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Business Law

Handling a Breach of Contract

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In the business community, contracts are commonly used and generally “understood,” but what does it mean when a “breach of contract” has occurred? As contracts are the lifeblood of business agreements, it’s crucial to understand them; without them, business agreements may go unfulfilled. Breaches are one the most common reasons people file lawsuits in business law. As such, know your rights in a business agreement. If you’ve experienced a situation where someone did not uphold their end of a business agreement, you may experience a frustrating situation, but the good news is that you may not be at a total loss if you take the appropriate legal action. Breach of Contract | Business Attorneys | Gutglass Erickson Bonville & Larson

What is a Breach of Contract?

A breach of contract takes place when a contract term, whether in writing or verbally made, is not fulfilled. Examples include, payment not made or not made in full, time-frame for delivery not met, etc. The list is essentially endless, as it’s simply any time an agreement is not fulfilled.

Filing a Breach of Contract Wisconsin Lawsuit.

When you feel a breach of contract in a business situation has occurred, it’s in your best interest to contact an experienced contract dispute lawyer. This will be your best defense, as regardless of whether you feel as though you have not received what you understood you would from another business or you have failed on your end, thus breaching a contract, involving a business lawyer early in the process can help. Be sure to gather as much documentation as possible about the incident, from contracts to emails, etc. The filing of a breach of contract lawsuit can be simple if you have documented proof of an agreed business contract (including a clear list of terms) and evidence that a breach of contract occurred. If you do not have the documentation up front, you may not be at a total loss, but we won’t know our options until we discuss.

To begin the conversation around a breach of contract lawsuit, call at (414) 273-1144 or complete a contact request today.

Is This a Trade Secret? Think Again.

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Businesses jealously guard information they deem confidential and economically valuable.  They may attempt to do so by invoking noncompete and nonsolicitation agreements with former employees to prevent those employees from using such information in the course of new employment.  Where there is no enforceable agreement, they may indirectly seek to interfere with the new employment by accusing the former employee, and possibly his or her new employer, of misappropriating trade secrets, in violation of Wisconsin Statutes section 134.90(2).  A recent court of appeals decision may discourage using trade secret litigation as an intimidation tool by recognizing there are limits as to what categories of arguably valuable confidential information qualify for trade secret protection.

Section 134.90 is Wisconsin’s enactment of the Uniform Trade Secrets Act.  The Act defines “trade secret” as follows:

(c)  “Trade secret” means information, including a formula, pattern, compilation, program, device, method, technique or process to which all of the following apply:

  1. The information derives independent economic value, actual or potential, from not being generally known to, and not being readily ascertainable by proper means by, other persons who can obtain economic value from its disclosure or use.
  2. The information is the subject of efforts to maintain its secrecy that are reasonable under the circumstances.

Wis. Stat. § 134.90(1)(c).

On April 28, 2016, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals in North Highland, Inc. v. Jefferson Mach. & Tool, Inc., No. 2015AP643, 2016 WL 1689972 (Wis. Ct. App. Apr. 28, 2016), affirmed a summary judgment dismissing North Highland Inc.’s claim that Frederick A. Wells, a former employee, and his new company, Jefferson Machine & Tool Inc., violated the Act by obtaining from another former employee the amount of a confidential bid North Highland had submitted to Tyson Foods, Inc. for a project at Tyson’s Jefferson, Wisconsin facility misappropriating a confidential bid amount and using that information to present a more favorable bid on behalf of Jefferson Machine.  The court held that North Highland had failed to demonstrate that a confidential bid amount falls within the Act’s definition of “trade secret.”  Acknowledging that the examples of information eligible for trade secret protection—formulas, patterns, compilations, programs, devices, methods, techniques, or processes—did not constitute an exhaustive list, the court nonetheless held that “information” had a much narrower definition than the dictionary meaning of the word.  It encompassed only such information as was similar in nature to the enumerated items.  North Highland failed to demonstrate such similarity.

Accordingly, North Highland teaches that a business cannot establish “trade secret” status simply by satisfying the “economic value” and “attempts to maintain secrecy” criteria in § 134.90(1)(c)1. and 2.  The result also suggests that in the court’s view, confidential pricing information is not the type of information protected under the Act.

If you have been accused of misappropriating a trade secret or want to know whether your confidential business information is entitled to trade secret protection, the experienced business attorneys at Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson, S.C. are here to help.  Call Atty. Joan M. Huffman at (414) 908-0237.

Trade Secret and Business Attorneys

Franchising Basics: Selecting a Franchise

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In the business world, the franchise is a promising, yet often complicated prospect. Choosing to invest in a franchise involves serious consideration and a detailed plan of action.

The decision to buy a franchise is complicated, but it is a rewarding choice for many franchise owners. When you’re contemplating franchise ownership, you need trusted legal counsel. As franchise lawyers, we are familiar with the franchise process, beginning with the foundations and extending through the life of franchise ownership.

Foundational Franchise Decisions: Selecting a Franchise

franchise attorney

As you consider franchise ownership, there are a number of basic factors to consider. Exploring the basic foundation and the keys of successful franchise ownership will assist you in selecting a franchise.

Franchise Basics

What exactly is a franchise? The U.S. Small Business Administration defines a franchise in the following way:

“A franchise is a business model that involves one business owner licensing trademarks and methods to an independent entrepreneur.”

There are a few different forms of franchising. The SBA goes on to explain the two main forms of franchising.

1. Product or trade name franchising occurs when the franchisor owns the right to the business name or trademark and sells that right to a franchisee.
2. Business format franchising occurs when the franchisor and franchisee have an ongoing relationship, and the franchisor provides services to assist the franchisee through the business process.

Before You Invest in a Franchise

Before investing in a franchise, significant research is required. We’ve already addressed the “Franchise Disclosure Document,” the agreement that includes crucial details of the franchise agreement. Before examining the franchise disclosure document, you will start by considering what type of franchise in which to invest.

There are a number of questions to consider as you plan your franchise investment. Listed below are several items to explore with each potential franchise investment:

  • How much can you invest in a franchise?
  • How much financing will be necessary?
  • What are your goals?
  • How successful are other franchisees?
  • What does the competition look like?
  • What is the demand for the product or service?
  • How much support and training is given for franchisees?
  • How stable is the franchisor?

As you consider a franchise investment, you can trust the seasoned lawyers at Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville and Larson Law Firm. We are prepared to support you with franchise litigation.

For more information about our franchise law services, call (414) 273-1144.

Franchise Law | What Owners Need to Know

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franchise lawIf you own a franchise, it is crucial that you take all the appropriate measures needed to ensure your franchise is protected. Unsure how you can receive the protection your franchise requires? Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville and Larson Law Firm understands how complex franchise law is and knows the appropriate precautions that need to be taken.

Important Franchise Law Considerations:

The Contract

The contract, also known as a “Franchise Disclosure Document,” is one of the most important considerations a franchise owner needs to make. Simply put: it is the glue that holds together the franchise. From the legal standpoint, having an airtight and detailed contract is a top priority for every franchise lawyer. The best franchise agreements are thorough, covering a number of crucial items. To give you an idea of how complex franchise law can be, consider the fact that the standard Franchise Disclosure Document includes the following items:

· The Franchisor, its Predecessors, and its Affiliates
· Business Experience
· Litigation
· Bankruptcy
· Initial Franchise Fee
· Other Fees
· Initial Investment
· Restrictions On Sources Of Products And Services
· Franchisee’s Obligations
· Financing
· Franchisor’s Obligations
· Territory
· Trademarks
· Patents, Copyrights and Proprietary Information
· Obligation To Participate In The Actual Operation Of The Franchise Business
· Restrictions On What The Franchisee May Sell
· Renewal, Termination, Transfer And Dispute Resolution
· Public Figures
· Earnings Claims
· List Of Outlets
· Financial Statements
· Contracts
· Receipt

To reiterate: Franchise law is a complicated area of the legal system that demands finesse and attention to detail.

Contract Negotiations

Despite popular belief, not all franchise contracts are non-negotiable. The matter of the fact is, assuming all the appropriate measures were taken, it is up to the franchise owner to decide whether or not the contract can be negotiated. In the event that your franchise is agreeable to a negotiation, you will want to be sure a well-versed franchise law specialist can mull over the details. Why? Your franchise is an asset that needs protecting, so it is important that the smallest of contract negotiations are looked over before any new agreements are made.

Consult a Franchise Law Expert Now

If you are a proud franchise owner who is seeking the assistance of a legal professional, contact our seasoned lawyers at Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville and Larson Law Firm. We are prepared to see after your every franchise law need, so be sure to contact us today.

For more information about our franchise law services, call (414) 273-1144.

Protecting Your Business Name

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legally Protecting Your Business Name Your business name is something unique that helps set your products and services apart from the competition. However, unique business names are not always easy to come up with. In most cases, a business owner has spent a great deal of time choosing the right name for their business, and large amounts of money have been invested into branding this name. The last thing you want is for it to be stolen out from under your feet. So, how do you protect it?

Protecting Your Business Name

Step One – Register your name

The first step in protecting your business name involves ensuring that your business is registered in accordance to the law. When you register a business name, make sure to note the date of initial use, as it’s more essential than the date of registration. The date of initial use gives the owner exclusive rights over the business name. Registration of a business name is mainly done by the registrar of companies. To start the registration process the business owner is requested to propose his or her preferred business. The registrar then performs a business name search to ascertain whether there are businesses with similar or identical business names. If no other matching business name is found the register gives rights to the business owner to use the name.

Step Two – Identify intellectual property rights

The next step requires the business owner to identify their intellectual property rights. This limits the use of the owner’s original idea by others for exploitation or personal gain. Intellectual property rights are granted in the form of patents or trademarks. This helps in encouraging future innovation and investments. Businesses that violate the intellectual property law are liable for prosecution by the other business.

Step Three – Keep your records safe

The third step involves keeping business records safe and stored in a systematic manner. Business documents should be easy to locate and access when required. The documents will act as a proof of ownership in case of a dispute.

Following these steps will help you to protect your business name. 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.

Legal Practice Board Certification

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Board CertificationProfessional practice requires relevant accreditation or board certification, and legal practice is not devoid of these approvals. Currently, it is a requirement that before a lawyer is allowed to practice he or she must be licensed by the relevant authority. Aside from the federal or government oversight bodies, there are independent institutions, such as the National Board of Trial Advocacy, that certifies lawyers.

Board Certification Process

What does board certified mean? Before an individual is recognized by the board as a certified attorney, the candidate is subject to a comprehensive scrutiny process by the relevant committee. This is to ensure that experienced and credible lawyers are accredited. For the applicant to be certified they must:

  • Avail all the relevant documentation ranging from academic to professional to government clearance certificates.
  • Provide references from reputable practicing peers who are certified by the board and in good standing.
  • Sit through board certification exams.
  • Appear before the board certification committee.

After approval the member must abide by the National Board of Legal Specialty Certification (NBLSC) rules and at all time engage the board indulgence while practicing. The certified lawyer is closely monitored by the standards committee to ensure he or she upholds professionalism at all times.

Advantages of employing services of a NBLSC certified attorney

The board certification offers immense benefits to both the practicing lawyers and their prospective clients. There have been upsurges of rogue lawyers who offer substandard services or defraud their clients – most commonly for legal compensation lawsuits. To ensure that you work with the right attorney who will ensure your interests are taken care of and served professionally, it is a wise  to engage lawyers who hold board certification credentials.

Also, it is worth noting that the board has systems in place to receive complaints, settle disputes and discipline members who do not adhere to the required practicing etiquette. Since most of the certified lawyers regard accreditation from such institutions like the National Board of Trial Advocacy in esteem, they will always try to comply with the set standards.

The board has ensured the members are continually educated and equipped with the latest developments in legal practice across the board. The certified attorney must sit various continuous assessment exams geared to make sure that the legal experts sharpen their skills. Consequently, their clients can be assured of competent and high quality legal services. It is vital to grasp that the certificates are renewed after every five years and are only issued after an in-depth valuation of the lawyers conduct over the expired duration.

Going by testimonies of various persons it is a fact that you will draw immense benefits from a certified attorney. 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.

What Type of Business Lawsuits Can We Help With?

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As business lawyers, the professionals at Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville and Larson Law Firm are trained to handle a variety of legal concerns for your business, no matter your field. From setting up a corporate entity and developing employee contracts to filing taxes and diving into franchising, there are a number of scenarios where hiring business lawyers makes sense.

When you face an unexpected business lawsuit, our business lawyers can fight the legal battle to come. Whether you are the plaintiff or the defendant in the case, our business lawyers have the experience and expertise to win your case.

What Kind of Lawsuits Do Our Business Lawyers Handle?

Breach of Proprietary Information Agreement

When a current or former employee, contractor, or consultant uses your confidential or proprietary information without your direct authorization, your business lawyers will help you bring suit against them to collect damages. Proprietary information can include a product, software, coding, client lists, a business model, pricing, graphic designs, budgets, techniques, marketing strategies, and more. When your employees, contractors, and consultants sign a Non-Disclosure or Proprietary Information Agreement, they are legally stating they will not share this information with any other person or business. If you discover that a current or former employee has broken a non-disclosure or proprietary information agreement, contact our business lawyers to discuss your case.

Non-Compete Agreements

As business lawyers, we can not only help you draw up non-compete agreements, but we can also enforce these agreements when current or former employees attempt to evade them. If you employee goes to work for a competitor and voids the terms of your non-compete, our business lawyers can expertly handle the case.

On the other hand, if you are a former employee of a business attempting to claim that you broke an invalid non-compete agreement, the business lawyers at our firm can work with you to establish the non-compete as void and secure your new position.

Complaints to the EEOC or Wisconsin ERD

If a current or former employee sues your business or lodges a discrimination complaint with the Wisconsin Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or ERD (Division of Equal Rights), our business lawyers will work on your behalf to clear your name. As business lawyers we understand that charges of discrimination are serious and harmful to your business’ reputation, and we will work against anyone who attempts to use these legal protections improperly to damage your business. And if you feel that your rights have been violated in the workplace, our business lawyers can also help you lodge the necessary complaints and pursue legal actions against your current or former employer.

Breach of Contract

Wisconsin | What Type of Business Lawsuits Can We Help WithWhen one party fails to uphold a written or oral business agreement, breach of contract has occurred and legal action may be pursued by your business lawyers. If you are accused of breach of contract by a current or former client, customer, employer, or employee, our business lawyers can handle your case. Likewise, if you feel that someone has breached a contract you held with them, our business lawyers can help mount your case against them.

Breach of Fiduciary Duty

Our business lawyers can handle lawsuits you bring against investment consultants for breach of fiduciary duty. If you feel that a consultant knowingly committed fraud or misrepresentation and violated Deceptive Trade Practices Act, contact our business lawyers to discuss your course of action. We can also help you if a current or former client claims that you breached your fiduciary duty.

Libel and Defamation

The business lawyers at our firm are well-versed in libel and defamation cases. If your business is under attack from current or former clients, customers, competitors, peers, or the Department of Regulation and Licensing, or other organizations, our business lawyers can defend your credentials and seek financial damages in a court of law.

Hire the Most Reputable Business Lawyers in Wisconsin

The business lawyers at Gutglass, Erickson, Bonville & Larson S.C. are widely known throughout Wisconsin for our expert handling of business lawsuits. We’ve achieved rare victories — such as judicial reversal of a Decision and Order of the Medical Examining Board against a physician — and secured substantial financial damages for an employer whose workers conspired to steal proprietary information. The legal expertise of our business lawyers ensures the successful, economical handling of your case, no matter the scenario.

Contact our business lawyers today at (414) 273-1144 or use our web submission form to request more information on our services.

Insights From a Business Lawyer: What Qualifies as a Misrepresentation or Fraud Case?

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Misrepresentation is a common crime that can best be described as a civil wrong or tort. As any business lawyer will tell you, misrepresentation can create grounds for civil liability if it leads to the victim suffering any financial losses. For example, a speculator in real estate who sells swampy land masqueraded as an expensive, commercially-viable zoned plot is guilty of misrepresentation. The entity who purchased the property based on the speculator’s misleading declarations may sue to forestall or recover any monetary losses incurred as a result of the transaction.

If you’re not a business lawyer, it can be difficult to understand what constitutes a misrepresentation or fraud case.

Insights From a Business Lawyer on Misrepresentation & Fraud

What is Needed to Establish a Fraudulent Misrepresentation Case?

You don’t have to be a business lawyer to understand that misrepresentation involves making false statements to convince someone to enter a legally-binding agreement. Fraudulent misrepresentation is the most serious of the 3 major types of misrepresentation recognized under contract law.

Basically, the legal concept of misrepresentation allows a business lawyer to seek remedial action on their client’s behalf for any rescissions or damages resulting from fraudulent contracts. For the maker of a fraudulent contract to be proved liable, three things must be established by your business lawyer:

  1. There must exist a misrepresentative statement that was uttered by the defrauder to the victim in any reliable form that can be determined in court.
  2. The defrauder must be fully aware that the victim is completely reliant on the factual correctness of all their statements.
  3. Finally, the victim’s belief in the validity of the defrauder’s proclamations must have been strong, justifiable, and reasonable enough to have caused the misrepresentation to result in pecuniary losses.

What this meaMilwaukee | Business Lawyer | Fraud & Misrepresentationns is that for something to qualify as misrepresentation, it must be shown that one not only lied or falsified facts about a contract, but that you also did it intentionally, with the sole aim of defrauding the victim. As your business lawyer will inform you, this makes it the gravest among all types of misrepresentation and it attracts the most severe complementary penalties as well.

One must note, however that the misrepresentation does not necessarily have to be expressed as a positive assertion for liability to be established. Virtually anything that can be shown as having been intended to deceive the victim will suffice. Expressions like body gestures, hints, innuendos, allusions, half-truths, undertones, and even silence, can all be used to successfully prove misrepresentation. This is where a business lawyer will truly help your case, as they will guide you through the complicated process of building a misrepresentation case.

Legal Countermeasures Against Misrepresentation

Misrepresentation is classified as a civil offense, for which you can only sue for damages in civil court with a business lawter. The criminal court equivalent of this particular offense is aptly known as “false pretenses.” Civil court decisions made as a general remedy for most cases of confirmed misrepresentation will often involve rescission. As your business lawyer may inform you, the court will essentially assume that the misrepresented contract or transaction never actually existed in the first place. The victim will thus be compensated and all parties will be restored to their initial financial positions before the misrepresentation was perpetuated. Your business lawyer will help guide you through the legal process and ensure that you are properly compensated in your misrepresentation case.

Why a Business Lawyer Can Be Helpful

Though fraudulent misrepresentation may have the distinction of having the most significant consequences with respect to recognized types of fraud, it also happens to be the hardest to prove. Demonstrating the defrauders’ “intent” is ordinarily a tricky undertaking, because most can simply claim that they were unaware that their claims were false at the time. A competent business lawyer is essential for misrepresentation victims to successfully pursue their civil cases to a fruitful conclusion. Misrepresentation legislations and statutes are applied differently across every state, so an experienced business lawyer is best placed to inform you on how best to proceed with your suit, and to explain the kind of rewards you may expect.

Get a Reliable Business Lawyer Today

If you feel you are the victim of misrepresentation or fraud in Wisconsin, you’ll need an experienced, reliable business lawyer to shepherd your case. Gutglass, Bonville & Larson Law can connect you with the business lawyer you need. We serve the Milwaukee area. Contact us today for a consultation with a business lawyer.