The Food Law Firm has distinct, institutional experience in working with food and supplement start-ups, and is acutely aware of just how precious start-up funds are. A start-up needs to identify priorities, but also sequence the efforts for max effect.
- Prioritize Trademarks and Branding. IP protection for food and supplement businesses can’t be overstated. A business without a good trademark registration, is simply not building a brand with any value. A thorough Availability Opinion is a top priority. An Availability Opinion will help to identify and presage potential issues with a trademark before the application is filled in. Trademark applications take anywhere between 75-150 days to get a review by a Trademark Examiner within the United States Patent and Trademark Office. If a trademark application gets through the review by the Examiner without any fatal issues, there is a solid chance that the brand can ultimately achieve registration. It is important to get a good application on-track, so that by the time production is underway, a green light is received from the Trademark Office Examiner. Estimated Attorney Time: 2 hours.
- Non-Disclosure Agreement. Once a trademark is underway, a new food start-up needs to be armed with a good non-disclosure agreement that helps facilitate conversations with future partners, like product formulators and manufacturers. Company principals also need to understand the limits of non-disclosure agreements and the nature of trade secrets. Estimated Attorney Time: 0.5 hours.
- Third Party Manufacturing. Whether launching a private label brand or a proprietary copacked brand, a start-up CEO needs to understand the laws related to third party manufacturing. Copack and private label manufacturing relationships are governed by the Uniform Commercial Code (the “UCC”), as they are essentially specialized purchase and sale transactions. As [discussed elsewhere], a basic understanding of the Uniform Commercial Code is an essential prerequisite to negotiating these agreements with a manufacturer. Whether reviewing a manufacturer’s agreement or drafting one for custom use, Estimated Attorney Time: 2 – 3 hours.
- Marketing and Labeling Regulations. FDA regulations affect every aspect of label design and marketing. In order to avoid having to constantly go back to the drawing board, it is crucial to involve a legal expert at every stage of food product marketing, from ideation to printing. A knowledgeable attorney can focus creative efforts in the direction of compliance. When final copy is generated, it should be good to go with no changes needed. Optimally, a joint workshop on the regulations would occur before creative gets to work, where regulatory guardrails are explained before the ideas are generated. Estimated Attorney Time: 2 hours.
Start-up priorities dovetail nicely with any one of the subscription plans found here. All of these essential startup items can be checked off over a 90 – 120 day time frame and quote a bespoke legal budget to the penny.