LGC is proud to announce that partner Jill Chilcoat and associate Patrick Klingborg recently presented legal seminars at San Diego Startup Week. San Diego Startup Week is an annual event featuring educational seminars and competitions for the region’s entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and other people involved in the startup community. The total estimated attendance for all San Diego Startup Week events in 2017 was over 4,000 people.
Ms. Chilcoat and Mr. Klingborg presented a talk on the legal complexities surrounding the differences between independent contractors and employees. With the advent of the sharing economy, technology companies have been increasingly classifying their workers as independent contractors. Doing so allows companies to save an estimated 20-40% of labor costs according to the U.S. Department of Labor. In practice, however, workers are often misclassified as independent contractors and should instead be treated as employees. Worker misclassification is a significant liability risk. In the last six months, prominent startup companies Uber, Lyft, and Instacart have each agreed to pay multi-million dollar settlements to resolve worker misclassification suits. As a result, the best practice is for employers to carefully analyze classification issues prior to hiring workers.
In addition, Mr. Klingborg delivered a presentation on trademark issues. Trademarks are an important component of any company’s intellectual property portfolio because they enable the owner of the trademark to legally prevent others from using confusingly similar words, logos, or designs in the same market. Mr. Klingborg also served as a judge for San Diego Startup Week’s Green Pitch Slam Competition. The competition consisted of six environmental technology startups that competed with one another by demonstrating how their unique technologies and business models made them each attractive to outside investors. The winner of the competition was Icarus RT, which makes a patented technology that boosts the efficiency of solar panels.
For questions about employment issues, trademarks, or anything else pertaining to startups, please contact Jill Chilcoat or Patrick Klingborg in LGC’s San Diego office.