Call us  707-418-5118

952 School St. Ste 280
Napa, CA 94559

Disclosing trade secrets during a job interview

Dear Mary, I own a local bakery and I need to hire a cake designer. I’m worried that during the interviews, I’ll have to explain my top-secret cake making methods, and candidates could use that information to start their own bakery, or take a job with a competitor. Confidentiality is really important in my work […]

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Food fight

Dear Mary, I started a local restaurant with my friend and business partner a few months ago and we both agreed to sign non-compete agreements, prohibiting us from opening restaurants in Napa for the next two years. Now we’re fighting and I want to start a new restaurant on my own (serving the same kind of […]

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Don’t get scammed

Dear Mary, Last year, my business paid to advertise in a sustainability magazine. I gave a credit card deposit for advertising design and placement within the publication. Unfortunately, we didn’t read the contract fully or ask enough questions before signing it. The magazine never came out and our ads never ran — but our credit […]

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The perils of a friend as a business partner

Dear Mary, My best friend and I are going to start a business together fixing other people’s computers. We’ve been friends for years — do we really need a partnership agreement? When you start a new business partnership, there’s a period of time when everything is exciting and nothing can go wrong. This honeymoon period […]

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Facebook is Forever

Dear Mary, I own a retail store in Napa and employ several sales associates. Some of my employees use the office computer when I’m away and get on Facebook. Recently one of them forgot to sign out and I looked through her profile and discovered that last week when she had called in sick, she […]

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How do you protect an idea?

I have an idea for a new business selling cookies made from my grandmother’s recipe. How can I find out if someone else is already selling cookies under the name I want to use? How can I protect my cookies — and my grandmother’s recipe? Ideas (and cookies) are very important to businesses. The law […]

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To spam or not to spam?

Dear Mary, I own a small bookstore and can’t afford to advertise. A few months ago I searched around the Internet for the e-mail addresses of people who I know like to read. Is it OK for me to e-mail them special offers?Politicians hate spam. In 2003, when their spam folders hit capacity, Congress responded with […]

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Employee or Not?

Dear Mary, I own a small clothing boutique here in Napa. I hired a student to work here part-time, but I’m not sure if I’m supposed to treat her as an employee. My friend says that it’s better to call her an independent contractor. Is he right? What’s the difference? The IRS loves this question. […]

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LLC–a good thing

Dear Mary, I just bought a taco truck and would someday like to turn it into a mobile catering empire. I used most of my savings to buy and fix up my taco truck, leaving me very little for legal fees. Do I really need to pay an attorney to turn me into a corporation? […]

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