Mesa / Phoenix Law Firm Works Hard at Helping Businesses Protect Intangible Assets

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Mesa / Phoenix law firm of Gibson Ferrin & Riggs, PLC explains that the process of securing and protecting a company's most valuable assets starts long before a case ends up in court.

The future of your company may depend on it.

Regardless of the size of a company, protecting its intangible assets should be of the highest, long-term priority to business owners.

"Good ideas, strategies and relationships are essential to a thriving company," says attorney Scott F. Gibson, founding partner of Gibson Ferrin & Riggs, PLC. "Intangible assets make up 75 percent or more of a company's value. If you want your business to succeed, you must take deliberate steps to secure and protect those important assets."

Gibson, who has been practicing business law for 23 years, examines these vital steps in a new series titled, "Black Hats and White Hats," which can be found free of charge on his business blog at http://www.biziboom.com.

He explains that in addition to three essential tools - non-compete agreements, trade secrets and confidentiality agreements - what may be equally important in the process is that the company's efforts must be "beyond reproach."

"You must develop a plan to acquire a white hat, wear your white hat and make sure your hat is always white," says Gibson.

He takes the analogy from old-time black and white Western movies, where the color of a cowboy's hat revealed the secret intentions of his heart. "If only it were that easy to distinguish good from evil in real life," he says.

Gibson points out that wearing a "white hat" will come into play on that inevitable day when a business owner files suit to enforce his or her legal rights.

He explains that litigation over misappropriation of intangible assets will almost always involve a preliminary injunction hearing, which is held shortly after a complaint is filed so the court can determine how likely it is that the plaintiff will prevail in a full-blown trial.

"Preliminary injunction hearings are expensive, exhausting and emotionally draining," he says. "In a very short time you must convince the judge that your cause is just."

In this hearing, judges search for clues on how they should rule.

"They are, in essence, trying to determine who is wearing the black hat and who is wearing the white hat," Gibson says.

"Good guys" wear white hats all the time, he adds. "It's all about the company's reputation."

Examine your business practices, he advises. Identify trade secrets early on, implement and follow appropriate procedures to secure those assets, treat employees fairly, insist on being ethical, spell out expectations and enforce reasonable restrictions.

"You cannot afford to be caught wearing a black hat," says Gibson. "The future of your company may depend on it."

Other articles in this series focus on the cumulative effects of a company's actions; how to draft specific restrictions; don't overreach; inform prospective employees about restrictive covenants and give them adequate time to consider them; establish expectations early on; enforce consistently; and respect the intellectual property and intangible assets of competitors.

To schedule a confidential and comprehensive business consultation, call attorney Scott Gibson at 480-633-8100.

The attorneys at Gibson Ferrin & Riggs, PLC concentrate their practice on serving individuals, families and small business owners with business-related issues, family law and estate planning. They can help identify and assess the interests that matter most to their clients and work to preserve, protect and promote them. Visit their website at http://www.gfrlaw.net, their blog, and download the e-book "Ten Fatal Mistakes that Business Owners Make (And How to Avoid Them)" by founding partner Scott F. Gibson, at http://www.gfrlaw.net/firmpublications.aspx. The firm's expertise in commercial litigation and business, family and estate law is recognized throughout the Phoenix / Mesa area.

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Frankie Vandehei
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