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MEDC Legal Essentials

Remember, exporting products and services from the United States is a privilege where ignorance is not a plausible defense and failure to comply with laws can have serious financial and even criminal penalties. below are resources to consider when exporting.

Protect Your Intellectual Property

Companies planning to export to a foreign country should seek registration of their trademark and patent protection in that country. Failing to do so can result in losing rights in that country. Click here for more information.

Understand Export Control

U.S. exporters must determine whether an export license is required to ship product to a particular foreign country and customer. Failure to comply with export control regulations can result in heavy fines and possible jail time. For more information, click here.

Select the Right Trade Partner & Understand How Foreign Law Affects Relationships

Full understanding of intended trade partners may prevent hardships caused by failure to comply with strict export prohibition, special licensing, or other requirements or restrictions. U.S. States law is not the only factor in international trade agreements, and the foreign law surrounding a trade relationship should also be obeyed. For more information, click here.

Comply with Foreign Regulations, Certifications, & Registrations

Determine what foreign regulations, certifications or registrations apply to the product or service. Failure to comply may lead to penalties in the country with which you are trading. Click here for more information.

Use Specifically Drafted Contracts

Risks and rewards of doing business in a foreign country vary by country, industry, local law and other factors. Do not be penny wise and pound foolish. Use a tailored contract to ensure compliance. Click here for more information.

Calculate Tax Implications of the Transaction

Tax implications can change the structure of how one intends to do business. Incorporating a local subsidiary may sometimes decrease the foreign tax burden in some countries. Also, certain transactions may result in additional U.S. tax filings.  Click here for more information.

Recognize that U.S. Laws can Follow Your Product & Conduct Abroad

U.S. laws and their effect on U.S. company products do not end at the border. Export control laws can affect re-export of products, and the U.S. Corrupt Foreign Practices Act applies to the conduct of U.S. persons even beyond U.S. borders. For more information, click here.

Consultant MEDC-International Trade

Hiring an Experienced Attorney

Even though there is a great deal of information about exporting law online, trying to be your own attorney or hiring a general practitioner may not be in your best interest, nor your least expensive option. Remember that part of the reason you hire a lawyer is for their strategic advice and technical skills they have. Below are some suggestions on how to find and interview a lawyer for your export work.

How to find an attorney:

  • Personal referrals from others who are exporting
  • Check with your District Export Council, MEDC, SBDC or other business resource
  • Google if you have no other references to use, but due diligence becomes even more important if this is your option

Initial vetting of your attorney list:

  • Check the attorney's web bio and LinkedIn pages
  • Read and review articles or presentations the attorney has given on export topics that are of interest to you

Interviewing – it's important that you trust any professional you hire, and feel that you can communicate well. Ask about:

  • The attorney's experience, for example, how many companies' trademarks they've helped protect in foreign countries
  • The attorney's process for addressing export questions similar to yours
  • How long it has been since the attorney handled a similar matter
  • Their communication process; that is, how quickly they respond, how they bill, and what the estimate is for the work