Boerema Blackton has built its practice by representing numerous businesses and their respective owners. The firm provides business-oriented legal advice for the entire corporate life cycle: from the initial structure of proposed business ventures, through the day-to-day transactions, and to the sale and/or purchase of businesses.
The firm acts as an outside general counsel for a number of clients, providing dedicated, responsive support with institutional knowledge of the client's business or situation. The business lawyers in our firm represent clients who conduct business on local, national, and international scales. We are committed to providing the best quality legal services to all of our clients, large and small, and have the breadth and depth of experience required to successfully guide clients through the most complex business transactions.
The firm's core competency is in organizing corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, nonprofits, and other business structures and counseling their founders, executives, and shareholders or members.
Industry experience with:
Software development and sales
- Business Law
- Intellectual Property
- Estate Planning
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- North Carolina
- 4th Circuit
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- Boerema Blackton LLP
- - Current
- Attorney, owner
- Blackton Law PLLC
- Law Clerk
- U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa
- University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill
- State Bar of North Carolina
- Q. Company is reselling my software I created can I do anything about it?
- A: You need to speak with an attorney licensed in your state who deals with intellectual property issues for more insight into your specific situation, but I can describe the legal principles in play here generally: Absent a written agreement addressing work for hire, you cannot stop your employer from using work produced within the scope of your employment, nor are you entitled to any additional payment. Many employees write blog posts, take pictures, write instructions or policies for their employers, among the many other tasks they were expressly hired to do. Perhaps you were hired as an I.T. support professional, but you’ve also become the unofficial photographer at company events. Work made for hire Any copyrightable work created by an employee acting within the scope of his or her employment is a “work made for hire.” The parties do not need to address works made for hire in their employment agreement or negotiations. Absent a written agreement to the contrary, an employer has full rights to any copyrightable work that was produced by the specific efforts for which an employee was hired and was being compensated – that is, a work produced within the scope of that person’s employment. The answer is different if you were an independent contractor instead of an employee (independent contractors retain the copyright in their work absent a written agreement to the contrary). The rest of this post assumes there is no written agreement between the employee and employer regarding work for hire or an assignment of interests in intellectual property developed by the employee: Within the scope of employment “Within the scope of employment” can be a bit tricky to determine. If you’re an I.T. support professional and you write some code, even at home, which helps you accomplish your job or improves your employer’s work flow, your employer is the likely owner of your creative expression of that work. If you’re an I.T. support professional and you have become the unofficial company photographer, your employer is the likely owner of the photographs you take which are related to your work (of employees, inside the office, of products listed for sale by your employer). If that same I.T. support professional does freelance wedding photography (and their employer’s business has nothing to do with the wedding industry), it’s not reasonable for the employer to expect the exclusive rights in the work produced by an employee acting outside the scope of their employment. An employer is not entitled to a benefit they never bargained for, and for which the employee is not being compensated, so the I.T. support professional almost certainly maintains their copyright interest in this situation. In the case of a work made for hire, copyright law provides that the author of the work is not the person whose individual creative efforts produced the work, but the party that employed or commissioned that person. As the author of the work made for hire, the employer or commissioning party owns the entire copyright, except if there is an express written agreement (likely an employment contract) to the contrary. If your employer owns the copyright to work that you produced, it can do with your work almost anything it would like. This certainly includes republishing it. No additional payment is required merely because you no longer work for your employer. What you're entitled to is going to depend highly on your employment contract and the description of your current position, as well as any communication you've had about the work with your employer. You need to consult with an attorney in your state for legal advice regarding your specific situation.
- Q. Can I register my new business name as an LLC if it's different from an incorporated company's name by only one letter?
- A: Your question can be answered a few ways: Will the North Carolina Secretary of State accept your LLC's articles of organization if the name differs by only one letter from another entity also registered in North Carolina? Yes, the NC Secretary of State will permit registration so long as the /exact/ legal name is not already taken by another entity registered to do business in NC, which includes consideration of capitalization, spacing, and punctuation. Will the trademark office accept a trademark application where one letter is different than a pre-existing trademark? Possibly, that depends on whether you're applying for the same class of goods and several other factors. Will you be exposed to a trademark infringement, dilution, or some similar lawsuit based on the similarity of names if your entity only differs by one letter? Possibly, the closer your industry to the existing rights-holder's industry, the more likely that rights-holder may have to send a demand letter or file a lawsuit to protect their brand. Trademarks can be thought of as a use-it-or-lose-it asset, if a trademark holder knowingly allows others to use their mark in the same industry, any eventual demand or lawsuit about trademark infringement will be significantly weakened. So, Apple computer is probably not going to sue Appel housecleaning service, but will probably have to sue Appel hardware manufacturing. You should talk with an attorney in your state with trademark and other business transactional experience before deciding on your new brand.
- Q. Should a POA be recorded in the NC county in which it was notarized or the county where I am presently residing in NC?
- A: This may depend on how the PoA will be used. If, for example, the PoA is granted to allow one spouse to purchase a residential home in Wake County in the names of both spouses, it would make sense to record the PoA in Wake County. Who is supposed to honor this PoA? Many businesses/professionals will refuse to honor old PoAs, considering them to have gone "stale." If you're using the PoA to accomplish a specific task, ask the person who will be honoring the PoA where they would like it recorded. If you're unsure who might be honoring the PoA, file it in the county of your residence.
- Q. Trademark / copyright question - little help needed.
- A: Attorneys on the Justia Ask a Lawyer board are generally restricted to providing general information about the law. Attorneys cannot provide specific legal advice without raising a host of potential ethical and malpractice issues, which is why you're unlikely to receive the answer you want. The most helpful response you're likely to receive here is, "you need to formally engage an attorney." It would make sense to look at which state's law governs that contract you're contemplating, then contact a few attorneys with experience in copyright and trademark law who are licensed in that state.
- Q. What can I do about my landlord placing the house that I'm currently living in online for rent without my knowledge
- A: That is going to depend on what your lease agreement says about this situation.
- Q. Home builder wants to give us 100k to pay off our current home to be able to purchase his new home.
- A: It's possible that this is not a scam; ensure you have your own attorney review all of the documents associated with the transaction.
- Q. What if a person filed an Limited liability company with the name of the business will they still need to file for DBA?
- A: A business should file a certificate of assumed name or d/b/a if the business is using a name /other/ than the name it has registered with the N.C. Secretary of State in organizing its LLC.
- Q. How do I start a Sole Proprietary Business in NC selling hand made goods?
- A: A sole proprietorship is a business owned by one person, which has little legal significance separate from its owner and usually requires no governmental filing except a fictitious-business-name statement, which discloses the name under which the business will be conducted and the owner's name and address. In North Carolina, this is known as a "certificate of assumed name" and must be filed with the register of deeds in the county or counties where the business operates. Although the sole proprietorship is probably the most prevalent form of small business in the U.S., it is often a poor choice because the owner has unlimited liability for the losses of the business, thereby putting all of the owner's personal assets at risk. Protecting personal assets is a major reason many people form corporations or LLCs with the Secretary of State. What liabilities are associated with starting a business? Many people think of slip and falls on the business premises or consumer goods causing personal injury to those who buy them, but there are many other types of risk associated with starting a commercial venture. A hand-made Darth Vader puppet, for example, may not carry a high risk of causing personal injury to consumers, but Disney could sue the maker for infringement of its intellectual property. If Disney sues a LLC, for example, they are likely limited to the assets of the LLC for payment and may not collect directly from the members if the LLC's assets are insufficient to pay debts/liabilities. Contact a NC-based attorney familiar with business formation and choice of entity issues for more information or assistance with organizing the appropriate business entity. Many attorneys, myself included, offer free consultations. Regardless of what type of business entity you determine is best for your situation, you should maintain a separate bank account for your business and avoid mixing your personal funds with that of your business; keep a separate set of books, apart from your personal financial records; and make clear in all contracts with others that they are dealing with a business, by signing them as [YOUR BUSINESS'S NAME], by [your personal name].
- Q. Is it legal for people to sell car manuals (from the car mfg.) on ebay, no one ever answers this question
- A: You haven't provided very many details regarding your situation: are you reproducing these car manuals? Are you interested in reselling physical copies you purchased from the car manufacturer? Research the "first sale doctrine" which may provide some insight into your question.