To operate legally, every business, big and small, must obtain the proper licenses, permits and government approvals. The requirements for these licenses, permits and approvals can vary with the type of business and the location of the business. Requirements can exist at the federal, state or local government level, at all three levels, or at just some levels. More than one government agency may play a role in licensing and regulating the business. Failing to be aware of requirements by industry, across levels of government, and by locality could have substantial detrimental effects on your business, such as fines, tax penalties or even closing your doors.
Most business licenses are issued by state or local governments. The Colorado Department of Regulatory Agencies (“DORA”) oversees and regulates 135 industries that include electrical contractors, real estate brokers and children’s activity buses. Pet groomers, on the other hand, are regulated by the Colorado Department of Agriculture. Car dealerships are regulated by the Colorado Department of Revenue, and health facilities by the Department of Public Health and Environment. Liquor licenses can be issued at the state and local level. Your intellectual property rights might be best protected at the federal level.
With this multitude of layers and players, it is important that you understand your business’ governing authority or authorities, relevant regulatory requirements, and protections available to you so your license or permit is approved as quickly as possible, you do not risk unnecessary delays or fines or other penalties, and your business interests have received the best possible protection.
The experienced business attorney can assist you and your business throughout the licensing, permitting and approval processes to help ensure you are aware of and in compliance with requirements that will get your business up and running as quickly as possible. They can advise you whether you’re applying for a new license, transferring a license or permit, or responding to issues associated with maintaining your business license.
The Colorado Liquor Enforcement Division issues licenses to businesses for the manufacture or sale of alcohol, as well as consumption permits to businesses and individuals for special events. Applying for a liquor license can entail background investigations, public hearings before the local licensing authorities where applicants demonstrate the local community’s “need and desire” for the liquor license, and establishing the applicant’s good character for possessing such a license. All of these can potentially be in the face of community opposition. Once licensed, failure to comply with state and local law with respect to alcohol can have serious repercussions. You or your business may be subject to state-levied fines or revocation of the liquor license. The attorneys at Robinson & Henry can advise you on the process for acquiring and maintaining a liquor license and complying with state enforcement laws.
With the passage of Amendment 64 in November 2012, Colorado became one of the first states in the nation to permit recreational sales of marijuana. The Colorado Marijuana Enforcement Division oversees the licensing of both medical and retail marijuana businesses. Because marijuana is still illegal under federal law, it is important that you are cognizant of the full implications of a marijuana business such as the impact on taxation, real estate or insurance. In addition to advising your business on obtaining a marijuana license, the diverse range of experiences among the attorneys at Robinson & Henry can help you to understand the full picture of this growing and uncharted industry.
Health Care Facilities
All health facilities in Colorado must be licensed through the Department of Public Health and Environment. For example, if you want to become a service agency for developmentally disabled adults, Colorado law requires a licensure process that involves applications, inspections, and policies and procedures for your business. In addition to state-mandated licensing processes, health care facilities can also become certified through the Medicaid and Medicare programs, allowing providers to bill for reimbursement. Our attorneys can advise throughout the health care facility licensing process as to both state and federal regulations and requirements.
The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency monitors the goods that travel in and out of the country. Certain items, such as food products, prescription medication or name-brand articles, may require specific import licenses and permits. The attorneys at Robinson & Henry can also advise you on this and the process for becoming a licensed customs broker, enabling you or your business to clear goods with the Customs and Border Protection agency on behalf of other importers.
Service Mark, Trademark, Trade Name and Copyright
Protecting your business’ brand identity and intellectual property is essential to the long-term success of your business. Federal law provides the basis for most intellectual property protection and regulations, but state laws also provide some protection, particularly in regard to unfair business practices or consumer protection laws.
Service Marks and Trademarks refer to any word, name, symbol, device, or combination thereof that is used by a person or a business to identify and distinguish specific services and goods and the source of those services and goods. As an example, when you see the “swoosh” on a pair of shoes, you know that those shoes are manufactured by Nike and are distinct from any competitors’ shoes. Similarly, trade names are used to identify a specific business or vocation. Most anything can be a service mark, trademark or trade name so long as it distinguishes the source of the good or service. You can assert trademark rights in a word, symbol, name, etc. without registration, but a valid registration with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office provides stronger rights to business owners in enforcing their mark and preventing its unauthorized or unlawful use.
A copyright is a protection for “original works of authorship fixed in any tangible medium of expression.” Copyright protection can extend to literature, music, dramatic performances, choreography, photography, motion pictures and more. Unlike trademark protection, a copyright must typically be registered with the government before the copyright owner can file a lawsuit for infringement. Learn more about what copyright infringement is and what to do about it here.
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Robinson & Henry can help you or your business navigate the various avenues for intellectual property protection. Our experienced attorneys can provide advice on local and federal registration procedures, and on benefits, costs and potentially conflicting registrations, in order to help you determine how best to protect your brand identity and other intellectual property.
The areas listed above provide just a sample of the types of business and licensing issues that our clients have faced. Robinson & Henry can provide a wide range of advice, consultation, representation, or other services so that your business can quickly and successfully obtain, as well as maintain, complete government licensing, permitting or approval.
Our attorneys are well-prepared to handle all of your questions associated with government licenses and permits, as well as any other challenge facing your business. Call us at 303-688-0944 to set up a free consultation with one of our knowledgeable business attorneys.