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Coping with complexity in business structuring

Selecting the right structure for a business has never been as crucial as it is today. This is due to several factors. They affect business structuring considerations for start-ups, spin-offs and business re-constructions. This article discusses how to cope with the complexity.

With businesses striving to compete in globalising markets and operating under several legal, fiscal and regulatory constraints, selecting a limited liability company structure is no longer the easy choice it used to be.

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Company formation and business structuring 101

"I own a boat" says someone you are thinking of going into business with. In the next sentence you hear "I also have several investment properties". Are you impressed?

Our clients were. They entered into business relationships with people who used these exact hook lines. They reel parties into one-sided ventures requiring upfront payments and work in return for vague promises of financial return.

Business structuring and collaboration formation, including for intellectual property (IP), are priority topics. I feel passionate about creating business structures that can be long-lasting for clients. I feel disappointment when businesses fail due to structuring issues.

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SMS revenue models and e-marketing legal compliance

CocaCola marketing in 1900
SMS voting has grown in Australia in synch with the transition of Sunday night television from big movies to big events.

The new TV formats include reality TV, docu-soaps, scripted games and talent quests. In Australia, Europe and the United States SMS voting provides for them interactivity with audiences, revenue, or both.

Television program producers and TV networks on the "television SMS money trail" have three key elements to their business models.

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Telemarketers must comply with the Do Not Call Register Act

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) signed a contract on 1 February 2007 with Service Stream Solutions Pty Ltd to develop and operate the Do Not Call Register. This follows passage of the Do Not Call Register Act 2006 (Cth) in mid-2006 to commence steps to establish the Register. The Register is expected to be operational by May 2007 at which time phone account-holders will be able to register their home numbers to reduce telemarketing calls.

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Music formats and law: commercialisation of 45-rpm records

The iPod, iTunes, MP3, Blu-ray and Digital Rights Management are now familiar to us.

It may seem the technological, commercial and legal competition between various music formats vying for the digital music future is taking us into a radically new era. It is. It's changing valuations, ratings, royalites and revenues.

But the moves being made by the players have historical precedents. We can learn to be better at technology forecasting if we know that history. It can help whether your area of innovation is music or kitchen sinks.

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Business growth of Google and eBay

Last week I spent 30 minutes at the George Street branch of Dymocks, one of Sydney's largest downtown bookstores. I go there from time to time to buy a book and to do market research. Browsing tell's me what's hot in the minds of authors and book publishers, if not the book-buying public. I judge what's hot by: (1) the amount of shelf space dedicated to the topic, and (2) the speed at which the space is growing  or declining.

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Proposal writing or review checklist

The best advice I can give anyone for proposal writing or review is that the proposal firstly MUST tell a good story. It must convey to its readers a compelling, cogent vision grounded in experience, facts and details.

To get there, to prepare a strong and effective business proposal or conduct an effective review, start with a series of small, do-able tasks to generate the detail required. Always ask the right questions at the start. Even if you never write a word, actively question and manage all participants.

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Trustlaw

Practical Rap: Trusts in Business

The origins of the law of trusts is traceable several centuries ago. Trusts remain highly relevant for taxation and structuring purposes.

In Australia and many other countries trusts are used for both personal financial planning and asset protection, and in business for efficient management of assets, liabilities and income distribution. Recent proposed law changes to trust law in Australia have sought to introduce entity level taxation for trusts. The changes did not materialise. They would have been a significant disincentive for the creation of trusts.

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Mobile phone market needs content licensing

In our firm we have been involved in the ever-growing mobile market for some time (see Content Licensing for Mobile Phones). Our focus in this post is on commercial and legal needs for revenue generation by content owners and licensees.

Revenues from mobile data services are rising about 11% per year. In Australia ranked in order of mobile content popularity are first ring tones, followed by general information services, logos, adult content, chat services and Java games. Australian users on average have paid A$3 for monophonic and $5 for polyphonic ring tones, A$4 for colour logos, A$2 for black and white logos, A$3 for chat services, and A$5 for Java games.

It all adds up to a market (lately tagged as "m-commerce") with growing revenues. And these figures are the tip of an iceberg of legal and commercial relationships which result in revenues shared between numerous players.

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Two centuries of patents

To inspire creativity, invention, and intellectual property development in 2007 in your company, here's a list of patents over the last two centuries.

We've compiled the list in date order from data in "Patents: Bubblewrap, Bottlecaps, Barbed Wire, and Other Ingenious Inventions" by Ben Ikenson (Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, New York, 2004). The data has a US bias. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO or PTO) has granted 7 million patents and has about 7,300 employees, including 3,000 patent examiners and 400 trademark examiners.

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Garage culture puts fun to work

My earliest memory of seeing the word "entrepreneur" is in about 1968. I was 11 years old and in the Sydney suburb of Willoughby I was going through stuff in my parent's garage when  I noticed a box of Fortune magazines.

Today's post is on entrepreneurship and how to use garage culture to make a fortune.

Garages have flexible uses. They are used for parties, noisy jam sessions by young garage bands and quiet contemplation by do-it-yourself enthusiasts surrounded by their favourite tools and toys.

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Patent infringement damages skyrocket

A Bloomberg article by Margaret Cronin Fisk this week is a lightning bolt blast on the rising costs of patent infringement.

US figures need to be adjusted to assess their implications for the much smaller Australian market, but here too patent litigation burns dollars. In the bullet points below I've condensed the ideas in the Bloomberg article.

Read the "Bloomberg Top 10" list below with great care in Australia. This is because of several factors.

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Liquor sector trends and statistics for 2007


This post sets out some current statistics on market shares and trends in the Australian liquor sector and the broader Australian retailing sector.

Statistics help in market definition for clients affected by trade practices law, trade mark law, copyright law and other laws. With statistics we make better legal decisions and sharpen our commercial awareness.

In historical terms liquor consumption continues to decline in Australia. But some  other trends are surprising.

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Woolworths' $7 million liquor hangover

This is a post concerning Woolworths Ltd, Ettamogah Bar and Restaurant and others affected by a series of legal decisions by Woolworths which went from bad to worse. The decisions were anti-competitive under the Trade Practices Act 1974 (Cth)

As a preview for this post first read Woolworths gambles... and loses. That is Mike Clarke's 2006 post on Woolworths' failed litigation strategy.

Ladies and gentlemen of the Lightbulb reading jury, Exhibit A for this post is the contract graphic below. Note its date and five parties.

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The IT landscape in 2007

In 1991 Scientific American published an article with a table setting out changes in paradigms in computing over four decades. We've copied that table in this article and added an extra layer to help in your IT strategy - a "2007" column with our views on computing as we enter 2007.

From where we sit content is king with an ongoing emphasis on collaboration and the collation of user content. Security will raise its head further as will the continued proliferation of blogging and citizen journalism and ranking and validating information.

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