3 Must-dos to Ensure Your Business & Brand are Legally Protected in 2020!

I love reading the best of lists published at the end of every year. Feeling particularly nostalgic this year with another decade in the rear view, I read my fair share. Everyone has their own best of movies, books, and music lists. But I like to dig a little deeper. For example, The New York Times recalls 2019 in pictures. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel calls out 2019’s unforgettable Wisconsin sports moments. The Atlantic curates the 50 best podcasts.

Those of us who own businesses live by lists and spreadsheets, especially at year end. But numbers don’t tell the whole story. Evaluating whether your business and brand are legally protected is key. For 2020, three issues should top your to do list.

  • Separate your business and personal assets and liabilities by forming an entity. A limited liability company (LLC) is a popular choice for small businesses, in part, because LLCs are relatively inexpensive and simple to maintain. But a corporation may be a better choice depending on your business’s purpose and goals.
  • Formalize contracts with partners, customers, independent contractors, investors, and others who have permission to use your work. Key terms include payment, scope of services, intellectual property ownership, confidentiality obligations, termination rights or limitations, and consequences of breach (e.g., non-payment).
  • Protect your intellectual property by picking a name wisely; consider federal registration for your name, slogans, and logos (trademarks) and creative works (copyrights); and define the rights, limits, and costs if someone else uses your work or you use theirs.

Throughout 2020, I’ll highlight legal issues business owners should consider. Feel free to email topic suggestions to smelnick@melnickmelnick.com. Happy New Year!

Stephanie L. Melnick
Attorney, Melnick & Melnick, S.C.




Stephanie has been practicing law in the Milwaukee area for over 20 years and currently owns Melnick & Melnick, S.C. – a law firm that caters to small and medium-sized businesses. Stephanie also started She Stands Tall to help female entrepreneurs and business owners network, learn, and grow.