United States Patent & Trademark Office

The United States Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) is the federal agency that processes and issues trademarks and patents. The USPTO provides a good starting point to get familiar with trademark issues. For non-attorneys, the most helpful section may be under, Trademarks/Trademark Basics. The searches available on the site are basic and not as thorough as what attorneys conduct to clear your trademark.

California Secretary of State

The Business Programs section is a great resource to learn more about California corporations, LLCs and partnerships, including forms, filing fees and laws. Use an attorney to file your forms and draft the agreements necessary to complete the formation of your company.


If you’re unsure about the legal terminology you come across, try searching Wikipedia for easy-to-read explanations. While it’s a good place to start, note that the information is not always reliable.

U.S. Copyright Office

The U.S. Copyright Office’s site provides facts and forms relating to U.S. Copyright registration. You can apply for your own copyrights online at this site. Their informational circulars are very helpful: on their website, click on Publications to find them.

LA County Fictitious Business Name

Use this site to see if there’s anyone else in Los Angeles County (if that’s where your business is located) who might prevent you from using the business name you want. If someone is using the name you want, consider consulting an attorney to discuss your best options, which might include coming up with another name. Note that the data may not be current.

Los Angeles County City Business Tax Certificate

Go to this site if your business is located in the city of Los Angeles (only certain areas—see the site for more information) and click on “Apply for a Business Tax Registration Certificate”. This certificate is what people often call your “Business License”, and you need it to operate your business in certain areas of the city of Los Angeles. If you fail to get this Business Tax Registration Certificate, you may be liable for fees, fines and penalties.

County of Los Angeles

Go to this site for more information on doing business in Los Angeles County. Click on “Business” at the top of the homepage.

FTC Commercial Corp.

See this site if you need to finance the cost of apparel or accessories you are having made overseas and are shipping to the U.S. FTC is a “factor” in the fashion business, which means that they help secure their clients’ credit needs by providing loans generally to help clients pay for the importation of large quantities of inventory via overseas shipments.


This is the creator and keeper of UPC bar codes. You can visit their site to obtain bar codes for your products, bar codes that are now frequently required by many retailers.


See the FDA’s website to learn more about important product labeling requirements. Popular subjects to search are listed to the upper left corner. Some of my clients are in the cosmetics business. If you are, you may find the Cosmetics section useful.


See this site for information about motion pictures, television programs, actors, directors, producers, and other above-the-line and below-the-line talent.

Just for Fun Links:

Rotten Tomatoes

I use this website before going out to see a movie. They average the opinions of critics across the country to come up with a percentage rating for each movie, from 0% to 100%, with 100% being the highest rating. You can also use this site to look for reviews from your favorite reviewers, and find showtimes, all in one place.

Trip Advisor

I use this site to read hotel reviews and top things to do before taking off to a new destination. It’s good to know what , recent visitors to a hotel or city have to say in no-nonsense terms.


When I want to get someone a gift, I go to this site for unique handmade jewelry and other items. When I make purchases on this site, I am supporting a community of creative artisans around the world.
Note: I do not receive any compensation for providing any of the above links.
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