June 27, 2022

Volume XII, Number 178

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June 27, 2022

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Entrepreneurs of Color Receive Strategic Guidance

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, Black entrepreneurs faced significant challenges in launching and growing their businesses. Discrimination, unequal access to capital, and a lack of mentors in the community continually create obstacles for Black-owned start-ups and small companies, even beyond those faced by any other emerging business. Additional burdens related to the pandemic, such as government mandates and revenue losses due to shutdowns, put even more strain on these enterprising companies.

“Black entrepreneurs face unique challenges due to systemic racism, such as lack of generational wealth and access to capital, and lack of mentorship. COVID-19 reinforced these inequities, and Black-owned businesses were disproportionately denied COVID-19 financial assistance from government programs,” said Jennifer Nelson, chief executive officer of the San Diego Volunteer Lawyer Program (SDVLP), a nonprofit that provides pro bono legal services to low-income and other underserved populations.

To help Black business owners navigate challenges and position themselves to thrive during the outbreak, SDVLP teamed up with the Central San Diego Black Chamber of Commerce to co-host webinars on a range of business and legal issues in November 2020. Former Mintz attorney Paul Brockland and attorney Monique Macek, with former Mintz patent agent Julia Kottmeier, worked behind the scenes to help organize the events, which featured presentations by Mintz attorneys on a broad spectrum of legal issues.

The pro bono effort was an outgrowth of the San Diego Addressing Racial Inequality Group, a Mintz San Diego Office initiative launched after a police officer killed George Floyd in May 2020. The group focuses on pro bono community education and intellectual property services to minority-owned businesses, and engages in other pro bono activities, including mentoring minority students at the University of San Diego School of Law.

At the first webinar, “Common Issues Businesses Face During COVID-19,” attorney Joseph Dunn provided an overview of what small businesses should know about the bankruptcy process, joining speakers who covered legal issues related to commercial leasing, business operations, and state tax credits.

“It was gratifying to share specialized knowledge with those who otherwise may not be familiar with bankruptcy or have the resources to go out and hire someone to advise them,” Joe said.

At another webinar, “How to Grow Your Business During COVID-19,” several Mintz attorneys offered guidance, including attorney Fred Hernandez, who discussed patent, trademark, and copyright issues affecting small businesses. Other panelists included former Mintz attorney Sebastian Bacon, who discussed contracts and entity formation, and attorney Micha Danzig, who covered common employment law pitfalls that new companies face.

“We were honored to be able to provide guidance to members of minority communities that typically do not have a high percentage of business owners, thereby, hopefully giving them a greater chance of success,” Micha said.

To build on the success of the first webinars, the Mintz team is working with the Chamber on a comprehensive IP-focused webinar. Along with covering patents, licensing, and IP litigation, the attorneys will offer an in-depth review of trademarks and trade dress. Participants will also have the opportunity to meet with an attorney in a one-on-one breakout session to discuss their specific questions.

“It’s important to me that Mintz be part of the community beyond the standpoint of just servicing high-paying clients or big corporations,” Fred said. “The community is also the people who live there, including people of color who are underrepresented.”

©1994-2022 Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo, P.C. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume XII, Number 53
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About this Author

Fred Hernandez, Mintz Levin, patent prosecution attorney, intellectual property lawyer, strategic portfolio management legal counsel
Member

Fred focuses on patent counseling. He has significant experience collaborating with early-stage and emerging growth companies to manage their patent portfolios. Fred also has experience in managing large patent portfolios for Fortune 500 companies. In addition to working with medical device, aerospace, and mechanical companies, he serves clients in the consumer products sector, including the snow sports and water sports industries. Fred has repeatedly been recognized on Managing Intellectual Property’s list of IP Stars. He is dedicated to helping...

858-314-1518
Joseph R. Dunn, Member Chapter 11 Attorney, Mintz Levin, RELATED PRACTICES Bankruptcy & Restructuring Investment Funds Arbitration, Mediation, ADR Appellate Mergers & Acquisitions Insolvency & Creditor Rights Litigation Product Liability & Complex Tort
Member

Joe’s broad-ranging litigation and restructuring practice draws on his significant experience with complex creditor rights litigation, bankruptcy and corporate reorganization, and transactional work outside of insolvency. He has a long track record of successfully representing bankruptcy trustees and other fiduciaries, chapter 11 debtors, purchasers of distressed assets, franchisors, and equity holders. He is highly skilled at asset recovery, judgment enforcement, and litigation in the insolvency arena. Joe employs a holistic and economical approach to litigating matters in courts around...

858-314-1516
Micha "Mitch" Danzig, Patent Attorney, Mintz Levin, Trade Secrets Lawyer,Discrimination & Harassment Employment Litigation & Arbitration Employee Mobility & Trade Secrets Israel
Member

Micha is a versatile attorney who litigates employment, commercial, and trade secret disputes and counsels clients on matters in these areas. He handles cases and advises clients on non-compete agreements, protecting proprietary information, and wrongful termination, discrimination, and wage and hour claims, among other issues. Companies rely on his representation in court and before state and federal agencies, including the EEOC, DOJ, and similar California agencies. He also assists companies with workplace policies, investigations, and compliance — and he often performs management...

858-314-1502
Monique Winters Macek, Health, Medical Devices Lawyer, Mintz Levin, Patent Prosecution & Strategic Counseling Patent Opinions Patent Portfolio Strategy Patent Prosecution
Associate

Monique’s practice is focused on the areas of medical devices, systems, and methods.

Prior to joining Mintz Levin, Monique served as a patent agent for Grant Anderson, LLP; Tandem Diabetes Care, Inc.; and NuVasive, Inc. In these roles she participated in all aspects of patent applications and collaborated on patent strategy development and analysis. She has also worked as a patent agent and bio-mechanical engineer for Flex Partners, Inc. Her engineering work also revolved around medical devices such as cardiac ablation catheters, eye sensor...

858.314.1542
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