Tagged: lawyer in savannah

Savannah Attorney Charles Bowen to Discuss Film Industry at Buy Local Savannah May Meeting

Savannah Attorney Charles Bowen to Discuss Film Industry at Buy Local Savannah May Meeting

(SAVANNAH, GA.) Charles “Bo” Bowen of the Bowen Law Group will discuss the Savannah area’s burgeoning film industry when Buy Local Savannah gathers for its May meeting Thursday, May 23, at Cohen’s Retreat, 5715 Skidaway Road.

Charles Bowen

Charles Bowen

Bowen will discuss film and television production in the area, including existing barriers to its continued expansion and the risks presented by potential boycotts. Bowen’s law firm specializes in commercial and entertainment law, and he has expanded his involvement to larger interests in the film industry.

He is a frequent commentator and writer on entertainment industry topics in local media. In 2015, Bowen founded the Savannah Film Alliance to promote the film community within Savannah and the greater Coastal Empire through advocacy and action via education, outreach and collaboration.

He also founded Southern Gateway Production Services to ensure a seamless experience for out-of-town producers coming to Savannah to film their projects.

Bowen attended Mercer University in Macon, Georgia, where he graduated with honors in psychology and political science. Upon graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 1995, he moved to Savannah and established a corporate law practice. He has developed a reputation as one of Savannah’s most experienced attorneys in entertainment law.

The Buy Local meeting will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., and lunch will be served. Reservations are required.

The local trade association boasts about 150 member businesses in varied fields. Buy Local Savannah’s mission is to support locally owned and operated, independent businesses in the greater Savannah area, to maintain the area’s unique community character, provide continuing opportunities for entrepreneurs, build community economic strength and prevent the displacement of community-based businesses by national and global entities.

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE BOWEN LAW GROUP
Based out of Savannah, Charles Bowen is a business attorney who focuses on commercial and entertainment law and also offers comprehensive mediation services. Bowen attended Mercer University in Macon, Ga., where he graduated summa cum laude with honors in both psychology and political science. Upon graduating from Georgetown University Law Center in 1995, he moved to Savannah and established a corporate law practice. Bowen was named “Business Advocate of the Year” in 2015 by the Savannah Morning News. He won the “2016 Helen V. Head Business Leader of the Year Award” presented by the Savannah Area Chamber of Commerce. He also chaired the 24th Annual Kiss-a-Pig campaign on behalf of the American Diabetes Association. Bowen has received the Martindale-Hubbell® AV® Preeminent™ rating, the highest rating based upon confidential surveys sent to other attorneys. He also has been selected by the members of the State Bar of Georgia as one of Georgia Trend’s 12th Annual Legal Elite in two categories: Business Law and Corporate Law. He is the author of three eBooks. With panoramic views of the city and the Savannah River, The Bowen Law Group is located on the top floor of the Manger Building at 7 East Congress Street. For more information, call 912.544.2050 or visit thebowenlawgroup.com. Follow The Bowen Law Group on Twitter at @bowenlawgroup.

CONTACT
Charles J. Bowen, Founder
The Bowen Law Group
912-544-2050
cbowen@thebowenlawgroup.com
thebowenlawgroup.com

How to Get into the Film Industry By Charles “Bo” Bowen

How to Get into the Film Industry
By Charles “Bo” Bowen

So you want to be in pictures? Considering that Savannah is transforming into a thriving entry point for film and television careers, you are definitely in the right place.

Until fairly recently, almost all roads leading to the film and television screen started in Los Angeles or New York City. Over the past decade, however, advances in technology and financial incentives like those the state of Georgia adopted in 2008 have expanded the industry far beyond California and New York. Georgia has been the primary beneficiary of this expansion with Atlanta topping the list of current filming locations and significantly-smaller Savannah coming in second.

If you are interested in becoming a part of Georgia’s film industry, you should know one thing up front: no one starts at the top. The movie and television industry rewards experience and is merit-based. Anyone willing to work hard and maintain a positive attitude in the high-paced and stressful world of film production, however, will likely find themselves progressing quickly.

Granted, experience is crucial to success in almost all professions, but it is especially true in the entertainment industry. When a production begins filming, hundreds of strangers come together to work intensely on a single project — often for months at a time — and then immediately move on to the next opportunity. There may be a few stories of overnight success, but for the most part, those individuals worked hard for 20 years to earn that “overnight” success.

If you believe a career in movies might be a good fit, it is always a good idea to give your interests a thorough test drive. A great place to start is to work as an extra on one of the numerous productions in and around Savannah.

Working as an extra largely consists of waiting around for hours for a few minutes of work as a background player with no lines and minimal pay. But it is a prime opportunity to watch what film professionals are doing. Does it look interesting? Can you cope with the rigid top-down management and stressful environment? Does the reality look as appealing in person as it did in your imagination?

Casting calls are typically well covered in local media, thus finding an opportunity to work as an extra can be as simple as searching “casting in Savannah GA” on the internet. Casting calls are also often listed on the Savannah Regional Film Commission’s website, savannahfilm.org, or you can send a request to join www.facebook.com/groups/savannahextras.

If you still feel drawn to invest in a film-related future after being on a set, Savannah has you covered. Thanks to Savannah Technical College, our city hosts one of the 12 campuses of the Georgia Film Academy. This unique partnership of the University System of Georgiaand the Technical College System of Georgiaprovides a certification program of 18 credit hours, complete with internship opportunities.

Georgia Film Academystudents study a curriculum of on-set production, set construction and scenic painting, lighting and electric, grip and rigging, introduction to special makeup effects, post-production effects and, in the future, production accounting.

At $89.00 per credit hour (plus fees) at the technical college level, you can complete the entire course of study in just two semesters for a very affordable price. This can be a worthy investment to help break into a field where the Georgia Film Academyestimates an average salary is $84,000.00 a year (not to mention retirement benefits and health insurance coverage).

The required introductory course is currently on the schedule for Savannah Tech’s summer semester.

These types of jobs are on the production crew. There is a tremendous need for local crew in Savannah and once you receive the requisite training and experience, work should be easy to find. If you are more interested in the creative side of the process (directors, screenwriters, actors, etc.), there is still far more than just luck involved.

Savannah has a number of successful theater groups where you can audition for local productions to help you explore whether acting may be for you. There are also quite a few acting classes and workshops taught locally to help you hone your skills. Savannah offers college and university resources for those careers, as well. You can pursue theatrical performance degree programs at Georgia Southern University’s Armstrong and Statesboro campuses as well as Savannah State University. Savannah College of Art and Designoffers programs in almost every spectrum of the creative side of the entertainment industry from highly-skilled and respected professionals.

Most importantly, do not give up.

Almost everyone enters the film industry slowly for little pay to learn firsthand what the entertainment world is all about while gaining practical skills and making all-important contacts prior to finding success. If you are willing to put in the time and effort, Savannah’s film production boom ensures the opportunity is there for the taking.

Charles Bowen

Charles Bowen

Business and entertainment attorney Charles “Bo” Bowen is the founder of Southern Gateway Production Services. He started the production services company with the mission to ensure a seamless experience for out-of-town producers by providing them connections with local crew, vendors and service providers. Bowen is also recognized within the Savannah film community for his formation of the Savannah Film Alliancein 2015. As the founder of The Bowen Law Group, he has also developed a reputation as one of Georgia’s most experienced attorneys in entertainment law. http://www.thebowenlawgroup.com

 

SEDA Entertainment Incentives Extended for Three Years: How to Make it Work for You

SEDA Entertainment Incentives Extended for Three Years: How to Make it Work for You
By Charles Bowen

Charles Bowen

Charles Bowen

Savannah did not become a preferred filming destination based solely upon Mother Nature’s bounty. While warm weather, beaches, forests, creeks, and marshes (not to mention some of the most beautiful architecture on the planet) can offer up a feast to any camera’s lens, the truth is that the lifeblood of the film industry is illusion. One room with a simple green wall can be instantly transformed into any location in the universe. Thus, despite the breathtaking nature beauty of the Coastal Empire, continued success will not be assured by our looks alone.

Movies and television shows can be insightful, inspirational, and uplifting. They have the ability to mentally transport the viewer to another time and place and have motivated some of the greatest leaders of our generation. But first and foremost, they are also a business. That means that money counts. A lot.

The State of Georgiahas become one of the top filming locations in the world due to the generous film tax credits offered by the Georgia Department of Economic Development. Those financial incentives are why the dead walk in Senoia, Georgia and the Black Panther’s homeland of Wakanda has an Atlanta ZIP code.

While that is great for the state as a whole, what about Savannah? That is where the Savannah Entertainment Production Incentive comes into play. The Savannah Economic Development Authority(SEDA) has just approved a three-year renewal of this unique set of financial incentives for movie and television productions.

Thanks to SEDA, Savannah became the first city in the state to add additional benefits on top of Georgia’s already generous incentives. These local incentives provide $4 million to qualifying film and television productions that shoot in Savannah. They have also earmarked $100,000.00 of that total for professional auditing to ensure that the guidelines are being followed by the recipients.

So how do these incentives benefit local businesses? In the broad economic picture, everyone in the region indirectly profits due to the boost that productions provide the local economy. Movie and television productions directly spent more than $120 million dollars in the Savannah area in 2018, which equates (according to the experts) to a total economic impact of over $250 million. Landlords, florists, security firms, antiques dealers, equipment rental firms, hoteliers, restaurateurs, and many other industries all shared in that windfall.

If you would like to apply for the incentive directly, however, you must be planning a feature film or television pilot with a budget of at least $2 million with at least $500,000.00 of that amount being spent on approved expenditures within Chatham County. Productions that meet those requirements can qualify for a 10 percent rebate on qualified local spending up to a cap of $100,000.00. Television series have higher budgetary requirements but the annual cap goes up to $250,000.00.

The precise guidelines may be found on the Savannah Regional Film Commission’s website, savannahfilm.org. The incentives previously applied only to Chatham County but now cover any filming within a 60-mile radius of Savannah City Hall.

It should also be noted that SEDAis providing economic incentives to help build the local crew base, as no production would be possible without the myriad of individuals working diligently behind the scenes. If you have five years of verifiable experience as a film or television technician and would like to relocate to Chatham County, the local incentive will reimburse up to $2,000.00 per household for qualified moving expenses. The current budget allocates up to $100,000.00 per year on these crew relocations. That is enough for fifty crew members per year to move to Savannah, helping ensure that producers can find the local crew they need. Even better, the production itself can qualify for a bonus incentive if 50 percent of its official crew is hired locally.

Given the tremendous advantage that Atlanta has over Savannah in terms of both population and infrastructure, Atlanta will likely always remain the top filmmaking destination in Georgia. Indeed, Atlanta showed up No. 2 on MovieMaker Magazine’s January 2019 list of the best major cities for making movies. Savannah, however, claimed the No. 1 spot on that same magazine’s list of best small cities and towns for film and television production. This is a tremendous testament to the hard work of all the individuals in the Savannah Regional Film Commission, SEDA, and the countless other individuals and companies that have tirelessly and diligently labored to help build the Savannah film and television industry.

If your business has benefitted from the entertainment industry, or even if you just enjoy the thrill of wondering whether that person at the corner table in your favorite coffee shop is a movie star who has slipped away from the bright lights, a great deal of the credit goes to the Savannah Entertainment Production Incentive.

Charles Bowen is an entertainment attorney and founder of the Savannah Film Alliance. He may be contacted at 912.544.2050 or cbowen@thebowenlawgroup.com

Everything You Need to Know about the GDPR

Everything You Need to Know about the GDPR
by Charles Bowen

Charles Bowen

Charles Bowen of The Bowen Law Group

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) recently went into effect across the European Union (EU). The GDPR is a data privacy law that gives citizens of the EU far more control over their personal data and requires businesses to keep all such data private, safe and protected.

This law was passed in response to the Cambridge Analytica scandal in which the private personal data of millions of people was sold to England’s “Leave the EU” campaign and Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016.

Any company that collects data on people who live in the EU must follow the new regulations, no matter where the company is based. That means that if you own a company in Savannah but sell to a European customer, you are subject to the new GDPR privacy rules.

To better ensure privacy and protection, companies must now procure their customer’s actual consent in order to store their personal information. This request for consent must be clear and written in plain language (rather than buried in 50 pages of terms and conditions).

Any company that does not obtain this explicit consent may only store a customer’s personal data if they can prove they have a “lawful basis” for doing so such as a contract or other legal obligation.

What this means in practical terms is businesses will have to pay a lot more attention to the security of their customers’ personal data and they will not be allowed to hold onto it for any longer than necessary. Also, anyone can ask for their personal information to be deleted from a company’s servers at any time.

Any company found to be in violation of these new rules will face huge financial penalties. Large companies can be fined up to 4 percent of their annual global sales, which can run into billions of dollars. Even small companies can be fined up to $23.5 million.

The GDPR was designed to protect consumers due to the large number of cyber attacks and data leaks over the past few years. And despite the fact it is a European law, given the global reach of the internet, it has been estimated that 92 percent of American businesses will be affected.

There currently are no plans to expand the provisions of GDPR to the United States, but many experts believe that given the almost daily occurrence of large scale data hacks, it’s only a matter of time until such protections are extended worldwide. It will be interesting to see how effective the EU’s monitoring of the GDPR is over the next several months and how aggressively violators are prosecuted.

It seems clear, however, that data breaches and mishandling of personal customer information will be a lot costlier.

Despite the effort it will take to understand, implement and enforce the GDPR, it is hard to deny some type of action must be taken. Anyone who has ever shopped for a product on Amazon and then immediately seen an ad for the same product on Facebook knows how creepy and invasive the internet’s targeted advertising technology can be.

The National Security Agency can use that same system to seamlessly track almost anyone in the United States, and political firms such as Cambridge Analytica can use it to secretly single out political subgroups and sell that data.

Hopefully, the GDPR is a good start in restoring a bit of privacy to the worldwide web, but it’s just the first step of a long process.

Charles Bowenis a business attorney who focuses on commercial, banking and manufacturing law and also offers comprehensive mediation services. He may be contacted at 912.544.2050 or cbowen@thebowenlawgroup.com

10 Legal Questions Small Businesses Don’t Always Know to Ask

10 Legal Questions Small Businesses Don’t Always Know to Ask 
By Charles Bowen

Owning a small business is an exciting endeavor, particularly when it means turning your passion into an income-generating career. But as almost every entrepreneur learns somewhere along the way (often painfully), being a business owner, unfortunately, does not make you a legal expert.

Attorney Charles Bowen, Founder of The Savannah Film Alliance and Southern Gateway Production Services

Attorney Charles Bowen, Founder of The Savannah Film Alliance and Southern Gateway Production Services

I’ve worked with small business owners for well over twenty years now and helped them manage corporate compliance issues, intellectual property laws, contract disputes, state and federal regulations, litigation, and countless other unexpected legal hurdles. As a result, I wanted to share the answers to ten questions that small business owners often don’t know to ask until it’s too late:

1. Do all of my agreements need to be in writing?
Keeping track of every transaction and conversation may be tedious, but it is crucial to your company’s success in the event of a dispute. Whether it’s contracts with your customers or just a receipt for merchandise, written records greatly reduce your liability and can serve as winning evidence if a disagreement arises. Even a simple email memorializing a conversation can make the difference between legal victory and a costly defeat.

2. How can I avoid getting sued?
Knowing and addressing the most common risks of your industry can greatly reduce your risk of getting sued. Lawsuits can arise in many areas, such as employee complaints, accidentally infringing on someone else’s intellectual property, and failing to meet all state and federal regulations for operation. The first step is to recognize where your company is most at risk and then taking steps to minimize that risk as much as possible.

3. What impact will investors have on my business?
Investors can be a great source of the capital, knowledge, and connections necessary to grow your business. However, it is important to remember that every investment also brings added duties to the investor and reduces your autonomy as the owner. Be sure to that your investment agreement is clear and comprehensive, and that you are not ultimately giving up more than you are receiving.

4. Can I use my personal assets to operate my business?
One of the most common and devastating mistakes made by small business owners is blurring the line between personal and business assets. It is crucial to keep them separated. When you are transferring assets, pay yourself with the same company checks you use to pay your employees. Remember: if you treat your personal and business assets as one and the same, then creditors and courts can do so, too.

5. What can I do to protect my brand?
Regardless of industry, the most important assets of any business are its name and reputation. That’s why making certain your brand is protected is an extremely important part of any business plan. Be sure to register trademarks for your brand name, logo, and other important identifiers of your company. Registering can also help you put a stop to any competitors infringing on your intellectual property.

6. Should I incorporate or operate as a sole proprietor?
If you do not form a formal business entity, you are placing all of your personal assets at risk. To prevent this scenario and limit your personal exposure, you can form a corporation, limited liability company, limited liability partnership, or a limited partnership. Review each structure and how each will affect the way your business is owned, managed, and taxed. Then choose the style that best suits your vision.

7. How can I foster a good work environment and limit my risks as an employer?
Rule one: don’t be a jerk. Now that we have that out of the way, another very effective way to ensure a good relationship with your employees is to create a comprehensive company policy and procedure manual. Knowing the rules (and knowing they will be followed) allows all employees to feel valued, protected, and secure. In addition, stay informed on all federal and state employment laws that affect your business, including anti-discrimination laws, health and safety regulations, wage and hour laws, and licensing requirements.

8. What should I do if I get sued?
The unfortunate reality is that the more successful you are, the more likely you are to get sued at some point. More success means more employees, more customers, more transactions, and inevitably more complaints. If you do get sued, follow three simple rules: (1) remain calm and do not respond in anger; (2) gather together all of the documents and other evidence in your possession related to the lawsuit; and (3) contact your insurance company and/or attorney immediately. If you follow these simple steps, most lawsuits can be resolved quickly and easily.

9. What contracts does my business need?
Well-written contracts protect your company by clearly defining the responsibilities of both parties. They help avoid disputes, make sure you get paid, and provide a clear remedy if one side fails to fulfill their obligations. For most small businesses, I suggest preparing a form agreement that you can use repeatedly and that includes all of the important protections that your company needs. If you operate online, it is also important to make certain that your website includes written disclaimers, terms of service, and privacy policies.

10. Do you have all necessary licenses and permits?
Be certain to annually monitor all federal, state, and local licensing and permitting requirements related to your industry. One very easy way to determine your requirements is to simply visit sba.gov. This website allows you to simply enter your zip code and business type, and it will generate a list of required licenses and permits.
Following these rules can go a long way towards protecting your small business from legal snafus and lawsuits. There are many online and community resources for small business owners that can be of great assistance.

Charles Bowen to Present “The Economic Impact of the Entertainment Industry on Savannah” to Hinesville Rotary Club

Charles Bowen to Present “The Economic Impact of the Entertainment Industry on Savannah” to Hinesville Rotary Club

(HINESVILLE, GA) Charles Bowen, founder of the Savannah Film Alliance and owner of Southern Gateway Production Services, will be the featured speaker at the Hinesville Rotary Club meeting Tuesday, July 11.

Bowen will present “The Economic Impact of the Entertainment Industry on Savannah” during the weekly luncheon at the La Quinta Inn and Suites on Highway 84.

Bowen is recognized within the Savannah film community for his formation of the Savannah Film Alliance in 2015. The organization promotes the film community within Savannah and the greater Coastal Empire through advocacy and action via education, outreach and collaboration.

Most recently, Bowen founded Southern Gateway Production Services, a gateway for producers and movie executives to navigate finding the best crew, talent and location services available in Savannah.

After going through a significant vetting process, Southern Gateway Production Services became a signatory to all IATSE National Term Agreements. IATSE is the union that represents most film and television crews. This allows Southern Gateway clients to gain access to the most favorable terms and conditions offered in the industry.

“From our work with Southern Gateway Production Services and the Savannah Film Alliance, I’m able to get a unique perspective into the inner workings of making films in our community,” said Bowen. “I hope to share this information with other area leaders to promote the growth of this promising industry.”

Attorney Charles Bowen, Founder of The Savannah Film Alliance and Southern Gateway Production Services

Attorney Charles Bowen, Founder of The Savannah Film Alliance and Southern Gateway Production Services

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT SOUTHERN GATEWAY PRODUCTION SERVICES
Entertainment attorney Charles Bowen founded Southern Gateway Production Services with the mission to ensure a seamless experience for out-of-town producers by providing connections with local crew, vendors and service providers. Southern Gateway Production Services is a signatory to all IATSE National Term Agreements. Bowen is recognized within the Savannah film community for his formation of the Savannah Film Alliance in 2015. As the founder of The Bowen Law Group, he has also developed a reputation as one of Savannah’s most experienced attorneys in entertainment law. Southern Gateway Production Services is located at 7 East Congress St, Suite 1001. For more information, contact Charles Bowen at cbowen@thebowenlawgroup.com or 912-544-2050.

CONTACT
Charles J. Bowen
Southern Gateway Production Services
912-544-2050
cbowen@thebowenlawgroup.com
thebowenlawgroup.com

MEDIA CONTACT
Cynthia Wright
Carriage Trade PR
Cecilia Russo Marketing
cynthia.wright@carriagetradepr.com
912.856.9075

The Legal Risks of Live Streaming By Charles Bowen

Over the past year, live streaming apps like Periscope and Meerkat have become extremely popular. Now even Facebook has gotten into the live streaming game. These apps allow users to broadcast any event live using their smartphone. Not surprisingly, this technology has raised a host of legal issues, primarily in the areas of copyright infringement and privacy concerns.

While these apps ban users from posting content that violates others’ copyright, trademark, privacy and publicity rights in their standard Terms of Service, these warnings are often ignored. The first major legal battle erupted last year when hundreds of people who purchased the Floyd Mayweather/Manny Pacquiao via Pay-Per-View live streamed the entire television broadcast. Anyone rebroadcasting a live simulcast is committing copyright infringement and can be subject to substantial fines.

The best approach in determining whether your broadcast is violating copyright law is to simply use your common sense. If you paid to view the content, that content is likely protected by copyright. If you live stream a movie in the theater, for example, you are obviously violating federal copyright law. Similarly, live streaming a concert would likely infringe on the copyrights of the artist, label, and publisher. Even broadcasting live sporting events carries significant legal risks as networks pay large sums of money for the exclusive right to broadcast games live.

Privacy concerns are a little more challenging from a legal perspective. The most important factor is location. If you are in a public place, neither you nor the people around you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Anyone can typically take your picture or stream video of you in public legally, provided they are not trespassing or going beyond innocent recording to actually harassing, stalking or peeping.

One major exception is commercial use. You are not allowed to film others for advertising or other promotional content without first procuring a release from that individual.

If you are not in public, however, live streaming is much more likely to be violative of others’ right to privacy. Recording someone in a private place (such as their home, a restroom or a doctor’s office) without their permission is generally illegal.

As a rule of thumb, the following rules apply:

(1) Do not stream any produced content that you do not own. This includes movies, television, music, and other entertainment that is a performance of a work of authorship and is likely subject to copyright protection. To do so will not only likely result in your account being shut down, it may also subject you to a copyright infringement lawsuit.

(2) Do not use another company’s registered trademark as a hashtag for your broadcast. These are easily detectable and large corporations are typically very vigilant in monitoring for the unauthorized use of their name.

(3) Respect privacy rights. Limit your live streaming of others to public places, and procure releases if you are using the broadcast for commercial purposes. The safest approach is simply to avoid streaming for business purposes from a public location.

Finally, there are also legal implications relating to the archiving of your live stream broadcast. Although Meerkat does not currently archive its streams, Periscope saves streams for 24 hours for unlimited rebroadcast during that time period, and Facebook videos are permanently recorded to your story. That means that if the original broadcast was illegal, you could be sued for multiple counts of infringing upon a copyright holder’s reproduction rights.

Some users have tried to claim that the Digital Millennial Copyright Act’s “safe harbor” provisions should shield them from liability, but that law only protects the live streaming service itself, not the actual broadcaster. That law, which YouTube constantly relies upon to protect itself, states that streaming services are protected if they respond promptly to rights owners’ takedown requests and don’t have “constructive” knowledge of infringement. But this will not protect you from an infringement claim if you knowingly broadcast illegal material.

Live streaming is likely here to stay, as it seems to be a perfect fit for today’s smartphone-carrying, internet-connected world. The bottom line is simply this: be smart and use common sense. Do not broadcast copyrighted material that you do not own, do not be creepy and invade people’s privacy, and procure releases if you are using your broadcast for business purposes. If you follow these simple rules, you will very likely protect yourself from any potentially expensive legal claims.

Charles Bowen is a business attorney who focuses on commercial, banking, manufacturing and entertainment law and also offers comprehensive mediation services. He may be contacted at 912.544.2050 or cbowen@thebowenlawgroup.com

What Small Business Owners Need to Know About the New Regulation on Crowdfunding starting May 16, 2016

By Charles Bowen

It is easy to see the allure of crowdfunding as an option to raise capital for small business owners. Be aware, however, that there are several hidden pitfalls to raising capital through crowdfunding.

Choosing the best model: donation or securities

Donation crowdfunding involves backers donating varying sums of money to support a specific cause or project on websites such as Indiegogo, Kickstarter, or GoFundMe. In exchange for “donations” from investors, the entrepreneur promises to offer services, pre-order of products, and other creative packages. There is very little oversight and the online website serves merely as a facilitator for the transaction between the entrepreneur and the investors.

Securities crowdfunding is subject to far more oversight with the goal of offering more protection for investors. The SEC has passed rigorous rules to make all funding portals register before they will be allowed to facilitate transactions.

Critics of this method argue that these new rules could potentially cost tens of thousands of dollars.

New Regulation Crowdfunding rules
Adopted by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), these new regulations will present new opportunities and obstacles when they go into effect on Monday, May 16.

• Issuers may raise a maximum aggregate amount of $1 million through crowdfunding offerings in any 12-month period.
• Individual investors, in any 12-month period, may invest in the aggregate across all crowdfunding offerings up to the greater of $2,000 or 5% of the lesser of annual income or net worth, if either annual income or net worth is less than $100,000; or 10% of the lesser of their annual income or net worth if both their annual income and net worth are equal to or more than $100,000.
• Aggregate amount an investor may invest in all crowdfunding offerings may not exceed $100,000 in any 12-month period.

The bottom line is that new Regulation Crowdfunding rules will allow anyone, accredited or non-accredited, to invest in a U.S.-based company. Credit scores, collateral, cash contribution from the owner, current cash flow, owner experience, and so forth, are not mentioned.

Intellectual property
After deciding which model to use, an owner must ensure that any designs, names and ideas they plan to use and publish are not currently protected. A search through the database on the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website will let you know if your name or idea is already registered. It’s important to search for the exact name, plus variations of the name including misspellings and similar sounding words or phrases.

In addition, you should do a basic internet search. After verifying that you have not infringed on any current patent and trademarks, be sure to federally register all relevant ideas, names, and designs to ensure that your work is protected.

Deliver on all promises
After a successful campaign to raise capital, a small business owner has continuing obligations to investors. There are numerous horror stories from donation crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter in which entrepreneurs go bankrupt following a successful campaign because they did not plan for the volume they would pre-sell or the additional funds needed to fulfill promises.

There are also commonly legal claims filed against entrepreneurs by investors who did not receive products. Set a realistic monetary goal and plan ahead if you are manufacturing a new product or providing a service. Donation crowdfunding sites serve as facilitators and hold no liability. If you receive the funds; you are on the hook to deliver.

Tax implications
Depending upon your product or service, the money raised may qualify as income or a non-taxable gift. There could also be issues related to sales tax and the issuance of 1099s.

All of these issues should be carefully considered prior to starting any new crowdfunding campaign. While these can be valuable resources of capital, the proper planning, research, and professional guidance will help ensure your great idea enjoys the success it deserves.

Charles Bowen is a business attorney who focuses on commercial, banking and manufacturing law and also offers comprehensive mediation services. He may be contacted at 912.544.2050 or cbowen@thebowenlawgroup.com

Charles Bowen

Charles Bowen, The Bowen Law Group

Ashley P. Daniele Joins The Bowen Law Group

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Bowen Law Group is pleased to announce that Ashley P. Daniele, ACP, MPS, has joined the company as a certified paralegal. In her new role, Daniele will be handling client relations, legal research and comprehensive litigation support.

Originally from the Eastern Shore of Virginia, Daniele comes to The Bowen Law Group from Kemp Smith, LLP in El Paso, Texas where she served as a Litigation Paralegal. She previously served as a paralegal at The Kennedy Law Firm, PLLC, in Clarksville, Tennessee and Hopson & Parris, P.C. in Cadiz, Kentucky.

Daniele received a Master of Professional Studies in Paralegal Studies at George Washington University and Bachelor of Science in Paralegal Studies and Law Office Management at Kaplan University.

She is currently a volunteer for Family Readiness Group in the U.S. Army, HAAF, FRG and is an active member of the National Association of Legal Assistants, Inc. In 2010, she served as a legal administrative volunteer for the American Cancer Society and from 2011 to 2012 she served as the Vice President of the El Paso Paralegal Association.

“It is exciting to be a part of a dynamic, growing practice that is on the cutting edge of the legal profession. Every member of the firm has a shared passion for justice and for zealously pursuing and protecting the best interests of the firm’s clients,” said Daniele.

The Bowen Law Group handles a wide variety of legal matters with a primary focus on business, banking and manufacturing law. The firm also offers mediation services as a faster and more cost-effective alternative to litigation.

Daniele said, “I firmly recognize the fact that this position will be very challenging given the fact that our clients are often placing the future success of their business in our hands, but it is a challenge that I am eager to undertake. I believe that my education and experience has well-prepared me to be a valuable member of the team.”

In her time off, Daniele enjoys exercising, traveling, reading, and water sports.

Ashley P. Daniele

Ashley P. Daniele

MORE INFORMATION ON THE BOWEN LAW GROUP
The Bowen Law Group was founded in 2012 by Savannah business attorney Charles Bowen. Bowen received his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center and is a member of the Georgia Bar. Bowen opened The Bowen Law Group after running the Savannah branches of two large Atlanta law firms for eight years and previously serving for ten years as a partner in a respected Savannah litigation firm. The Bowen Law Group focuses on commercial, banking and manufacturing law and also offers comprehensive mediation services. Corporate law has deep ties to the Bowen family. Bowen’s great-grandfather (whose desk and other heirlooms are on display in the office) was an esteemed business attorney in New Orleans, a legacy that Bowen hopes to continue in Savannah. With panoramic views of the city and the Savannah River, The Bowen Law Group is located on the top floor of the Manger Building at 7 East Congress Street. For more information, call 912.544.2050 or visit thebowenlawgroup.com.

For More Information:
Ashley P. Daniele, ACP, MPS
adaniele@thebowenlawgroup.com
912-544-2056

For Media Inquiries,
Marjorie Young
marjorie@carriagetradepr.com
912.844.9990

Bouhan, Williams & Levy LLC attorney to discuss personal guaranties and problems that can arise

Bouhan, Williams & Levy LLC attorney to discuss personal guaranties and problems that can arise
John Manly will speak Dec. 14 to Exchange Club about ‘What Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know About Signing a Personal Guaranty’
(SAVANNAH, GA.) – John Manly of Bouhan, Williams & Levy LLP will be speaking about “What Every Small Business Owner Needs to Know About Signing a Personal Guaranty” Dec. 14 to The Exchange Club of Savannah.
He will explain the perils of signing personal guaranties and the litigation that can come out of them for small business owners and others.
The speech will be available via livestream at 12:30 p.m. Dec. 14 free to the public by logging on at http://www.learnitlive.com/event/1435/Personal-Guaranties-What-business-owners-need-to-know-
John B. Manly is an associate practicing primarily in the areas of insurance defense, medical malpractice defense and commercial litigation. Prior to joining Bouhan, Williams & Levy, he served as an Assistant District Attorney for the Augusta Judicial Circuit in Georgia. Manly is a member of the State Bar of Georgia and is admitted to practice in the Georgia Supreme Court, the Georgia Court of Appeals, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of Georgia.
Manly graduated from The University of Georgia School of Law in 2008 and clerked for Judge Anne E. Barnes of the Georgia Court of Appeals during law school. He graduated from The University of Georgia in 2004 with degrees in Political Science and Religion.

About Bouhan, Williams & Levy LLP:
Founded in 1886, Bouhan, Williams & Levy LLP is a broad-based, general law practice with an emphasis in corporate, business and transactional law and civil litigation on the local, national and international levels. The firm provides services to a range of clientele including major corporations, small businesses, professional entities, insurance companies, financial and lending institutions, non-profit corporations, individuals and public sector boards and authorities. Bouhan, Williams & Levy LLP and its attorneys have consistently been named to prestigious groups such as the 2010 U.S. News & World Report’s Best Law Firms Rankings, Best Lawyers in America, Georgia Lawyers, Rising Stars, Georgia Trend’s Legal Elite, and the American Trial Lawyers Association’s Top 100 Attorneys in Georgia, among others. Bouhan, Williams & Levy LLP is headquartered in the Armstrong House at 447 Bull Street in Savannah, Georgia.
http://www.bouhan.com. 912-236-2491.

 

About the Exchange Club
The Exchange Club of Savannah meets every week at the Coastal Empire Fairgrounds at 4801 Meding Street in Savannah. Lunch is served at noon, and the program begins promptly at 12:30 p.m. For more information on the Exchange Club, please visit http://www.savannahexchange.org.