Tag: LLC

Administrative Dissolution May Breach a Company’s Third-Party Contracts

Under Illinois law, corporations and limited liability companies (“LLCs”) are required to file annual registrations with the Illinois Secretary of State in order to maintain their entities in good standing.  Pursuant to the Limited Liability Company Act (the “LLC Act”), the Secretary of State may administratively dissolve an LLC if it fails to timely file its annual registration, mirroring the requirement imposed upon corporations in the Business Corporation Act (the “Corporation Act”).

If a company is administratively dissolved, the company will be reinstated upon the filing of the outstanding annual report(s) and an application for reinstatement, along with payment of all outstanding taxes and fees.  Upon reinstatement, the actions made by the company during the period of administrative dissolution are “ratified and confirmed” pursuant to the “relation-back” provisions of the LLC Act or the Corporation Act.

Recently, a provision of the LLC Act was examined by the Illinois Appellate Court in CF SBC Pledgor 1 2012-1 Trust v. Clark/School LLC, 2016 IL App (4th) 150568 (Sep. 8, 2016).  In this case, the Plaintiff, a Delaware mortgage trust, assumed a mortgage and security interest in an eight-building apartment complex which was owned by the defendant, Clark/School LLC.  Under the security agreement, the loan was made on the lender’s reliance of the Defendant mortgagor’s “continued existence” as an LLC, including “all things necessary to preserve and maintain [its] existence and to ensure its continuous right to carry on its business.”  The Defendant unfortunately failed to timely file its annual registration with the Illinois Secretary of State, ultimately leading to its administrative dissolution in December 2013.

Due to the Defendant’s administrative dissolution, the Plaintiff initiated a mortgage foreclosure action against the Defendant for failing to “preserve and maintain its existence” as an LLC.  The lower court determined, and the Illinois Appellate Court subsequently affirmed, that the Defendant committed an event of default by failing to maintain its status in good standing and held for the Plaintiff.  The Defendant unsuccessfully argued that the relation-back provision of the LLC Act prevented the Defendant from liability under the security agreement because it validated any actions that were taken from the date of the Defendant’s dissolution through the date of its reinstatement by the Secretary of State.

The predicament in CF SBC Pledgor was a novel issue under established Illinois LLC law; thus, the Illinois Appellate Court looked to precedent under the Corporation Act.  The relation-back application of the Corporation Act only pertained to ratification of the corporation’s actions; however, it did not automatically protect the corporation from possible breaches under third-party contracts.  Looking to the Corporation Act, the Court found that the relation-back provision will not “impose a legal fiction that belies actual real world facts.”

In that regard, a company cannot use the relation-back provision of its respective governing law in order to escape liability for committing a breach in a contractual agreement whereby the contracting party is relying upon the company to maintain its “continued existence” as a legal entity in good standing with the Secretary of State.

A company should pay prudent attention to its required filings and its obligations under its third-party contracts so as not to inadvertently breach such contracts.  Otherwise, as was the case in CF SBC Pledgor  the consequences may be harsh.

For more information on this topic or how you can protect your corporation or limited liability company, please contact:

Pamela Szelung at:

pszelung@lgattorneys.com or 312-368-0100.

Essential Legal Matters: What Foodservice Operators Must Know

As any foodservice operator knows, the food business is changing daily.  Margins are thin, competition is fierce and fickle consumer demand and constantly changing dietary fads create increased daily pressure on operators. There numerous legal issues you should consider to give you a leg up. 

Type of Business Entity 

While many food service companies may operate as sole proprietorships, it is always better to operate under the umbrella of a legal entity that will protect you as the owner from personal liability.  This is particularly so in the food service industry where you are feeding people (or distributing to those who do) and interacting with a multitude of guests and employees.  Typically, a corporation or limited liability company (LLC) is the way to go.  And if you open in more than one location or operate separate food service businesses, you would be well advised to set up a separate corporation of LLC for each operation; this way only one entity’s assets will be at risk in the event of a lawsuit.

Intellectual Property Rights

Nearly every food service business creates intellectual property, and these assets can be very valuable in the highly competitive foodservice industry, particularly when your business becomes successful.

One of the most commonly used methods of protecting your food service business intellectual property rights is obtaining trademark protection for any distinctive marks, emblems or symbols or form of words.  The protected mark must be something that distinguishes your business from others and be distinctive, i.e., not something generic like “great food.”  In order to obtain the right to use a trademark, an application must be filed with the United States Patent & Trademark Office.  Most businesses retain an attorney to file the application.

Another form of intellectual property common in the foodservice sector are copyrights.  The purpose of a copyright is to protect creative work and to grant authors the exclusive privilege to produce, create or display the work.  It may be possible to copyright a book containing recipes and sometimes even certain recipes themselves or the method or technique of preparation of food products.

Local Regulations

In addition to organizing a business entity and protecting intellectual property, food service operators need to obtain all appropriate permits and licenses.  The permitting and licensing process varies widely from state to state and even city to city and county to county.  Often local government offices can be a great resource for determining what type of licensing and permitting you will need for your business.  In addition, you will likely need additional licensing if you serve or distribute alcohol.  Your business may also be subject to food and safety health inspections.

Conclusion

With the foregoing in mind and, facing the legal side of the foodservice industry does not have to be a daunting task.

If you have any questions in this area, please contact:

Jonathan M. Weis at:

jweis@lgattorneys.com or 312-368-0100.

Want to Get a Photography Business Started in Illinois?

Levin Ginsburg attorney, Dean Tatooles, is an avid photographer and spends the majority of his free time with others that share his passion for photography. Many photographers, like Dean, are also professionals from a wide range of disciplines. Some of those professionals are interested in marketing and possibly selling their images. To that end, Dean is frequently asked how to get a photography business started up in Illinois. Although not all encompassing, below are a few tips for getting a photography business legally up and running.

First, you should determine what type of business entity you will use. In Illinois, the two most common types of business entities used by photographers are limited liability companies (“LLCs”) and corporations. An LLC provides a business structure that can combine “pass-through taxation” like a partnership, with the limited liability protection of a corporation. A corporation also provides for limited liability and can provide other tax benefits that an LLC cannot provide.

Then you should choose a name in which you desire to conduct your business. You could use your own name (“Jonathan Dough Photography”) or you may prefer to use a different name (“Sunshine Photography”). If you are incorporating or organizing an LLC, then you need to determine whether a particular business name is available. You can visit the Illinois Secretary of State’s name search website at http://www.ilsos.gov/corporatellc/. A desired business name must be recognizably different from others, which are already on-file. If you are operating as a general partnership or a sole proprietorship, then you need to check the county records where the business is located.

Once you have created a name for your business and have determined the type of business entity (we will presume you have elected to be either an LLC or a corporation), it is time to make the photography business official with the state of Illinois.

An LLC’s name in Illinois must end with the words “Limited Liability Company”, “L.L.C.”, or “LLC.” Similarly, any domestic corporation’s name in Illinois must include either “Corporation”, “Company”, “Incorporated”, “Limited”, or an abbreviation of any of these words. An LLC may be the easiest route to go as it does not have the extensive corporate formalities and requirements of a corporation but offers, among other things, the limited liability protection of a corporation.

Often times, photography businesses operate under a “trade name” after they are formed. If an entity conducts with a name other than the name officially registered with the Illinois Secretary of State, an “Assumed Business Name Registration” must also be filed with the Illinois Secretary of State.

There is no requirement to register a photography business with the Federal government; however, it must be registered with the Illinois Department of Revenue if business is conducted in Illinois, or with Illinois customers. Once registration is complete, a certificate of registration and State Tax ID Number will be issued. These documents also serve as the business’s sales tax permit, retailer permit, and/or wholesaler permit. You may also need to register with the city and county in which you do business.

Likewise, a Federal Tax ID Number or “FEIN” is required by the Federal government to identify a business entity and is necessary to open a bank account. A business seeking to obtain a FEIN can apply for one online here at http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Online.

As a final point, a photography business requires a significant investment of both time and money. Business insurance should be secured to help minimize the risks associated with running a business and against unexpected events that may occur. If a photography business has employees, business insurance, such as worker’s compensation insurance and unemployment insurance are required.

If you have specific questions about starting up your photography business, please do not hesitate to contact us:

Dean Tatooles at:

dtatooles@lgattorneys.com or 312-368-0100

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