  • Employees who are called into active duty must be offered reemployment in the position that they would have attained had they not been called away, including seniority, status, benefits and pay
  • Provide reemployment of a military service employee for up to five years following the date they were called into active service.

Military duties are usually spontaneous, so the most important part of it is to create a policy for all the employees that must be followed in any case. They must be given all the guidelines by their employers according to USERRA.

At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues for your business and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

Should Your Small Business Go Public?

By | Blog, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Have you been asking yourself if you should take your small business public? The process of going public with your small business can be complex and is not something you should rush into. There are a number of advantages to making the transition, and below we look at some of the reasons why you might want to go public with your small business.

Why Should a Business Go Public?

Small Business1. Raise more capital: If capital  is the limiting factor in business expansion, many investors consider going public to raise the much needed capital.

2. Brand awareness: The business is widely recognized and the credibility of the business is enhanced. It is easier to market products and services of a public company in comparison to a small business. Clients will often associate a public company with stability and quality.

3. Cross border expansion: Going public helps a business to reach out to a wider market in foreign countries with ease. This opens doors for foreign direct investments.

4. To attract a better workforce: Public companies are able to offer enhanced salary packages, staff training and capacity building. Therefore, they are often able to recruit and retain highly qualified staff in comparison to small businesses.

5. To spread out the risks: Partnership and sole proprietorship businesses may have a limited life span. In fact, many of them disintegrate upon demise of one of the owners. It is therefore necessary to consider going public to ensure that the business life extends beyond the life of the owners.

6. Listing at the stock exchange: A small business might go public in an effort to have their stocks recognized, listed and traded publicly. They are thus able to benefit from international trade gains.

7. Expansion: A small business has limited opportunities for expansion; however going public will give it an opportunity to increase its product range or diversify into totally new products or services. Some small businesses may have reached their threshold and can only go public to reach the next level. A common example are farmers savings cooperatives that grow into full fledged banks.

8. To meet threshold requirements for national and international tenders: Some tenders are only given to public companies and thus small businesses will strive to go public to net such opportunities.

How To Make a Small Business Go Public

Before going public, the management must ensure that the business is making handsome profits. A public offer will only be successful if the public have confidence in the business. Therefore before considering going public, a small business should be making handsome profits and have projections of remaining profitable in the future.

FMLA – Can I Fire An Employee For Extended Sick Leaves?

By | Business Law | 5 Comments

FMLANo business owner finds the task of firing an employee pleasant; this is especially true when the employee is dealing with health issues. However, as Attorney Stacie Rosenzweig explains “if you end up keeping an employee on the payroll who is not capable of performing his or her job duties, this can also be damaging to the business as a whole”. This is particularly true for most small businesses, where the cost of one employee makes up a large percentage of revenue. Before attempting to fire an employee who has been taking extended sick days off from work, business owners should ensure that they are aware of their rights and the rights of the ill employee.

FMLA Eligibility

To be eligible under the FMLA Law an employee must have worked for the business for at least 12 months, clocked at least 1250 hours over the last 12 months and worked at a location where the business has 50 or more employees within a 75 mile radius.

It is critical that small business owners realize that even if the business is not required to comply with the Family and Medical Leave Act, they might still be required to comply with state employment laws. These laws could be similar or stricter to the FMLA.

FMLA – Can I Fire An Employee For Extended Sick Leaves?

Business owners are not required to provide compensation for sick leaves, according to the FLSA (Fair Labor Standards Act). However, business owners should become familiar with the FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act). According to the FMLA Guidelines, employees are provided with up to 12 weeks of unpaid sick leave for certain medical situations for either the employee or a member of their immediate family.

Under the Family and Medical Leave Act, small business owners are required to provide eligible employees with up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave each year in the following situations:

  • The birth and care of the employee’s newborn child
  • Placement of a child with the employee for adoption or foster care
  • When caring for an immediate family member with serious health conditions. This includes a spouse, child or parent.
  • If an employee becomes unable to work due to a serious health condition.

At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues for your business and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

Can I Legally Use Business Profit For Personal Use?

By | Business Law | 5 Comments

Business ProfitIn the world of commerce, the definition of business profit varies based on the type of business which you are dealing with. This also determines who gets to make the decision on how to spend the business profit.

In layman’s terms, the business profit definition basically means the excess of income over expenditure, income from an investment or transaction or the advantage derived from engaging in an economic activity. The choice on how this profit will be used varies from the type and structure of business in which one is engaged in. The following list shows various structures of businesses and how the decision on how to use profit can actually be reached:

Business Profit Usage

Sole Proprietorship: This is a type of business owned by one person. He/she is solely responsible of the day to day management of the business. It is the most common type of business. The greatest advantage is that the sole proprietor gets to enjoy all the profit made by the business without sharing it with anyone. The disadvantage of such a business is that the sole proprietor also bears all the loss, decision making and the burden of running the business rest solely on him/her.

General Partnership: In this type of business, two or more persons contribute capital, labor and managerial skills in the running of the business. They get to share profits, losses, management, and liability upon some agreed upon ratio written in the partnership agreement. In this type of structure the business profit made is also divided among the partners upon a given ratio.

Limited Partnership: This is somewhat similar to a general partnership with the exception that the liability of limited partners can only extend to as much as their capital contribution towards the business was worth. They cannot be called upon to meet liabilities of the business beyond the capital amount they contributed towards the business. They also have a limited managerial role towards the organization.

Limited Liability Partnership: In this partnership business, individual member’s liabilities cannot extend to cover liabilities that results from negligence of a particular individual. This type of business structure is mostly found in partnerships formed by lawyers and accountants. The business profit made in this type of business is shared out among the members based on the agreement made by the partners prior to commencing operations.

Limited Liability Company: This type of business is more complex than the rest mentioned. Two or more individuals come together and form a business then register it with the registrar of companies: a process known as incorporation. This gives a legal personality to the business separate from its owners. The business profit is shared out to the shareholders as dividends.

Corporation: In this type of business, you are given more privileges and rights, but you are able to handle less liabilities than would have been the case if dealing in the same business as an individual or a company. Some of the benefits of working as a corporation are you get some financial benefits and tax cuts. Corporations are run by a board of individuals who oversee how profits will be shared out among the members.

Spending The Business Profit

Before you take up the profit made from a particular type of business. It is important to understand the structure of business in which you are operating in. Then you will be able to determine just how much of the profit is due to you. It is also recommended that you seek the services of an accountant or a lawyer who is better placed to explain just how much business profit you ought to receive at the end of trading period in a particular type of business.

At Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, we understand the challenges of dealing with legal issues and we are here to help. Give us a call and we will be happy to answer all your questions. Call us today at (414) 273-1144.

Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson – Milwaukee Lawyers Receive Best Lawyer Awards

By | News & Events | 4 Comments

It’s with great pride that we announce that Milwaukee lawyers Kathleen Bonville, Paul Erickson, James Gutglass and Mark Larson, from Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, S.C., were recently selected by their peers for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America© 2014 (Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC).

Milwaukee Lawyers Voted Best Lawyers In America

Milwaukee LawyersSince it was first published in 1983, Best Lawyers® has become universally regarded as the definitive guide to legal excellence. Because Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive peer-review survey in which almost 50,000 leading attorneys cast nearly five million votes on the legal abilities of other lawyers in their practice areas, and because lawyers are not required or allowed to pay a fee to be listed, inclusion in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor. Corporate Counsel magazine has called Best Lawyers “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” And the legal community, the media, and the general public agree!

Keep in mind that each addition requires that attorneys maintain these votes each year to be included in the next, so our team of Milwaukee Area Attorneys shows a tradition of excellence that continues with time. And it’s no surprise that this is the case with over 30 years of experience!  Case after case, we’ve earned our clients’ trust as the Best Milwaukee Lawyers by combining our ethics, skills, compassion, and integrity.

Award Winning Milwaukee Lawyers

Kathleen Bonville, since 2012

Lawyer of the Year 2014 – Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants (Milwaukee)

  • Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants

  • Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants

  • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants


Paul Erickson, since 2012

  • Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants

  • Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants

  • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants

  • Lawyer of the Year 2012 – Medical Malpractice Law (Milwaukee)


James Gutglass, since 2007

  • Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants

  • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants

    • Medical Malpractice


Mark Larson, since 2012

  • Legal Malpractice Law – Defendants

  • Medical Malpractice Law – Defendants

  • Personal Injury Litigation – Defendants

The Best Lawyers in America© 2014. Copyright 2013 by Woodward/White, Inc., Aiken, SC