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Starting a global company may be easier than ever before thanks to the internet and the fact that just about every regulation in every country can be found online. However, navigating all those rules and regs is not for the uninitiated.
Just about any company these days can enter the global market. But to be competitive, it takes more than just a good idea, a website, and international shipping. One of the most important team members to get on board before going global is a general counsel.
As a GC, to help keep your company out of foreign trouble, you need to be aware of the changing landscape of the global regulations for your industry. It certainly doesn't hurt to be familiar with international arbitration agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and for those companies dealing with international IP issues, getting that PCT application on file. The more you know about international business laws, the better equipped you'll be to advise your company and retain the right local counsel to handle your matters across the globe.
When a company seeks to expand into the global market, it is advisable to have a GC or deputy/associate GC that is knowledgeable and experienced to advise the company on the legal issues common to the nations where it will be operating, or at least selling and delivering. Sometimes, the issues can be rather nuanced and particular to a single nation, or it could be regional, such as regulations aimed at the European Union.
For example, next year, the EU will be implementing the General Data Protection Regulations, which will require any company that holds EU consumers' data to meet and prove that the company is taking the necessary precautions to safeguard the data. An U.S. company that operates or sells in the EU may very well be subject to the GDPR regulations, and can end up facing legal trouble in the EU if it fails to abide.
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