Legal Blog

Books That Have Shaped My Business

Posted by Joseph Whitcomb on Jun 2, 2016 4:39:10 PM

Using my ride for more than commuting to work

As the founder and majority shareholder of a law firm, I view myself as a small business owner first and a lawyer second. Don't get me wrong, I take representing my clients very seriously, but if I am to survive as a firm, so that I continue to be of value to my clients, I have to pay at least as much attention to the business of law as I do the practice.  Of course, running a small law firm is time consuming and leaves very little time for the other important things in my life like spendig quality time with my family and taking care of myself physically.  So, I have had to look for small ways to inject efficiencies into my day, in order to make room for everything.

Like many of you, my ride to work in the morning is long and can feel like a giant waste of time.  I have tried many diversions and distractions like riding my bicycle the 18 miles to work or taking the local RTD (Denver's transit system) and both of those tools have been useful.  However, starting in March 2015, I discovered a way to make the commute, however I was making it, more enjoyable and useful.  I downloaded Audible and Overdrive to my smartphone and began listening to books on my way into work.  Before anyone yells at me, I know I am likely late to the party on this idea.  However, for me, this was an absolute game changer.  The nuggets I found in the list of books below, felt too good to keep to my self.  They have helped forge a new perspective on business and leadership.  Some of the material has proven affirming (I felt like I was doing the right thing, even if I didn't know why) and some of it turned what I believed on its head.  Each picture below is a link to the Audible® book that I downloaded.  For those who are wondering, "yes," this is a full-throated endorsement of these books and a small, but meaningful insight into the type of culture I am very interested in instilling in my organization.

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Topics: Firm News

Protecting Your Trade Dress

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Feb 17, 2016 2:23:58 PM

What is the difference between Trademark and Trade Dress?

Trade dress constitutes a “symbol” or “device” within the meaning of §2 of the Trademark Act.[1] It encompasses the “total image and overall appearance” of a product, not just the packaging: the totality of the elements, including size, shape, color or color combinations, texture, and graphics. Trade dress can be the design of a product (the product shape or configuration), the packaging in which a product is sold, the color of a product or of the packaging in which a product is sold, or even the flavor of a product.

Trade dress is different from a trademark. A trademark protects a word, phrase, symbol or design, or a combination of words, phrases, symbols or designs, that identifies and distinguishes the source of the goods of one party from those of others. You would likely place your trademark on a product itself or on its packaging; trade dress is the overall look of the product, not just a name or logo. A trademark also affords protection that trade dress does not, e.g., the ability to prevent importation of confusingly similar goods, constructive notice of ownership, incontestable status, and prima facie evidence of validity and ownership.[2]

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Topics: Trademark Law, Intellectual Property

Bid Protest Over Lack of SAM Registration Accuracy

Posted by Dan McAuliffe on Feb 12, 2016 1:06:28 PM

Double Check Your SAM Registration Accuracy!

We urge all our clients to be thoughtful about not only their corporate documents (such as articles, operating agreements and bylaws), but to double check the accuracy of their DUNS and SAM registrations. Government contracting officers rely on the information in these systems when making their decisions. The GAO has also upheld contracting related decisions by contracting officers that rely on this information – even if the information in the databases is out-of-date or inaccurate.

  In the Matter of: Nationwide Value Computer, Inc. (Nationwide) (GAO File: B-411190, dated June 11, 2015) the GAO denied and dismissed a protest against an agency decision to exclude a small business from an award because the small business failed to certify itself as a small business in SAM.

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Topics: Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDV, Bid Protests, Appellate Law, Debarment, Government Procurement

$500 Million of Alleged SDVOSB Fraud Involving IRS

Posted by Richard Busch II on Feb 12, 2016 12:12:37 PM

Denver Attorney Richard F. Busch II Filed Original Status Protests Exposing $500 Million of Allegedly Inappropriate Government Contracts Awarded By the IRS To Questionable SDVOSB Business. Alleged Perpetrator of Fraud Eventually Tried for Murder.

- Contracts to Strong Castle, Inc. Allegedly Awarded Through a "Cozy" Relationship With IRS Procurement Official and Questionable Small Business Preference Corporate Status

Richard F. Busch II, a Denver-based attorney who specializes in government contracts, filed two Small Business Administration status protests and a Government Accountability Office protest that ultimately led to a spate of nationwide news coverage focused on Strong Castle, Inc.'s questionable qualifications and suspicious relationships in the government-contracting marketplace.

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Topics: Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDV, Bid Protests, Appellate Law, Debarment, Government Procurement

Meaningful Discussions Not Allowed Unless They Are

Posted by Dan McAuliffe on Feb 11, 2016 12:36:18 PM

When competing for government contracts small business clients are often confused about the difference between "discussions" and "clarifications."

 The Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) differentiate between clarifications and discussions. A clarification occurs after a bid is submitted when the government has a “limited exchange” with an offeror. A clarification does not revise or change a submitted proposal. Meaningful discussions occurs when the government communicates with offerors to obtain information essential to deciding if a proposal is acceptable or to provide an offeror with an opportunity to revise or materially modify a proposal.

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Topics: Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDV, Bid Protests, Appellate Law, Debarment, Government Procurement

Colorado Congressman Coffman Co-sponsors SDVOSB Verification Bill

Posted by Joseph Whitcomb on Nov 10, 2015 6:30:13 PM

HR 3945-Another Attempt to Revamp the SDVOSB Verification Process

On November 5, 2015, Representative Mike Coffman, along with five co-sponsors introduced HR 3945, titled Improving Opportunities for Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses Act of 2015.  While the text of the bill was not available at the time of this writing, Ben Stein, Coffman’s chief of staff, sent over a brief description of the components of the bill.  That document can be downloaded here.  Importantly, Representative Coffman, who served in both the United States Army and Marine Corps as both enlisted and an officer, has submitted similar bills for passing in previous sessions of Congress.

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Topics: CVE verification, sdvosb

Protecting Your Company's Precious Trade Secrets

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Nov 10, 2015 4:19:43 PM

Trade secret laws protect the proprietary information that make your business unique and valuable. They fall under the broad spectrum of intellectual property law but carry some distinct advantages. Trade secret laws allow you to keep your important information secret as long as you take reasonable measures to keep it from entering the public stream.

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Topics: Intellectual Property, Trade Secret Law

Significant Veteran Business Set-aside Case Pulled off SCOTUS Calendar

Posted by Dan McAuliffe on Nov 10, 2015 2:54:16 PM

The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) was scheduled to hear oral arguments on September 9 in a case involving whether the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) must prioritize service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (“SDVOSBs”) when it buys supplies and services. The case has been withdrawn from the calendar and both sides are required to prepare briefs filed regarding whether the case is now "moot" as the source of the underlying controversy has ended because the disputed contracts in the case “have been fully performed….”  If the case is moot it will be dismissed.

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Topics: Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDV

Is Your LLC's Operating Agreement Protecting You

Posted by Joseph Whitcomb on Oct 13, 2015 12:37:08 AM

Unanimous Consent Language and Other Requirements

In the past two years, several applicants for inclusion in the VIP database have received denial letters from the CVE, because of wording in their operating agreements.  The most common reason for denial is language requiring unanimous consent to amend the agreement itself or to add members to the LLC.  The VA’s OSDBU posts its official position on operating agreements here.  OSDBU Brief

However, the LLC Acts of 23 States and the Uniform LLC Act require that Operating Agreements be amended only with the unanimous consent of the members.  A similar number of States require unanimous consent of the members to add or disassociated members after the filing of origination documents.  Download the survey here:

 50 State Survey

This unanimous consent requirement by the States makes sense when you consider that Operating Agreements are corporate governance documents, but also serve as a contractual agreement between the members.  If a member is added or removed, the equity interests of at least some of the other members necessarily changes.  Also, the voting paradigm shifts for any proposed changes to the firm.

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Topics: Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDV, Government Procurement

Alcohol and Tobacco Tax Trade Bureau--Managing Our Vices

Posted by Brandon Selinsky on Aug 25, 2015 5:55:00 PM

Who's in Charge of the Beer?

Great American Beer Festival season is upon us and our turns our thoughts to beer.[1] In recent years, discussions of brewing law have often revolved around trademark disputes, which have become increasingly contentious and numerous. But trademark disputes are like the early arrival of pumpkin beers: we need a break from all that. Instead, we are going to look at the decidedly less sexy—but equally important--topic of the TTB.

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Topics: Trademark Law

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