- Posts by Sara SandfordPrincipal
Sara works with clients from around the world in all stages of establishing, acquiring and operating businesses across borders. She concentrates her practice on representing Japanese companies and individuals in their ...
Imagine you are focused on the latest growth trends of your business, working hard to forecast where your next sales will come from. You're thinking about what new staff you will need to support that growth. While you are preparing for an important meeting related to a promising business prospect, a receptionist in your office notifies you that your company has just been served with a lawsuit. The notice says that you have only a few weeks to respond and you now have to set aside other business matters to assess the case, locate help, and decide on a strategy for addressing the claim in an unfamiliar legal system. For many foreign investors, facing the risk of being sued is perhaps the most daunting part of conducting business in the U.S.
The next installment of our doing business series provides an introduction to litigation in the United States. It aims to give readers some basic background of the life cycle of a lawsuit, and describes options for dealing with a dispute, whether through litigation, mediation or arbitration. Understanding what will happen, being prepared, and thinking ahead about what to do in such an event, can help a company face the claim, and also allow the primary focus to stay where it should be: moving a business forward.
Perhaps you have heard about some of the huge fines companies have faced after being charged with antitrust violations, such as Google’s $2.7 billion fine in June 2017, or the $26.7 million Euro judgment against one of Heineken’s subsidiaries in Greece in July 2017, or the $1.3 billion fine currently under review against Intel. Government suits are bad enough, but after them come private lawsuits from other companies affected by the same conduct. Antitrust litigation from a few ill-considered decisions of individuals in a company can take years to resolve and millions to defend. They disrupt companies and demand substantial human resources, as well. There is no doubt that avoiding antitrust violations is a much more cost effective strategy than waiting until problems occur.
Our next installment of our Doing Business in the U.S. series is a brief introduction to U.S. antitrust laws. For more information or additional training on guidance on antitrust laws, feel free to contact Don Scaramastra at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 206.816.1449.
One of the things any active investor in the United States almost always needs is a place in which to operate its business. Buying or leasing property can be tricky, however. For example, one can face liabilities by merely becoming a lessee of real property with environmental problems, such as contamination from prior uses. Zoning regulations might not allow a company to use the property as planned. Disputes or judgements associated with real property can create huge headaches for a new owner or tenant, alike.
Over the past six months, as Chair of the American Bar Association, Section of International Law, I’ve traveled to destinations from Washington, D.C., Chicago, San Francisco and Ottawa to Istanbul, Rome, Tokyo, London, Budapest, Bogota, and Munich. My experience has been a constant and vibrant engagement with the international legal community on a wide variety of matters. I have had a front row seat to history being made at the conclusion of Colombian peace talks, listened to the personal account of a North Korean dissident, learned about the differences between other legal systems and our own, discussed the changes and challenges occurring in the practice of law, and grappled with impediments to fair and accessible legal systems for all. The Section has proved to be an amazing platform – both from which to support those seeking justice and to work toward a healthy and fair legal system for future generations.
Almost everyone approaching the U.S. consumer market has heard nightmares about lawsuits and read damaging headlines from consumer claims. These range from industry wide antitrust investigations to criminal indictments for racketeering to class actions for deceptive advertising.
In May this year, U.S., Canadian and Mexican government officials met to discuss cooperation in enforcing antitrust laws in an increasingly global market place, suggesting even greater cooperative activity in the antitrust arena relating to global markets.
In our latest installment of our Resource for Doing Business in the U.S., we focus on key laws an investor in the U.S. needs to know when employing personnel in the U.S. These laws apply whether the personnel are transferred from abroad or hired locally – and, as you will see, there can be laws related to employees at the local, state and federal level. It’s definitely an area where one cannot merely assume the laws will be similar to the laws at home. The laws also vary state to state and city to city within the U.S. To avoid exposing their employers to significant risks, even experienced Human Resources managers seek legal advice in this area.
By way of introduction to the topic, the installment you find here sets out the basics of what you need to know as a new U.S. employer. GSB also offers AdviceOnline, a resource for employers that dives into much greater depth on various labor and employment related matters. It is a useful tool to help our clients deal with some routine undertakings on their own, and also to know when it is best to seek legal assistance.
We hope these tools are useful in providing you the necessary guidance to minimize legal claims from personnel and to keep your workforce happier.
You have a plan for doing business in the U.S. Now who is going to help make that happen? As companies get ready to do business in the U.S. they often delay in thinking about one key matter: making sure the people needed to implement their strategy can obtain the visas or other permission required to work in the U.S. Some U.S. hiring is possible, of course, but often key personnel are needed from abroad. If you’re going to be sending someone like Oscar winning Penélope Cruz, it may be easy to verify that a visa is available. Sometimes even experienced business personnel or their contemplated jobs, however, do not match what the U.S. immigration authorities require. Even a visa for a superstar can take a significant amount of time to arrange. It’s terrible when a project gets delayed or cannot take off because the right person isn’t ready with the right work authorization.
The next installment in GSB’s Resource for Doing Business in the U.S. sets out the basic visa options for working in the U.S. It outlines the types of visas and the associated process and requirements, which should help in timely and efficient planning.
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Many people have heard about the lawsuit in which a consumer won a substantial verdict against McDonalds over a burn from a cup of hot coffee. Last year, General Motors faced claims due to a faulty ignition switch that shut off the engine during driving, disabled power steering and power brakes, and even prevented airbags from inflating. Toyota faced similar problems in the past with claims of sudden acceleration in certain car models. Tobacco companies like Philip Morris faced lawsuits over cigarettes and many medical device companies have faced serious claims that their products harmed the very people they had aimed to help. Products liability cases affecting consumers tend to make headlines. Defending companies often take a hit to their reputation as well as their bottom line.
Our next installment of GSB’s Resource for Doing Business in the U.S. introduces products liability law concepts and explains why negligence or fault may not even matter. Moreover, it’s not just the manufacturer who is at risk; others in the distribution chain can be sued too. With judgements frequently in the millions of dollars, foreign investors in the U.S. must think ahead about ways to mitigate the substantial risks that products liability claims can present. This installment offers a few concrete steps a potentially affected company can take to protect its business and investment.
The State of Washington’s new Limited Liability Company Act became effective on January 1, 2016. The new Act significantly alters several aspects of Washington law governing LLCs. To see what you should be aware of moving forward under the new Act (including potential changes to current LLC agreements), please feel free to refer to our white paper on the subject here.
Imagine that you’ve had great sales of your product in your home country and you attend an international trade show, where a representative of a famous company from the U.S. approaches your booth. Perhaps the rep tells you that there’s nothing like your product available in the U.S. and it’s guaranteed to be a hit. Can they represent you, the rep asks. Suddenly the potential of the U.S. market opens up and you see dollar signs everywhere. But where do you begin?
It all depends on the perceived opportunity. If a foreign enterprise wants to sell its goods in the U.S., it usually starts small and gradually increases its investment. Our next installment of the Resource for Doing Business in the U.S. describes the different approaches a business might take to sell its wares in the U.S.
- We start with the simplest of legal structures (a simple buy and sell transaction)
- We then describe the other types of structures through which such sales might occur, including distribution and sales agency relationships.
- We also highlight some of the most salient considerations to keep in mind at the outset:
- Compliance with customs;
- Anti-dumping considerations; and
- Other federal laws governing goods entering the U.S. market.
However, stay tuned for future installments of our guide, which will address other considerations and legal risks associated with entering the U.S. market to sell goods or services. This will include information on products liability laws, consumer protection laws, environmental protection laws, intellectual property laws, antitrust laws and the like. Today’s installment is merely to provide an initial introduction to the topic of selling goods in the U.S., and to provide our readers with the key points to first consider when exploring the U.S. market.
The International Practice Group of Garvey Schubert Barer is a cross-disciplinary group of attorneys practicing in areas ranging from business transactions, immigration, maritime, government regulatory work, transportation and logistics, and estate planning. The group members include bilingual and multicultural attorneys who are well-versed in handling these subject matters in a cross-border context. The firm’s attorneys have been actively practicing in the international arena since the early 1970s.