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Kerkman & Dunn
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Milwaukee, WI 53202

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Milwaukee Business & Commercial Law Blog

What happens to the old company after a merger?

Many businesses in Wisconsin find their best chances for growth through mergers and acquisitions. These moves have many requirements, however. It's important to understand some of the legal issues that can come up with mergers and acquisitions.

In a merger, only the surviving entity retains it legal identity. The surviving entity also acquires title to all property that was owned by the other entity. The surviving entity also inherits all the other entity's liabilities.

Keeping business trade secrets safe from competitors

Many Wisconsin businesses have trade secrets, and most take the need to protect them seriously, although they may not always know how those secrets can be misappropriated or otherwise compromised or stolen.

A trade secret can be a process or an element or constituent part of a product or process. It can take a variety of forms, and its essential value to the business differs with each business. It can be a secret ingredient in a recipe, a customer database, the internal workings of a website or an innovative method of executing a task. It can also be a process that does not yet have patent protection. Losing a trade secret can be a major setback for a business because it suddenly gives competitors an unfair edge in the market.

Role of a "debtor in possession" in Chapter 11 bankruptcy

Business owners in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, may be aware that when a sole proprietorship, partnership or a corporation is burdened by debt, one available option is to file for bankruptcy. If a business owner wants to reorganize and not close up shop, they will most likely file bankruptcy under Chapter 11.

A corporation is owned by shareholders, but exists separately and apart from them. When a corporation files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the personal assets of the shareholders are not at risk except for the value of that stock owned by investor.

The need for succession planning in family business

Residents of Wisconsin who run a family-owned business must have a succession plan for their business in place in order to ensure that their legacy continues even after their death. Succession planning is essential for the transition of family businesses from one generation to another.

Succession planning is different from estate planning. Estate planning determines how your property will be divided among your heirs after your death. Succession planning is about the survival of your business after your death.

What did the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2014 propose?

For many businesses, protecting trade secrets means protecting their prosperity. For this reason, business owners often go to great lengths to protect proprietary information that gives them a competitive edge over their competitors. Wisconsin's legislature has accepted this need for businesses to guard trade secrets and thus formally adopted the federal Uniform Trade Secrets Act of 1979 as Section 134.90 in the state's statutes.

How else has the government sought to protect trade secrets? In April of 2014, Sen. Christopher Coons (D.-Del.) introduced the Defend Trade Secrets Act of 2014 into a U.S. Congressional Committee for consideration. Although the bill has apparently stalled, if enacted it would enable owners of trade secrets to file lawsuits for theft or misappropriation. The Uniform Trade Secrets Act only permitted state attorneys general to bring civil actions to obtain injunctive relief or damages.

Helping businesses and the environment coexist in Wisconsin

Curbing pollution and preserving the environment are two major focus areas for administrations across the country, including in Wisconsin. A number of ordinances are in effect to preserve the sanctity of nature for our future generations. It is a justified effort; a pollution-free environment means a healthier life for everyone. In fact, a violation of environmental ordinances is an offense, with penalties ranging from fines and business shutdowns to prison time.

The efforts toward preserving the environment, however, can sometimes inhibit the growth prospects of businesses. A business owner must know how to overcome these difficulties by developing a business plan that takes environment concerns into consideration. Due to a number of disputes that may arise and inhibit a business owner's growth plans, navigating the environmental laws and ordinances in Wisconsin become a challenge.

Who can obtain debt relief under Chapter 11?

No person wants to remain in debt and face harassment from creditors and daily threatening phone calls from debt collectors. However, compelling financial situations can force an individual or establishment to borrow funds further complicating their financial standing. Milwaukee, Wisconsin business owners would know that certain U. S. laws can help struggling business owners. One such law allows filing a petition for bankruptcy under Chapter 11.

A Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition is generally known as a financial reorganization through bankruptcy where a debtor proposes a reorganization plan in order to continue business operations and repay creditors over a predetermined time. Individuals as well as business owners can seek relief under Chapter 11. Any type of business, such as a corporation, partnership or sole proprietorship, is eligible but each category of business has different provisions.

Review delay of media merger affects Milwaukee cable subscribers

Anyone who owns a business in Wisconsin understands that mergers and acquisitions can be complex business transactions. They can lead to leaner and more efficient companies, but statutory requirements must be met before any merger can be fully approved. If the businesses involved are unable to comply with all federal and Wisconsin regulations, then the transaction can be delayed, often with severe impacts on the businesses involved and their customers.

A recent decision by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay review of a merger between media giants Time Warner Cable and Comcast will affect several thousand cable TV subscribers in the Milwaukee area for at least another month. The pending $45.2 billion merger between the two companies was delayed a second time by the FCC because Time Warner did not supply some 38,000 documents as requested within a stipulated period. The FCC says some 7,000 of those documents were improperly withheld as privileged material, and 31,000 were improperly withheld by other vendors.

Financing information for closely held businesses in Wisconsin

A Wisconsin resident can reap a very rewarding experience by setting up a business. However, those rewards only come with the hard work and dedication that it takes to start a business. Establishing a closely held corporation faces many challenges and finance is one of them. The Wisconsin Legislature set up the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA) for meeting the economic needs of affordable housing and providing financing support for small businesses.

According to business law, the WHEDA provides backing with a source of low interest rate money that will help improve profitability of a fledgling business. The WHEDA does not provide the direct financing for the loan, but is the guarantor of the loan, providing a financial pledge to support part of the loan amount. In this manner, WHEDA serves to protect the interests of closely held corporations. The maximum guarantee provided by the WHEDA is usually less than 50 percent of the loan.

Wisconsin attorneys know trade secret violations

For Wisconsin businesses with special products or processes that other competitors would have a hard time duplicating, protecting proprietary information is extremely important. A trade secret is probably the most elemental form of proprietary information. With other forms of intellectual property, such as patents, copyrights and trademarks, the content may be well known to competitors and even the public. However, special protections allow the patent, copyright or trademark holder to seek compensation from anyone who violates that protection.

Obviously, it is important for a company to protect its trade secret from being stolen and used by others. Sometimes, a competitor or an employee will steal a trade secret with the objective of using the information to their own advantage. That can be damaging for a company, so it is important to immediately contact an experienced attorney who can protect the company from further damage.