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Recent Amendment to Delaware General Corporation Law 07/06/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Legal Developments, Public Companies.
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By Joe Marrow

Corporate Attorney Joseph MarrowAs expected, on June 24, 2015, Delaware Governor Jack Markell signed into law legislation amending the Delaware General Corporation Law (DGCL) that will (1) prohibit “fee shifting” provisions in corporate “charter documents” (certificate of incorporation and by-laws) and (2) permit the use of forum selection clauses in charter documents.  The amendments become effective August 1, 2015.

The prohibition against “fee shifting” provisions was adopted in response to the Delaware Supreme Court’s 2014 decision in ATP Tour, Inc. v. Deutscher Tennis Bund (ATP Tour).  In ATP Tour, the Delaware Supreme Court upheld a by-law provision that required that a party suing a nonstock corporation must pay attorneys’ fees and other costs related to intracorporate litigation.  As a result of the ATP Tour decision, many Delaware stock corporations adopted “fee shifting” provisions in by-laws.  The legislation amending the DGCL prohibits the use of “fee shifting” provisions in the charter documents of Delaware stock corporations (the new legislation does not impact the use of such provision in nonstock corporations).  New DGCL Section 109(f) provides that a certificate of incorporation may not contain any provision imposing liability on a stockholder for the attorneys’ fees or costs of any other party in connection with an “internal corporate claim.”  Similarly, new DGCL Section 109(b) provides for the same prohibition in by-laws.  New DGCL Section 115 defines internal corporate claims as “claims, including claims in the right of the corporation, (i) that are based upon a violation of a duty by a current or former director or officer or stockholder in such capacity, or (ii) as to which this title confers jurisdiction upon the Court of Chancery.”  The amendment to the DGCL does not prohibit privately-negotiated contractual fee-shifting provisions (i.e., as contained in a stockholders agreement).

In an effort to limit litigation filed in multiple jurisdictions, many Delaware corporations have adopted forum selection clauses in their charter documents.  These clauses require that litigation asserting “internal corporate claims” may be brought exclusively in Delaware courts.  The new legislation codifies the Delaware Chancery Court’s holding in Boilermakers Local 154 Retirement Fund v. Chevron Corporation in which the court upheld the validity of a Delaware corporation’s adoption of a forum selection clause in its corporate by-laws.  New DGCL Section 115 authorizes Delaware charter documents to require that “internal corporate claims” be brought exclusively in Delaware courts.  The amendment to the DGCL does not prohibit Delaware corporations from selecting a forum other than Delaware as an additional forum to hear internal corporate claims.  In addition, the new legislation does not prohibit parties from privately contracting for the selection of a forum outside of Delaware as an exclusive forum to hear such disputes.

Delaware corporations should carefully review existing charter documents to determine if amendments are warranted by the new legislation.

Any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to contact Joe Marrow.

MBBP’s Joe Martinez to Discuss Fundamentals of Raising Start-Up Capital Through the Internet – Upcoming MCLE Program 06/12/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Events, Public Companies.
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Corporate Attorney Joseph MartinezMBBP Corporate Attorney Joseph R. Martinez will be among the faculty presenting at MCLE New England‘s upcoming program “Fundamentals of Raising Start-Up Capital Through the Internet” on Thursday, June 18th from 8:00 am to 12:00 pm.

In this new program, leading practitioners in the field will analyze the legal and business points of internet-based fundraising in a small, highly-focused, fast-paced conversational setting.

To learn more or to register for this event, please visit MCLE.

For more information, please feel free to contact Joe Martinez directly.

MBBP Clients Among BBJ’s Honorees – “Best Places to Work of 2015″ 05/04/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Computer Software & Hardware, Events, Industries, Internet and E-Commerce, Public Companies.
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2015-04-30_15-23-12On Thursday, April 30th, the Boston Business Journal announced the 80 honorees for its annual Best Places to Work of 2015 program. This year’s employers were divided among five different categories based on company size, and were selected based on survey responses provided by employees. The BBJ will recognize this year’s honorees on June 18th at the Citi Performing Arts Center.

Among the 80 nominees, are several MBBP clients:

Congratulations to all! View the full list of “Best Places to Work of 2015“.

Employment Law Update: Proposed Sick Leave Regulations 04/30/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Employment, Legal Developments, New Resources, Public Companies.
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As we previously advised clients, on November 4 Massachusetts voters approved a ballot measure entitling employees to earned sick leave, which goes into effect on July 1, 2015. The Massachusetts Attorney General recently issued proposed regulations on the application and enforcement of the new law.

To learn more about the MA Sick Leave Law or the proposed regulations, please visit our Employment Law blog.

MBBP to Sponsor Upcoming TiE Startup Con 04/28/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Events, M&A, MBBP news, Nonprofit, Public Companies, Telecommunications & Networking, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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2015-04-23_9-30-48MBBP is proud to sponsor TiE Startup Con, taking place at the Cambridge Marriott on Friday, May 1st. The Indus Entrepreneurs (TiE) is a non-profit, global community supporting entrepreneurs all over the world by offering education, mentorship, networking, and funding opportunities. TiE’s upcoming conference seeks to help early-stage entrepreneurs along their journey to launch and build their own companies. It will provide several companies with the opportunity to negotiate with some of Boston’s top angel investors for access to valuable capital. With upwards of 600 annual attendees, the conference boasts three tracks focusing on the “Entrepreneur’s Journey”, “Tales from the Start-up Trenches”, along with traditional insight into “What’s Hot in Tech and Pharma in 2015″.

Find out what all the excitement is about, learn more and register for TiE Startup Con!

Team Wine or Team Tequila? Upcoming TUGG 9th Annual Tech Charity Wine and Tequila Party 04/13/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Clean Tech, Events, Industries, Life Sciences, MBBP news, Nonprofit, Public Companies, Telecommunications & Networking, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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2015-04-13_8-13-29On Thursday, April 16th, MBBP will be sponsoring the TUGG 9th Annual Wine and Tequila Party. Join 1,500+ of Boston tech’s entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and philanthropists as we raise $400K+ to support six local nonprofits, while enjoying top-shelf wine and tequila. The non profits at this year’s party will consist of three returning favorites from the TUGG portfolio, and three new and promising ones. Meet and mingle with representatives from these nonprofits and hear their stories during the event. Then cast your votes for your favorite returning and your favorite new nonprofit. The winning non profit will be awarded up to $50,000. 

 

Don’s miss out! Learn more and register for the TUGG 9th Annual Wine and Tequila Party.

MBBP Clients Named 2015 MITX Awards Finalists 04/09/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Clean Tech, Client News, Events, Internet and E-Commerce, Public Companies, Publishing & Media, Telecommunications & Networking.
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2015-04-09_13-16-10On Wednesday, April 8th, the Massachusetts Innovation & Technology Exchange announced the finalists for the 2015 MITX Awards. The MITX Awards is the largest and most prestigious annual awards competition in the country for digital marketing and technology innovation, bringing together 1,200 of the best and brightest minds in the digital media, marketing and technology industry. The awards ceremony will take place on Thursday, May 14th, 2015 at the Marriott Copley.

Among this year’s finalists, are several MBBP clients:

Forge Worldwide
Yottaa
Mullen Advertising, Inc.
LogMeIn
Nanigans
Interactions, Corp.

Congratulations to all! To see the full list of finalists, please visit MITX.

MBBP Attorney to Present Upcoming myLawCLE Program 04/09/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Attorney News, Corporate, Events, Legal Developments, Licensing & Strategic Alliances, M&A, MBBP news, Public Companies.
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Corporate Attorney Mark TaralloOn Monday, April 13th, MBBP Attorney Mark Tarallo will be presenting myLawCLE’s “Basic LCCs 101″. The goal of the program is to provide course participants with a basic understanding of limited liability companies.

The course will discuss a wide range of information regarding limited liabilities companies, including:

  • What is an LLC?
  • Comparison of LLCs with other entities-Liability, Taxes, and Other Issues
  • Formation of the LLC
  • When to Use and Avoid the LLC
  • Drafting the Operating Agreement-Key Provisions
  • Ethical Issues in Representing the LLC

Any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to contact Attorney Mark Tarallo directly.

To register for this event, please see the myLawCLE events page.

NLRB Says It’s Unlawful for Employers to Prohibit Defamatory or Inappropriate Comments by Employees 03/31/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Employment, New Resources, Public Companies.
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2015-01-05_8-57-41On March 18th, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) released some valuable guidance on language employers should and should not consider including in their employee handbooks. Given the broad reach of the recent handbook rulings, and the many policies to which these decisions may apply, all employers should review their handbooks and relevant policies for compliance with the NLRA.

Please see this month’s Employment Law Alert to learn more.

Feel free to contact any member of our Employment Law Group with any questions.

MBBP Client OtoSense Earns Top Award at GSMA Global Mobile Awards 03/12/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Clean Tech, Client News, Computer Software & Hardware, Intellectual Property, Manufacturing, Retail & Service, New Resources, Public Companies.
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2015-03-12_9-40-31MBBP client OtoSense, a Cambridge-based start-up, has recently been recognized for its sound recognition technology. The company has developed an app that enables hearing impaired end users to select various traditional sounds such as bells, alarms, timers, etc. that occur within an everyday environment and then identify such sounds as they occur and alert the end user via non-acoustic means such as flashes, vibrations or text messages. Selected out of more than 800 entries and judged by a panel of international experts, the start-up won the “Best Mobile App of the Year” Global Mobile Award, in the category of Accessibility & Inclusion, at the 20th annual GSMA Global Mobile Awards.

Well done, OtoSense!

You can view a full list of 2015 Global Mobile Award winners here.

United States Completes Hague Agreement Deposit For Industrial Designs   03/10/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Intellectual Property, Legal Developments, New Resources, Public Companies.
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chalvireBy: Stan Chalvire 

Currently, design patent applicants that wish to pursue international protection for their industrial designs must file a design patent application in each country, and such applications must generally be filed within six months of the date of the earliest filed design patent application.  That is about to change with the United States having recently deposited its instrument of ratification to the Geneva Act of the Hague Agreement Concerning the International Registration of Industrial Designs (the “Hague Agreement”), marking the final step in the process of the United States becoming a member of the Hague Union.  The Hague Agreement establishes an international registration system which facilitates the protection of industrial designs in member countries by way of a single international design patent application that can be filed either directly with the International Bureau of the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) or indirectly though the applicant’s member country.

When the Hague Agreement enters into effect for the United States on May 13, 2015, applicants will have the opportunity to register up to 100 industrial designs in over 64 territories with the filing of a single standardized international design patent application, thus providing applicants the opportunity for increased filing efficiencies and potential costs savings as they pursue international protecting of their industrial designs.

 

Additional information on this topic can be found on our blog, or feel free contact Stan Chalvire directly.

An Overview of Rule 10b5-1 Trading Plans 03/05/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in New Resources, Public Companies.
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By: Joe Marrow

Corporate Attorney Joseph MarrowOfficers, directors and other insiders (“Company Insiders”) of publicly-traded companies use Rule 10b5-1 Trading Plans (a “10b5-1 Plan”) to buy and sell company stock at predetermined times so that such trading activity may occur regardless of whether the Company Insider is privy to material nonpublic information at the time of the trade.  The SEC introduced 10b5-1 Plans in 2000 to permit Company Insiders to adopt a written trading plan to buy and sell company stock.  A 10b5-1 Plan is generally structured as a contract between a Company Insider and his or her broker.  The Company Insider must adopt the 10b5-1 Plan at a time when the Company Insider is not in possession of material non-public information.  A 10b5-1 Plan must meet several requirements:

  • It must be adopted when the Company Insider is not in possession of material non-public information;
  • It must specify the amount of shares to be traded, the price at which the shares are to be traded (which can include a range of prices and a limit price) and specific dates of the trades, or alternatively, it can provide a formula for determining the amount, price and dates; and
  • It must delegate to the broker the sole right to exercise control over the trading activity as long as the broker does not have knowledge of material non-public information at the time of the trade.

If the 10b5-1 Plan has been properly adopted, it provides the Company Insider with an affirmative defense to illegal insider trading and a means for discretionary selling.  Not all public companies allow 10b5-1 Plans; however, many public companies consider such plans an effective method of dealing with concerns raised by the public regarding trading by Company Insiders.  In considering whether to allow the adoption of such plans, companies should consider the following best practices that have developed surrounding 10b5-1 Plans:

  1. After adoption of the 10b5-1 Plan, but prior to allowing trading, the 10b5-1 Plan should establish a waiting period (30 to 90 days) before trading activity may commence;
  1. A public company should establish a policy only permitting adoption of a 10b5-1 Plan when a Company Insider is not aware of material nonpublic information (i.e., an open window);
  1. A public company should consider a minimum duration pursuant to which a 10b5-1 Plan must be kept in place (six months to two years to avoid market timing and to avoid risk to the Company Insider) or otherwise require preapproval of a cancellation of such 10b5-1 Plan (or require that such 10b5-1 Plan be terminated during an open trading window) to avoid allegations of bad faith;
  1. A public company should carefully consider whether to publicly announce the establishment of a 10b5-1 Plan – the markets will become aware of it in connection with ordinary course Section 16 filings so there may be a public relations benefit to announcing the 10b5-1 Plan at the time of its adoption; and
  1. A public company should consider implementing general oversight of 10b5-1 Plans by company counsel or a compliance officer.

Well constructed 10b5-1 Plans and corporate policies surrounding such plans can be effective tools to avoid and combat insider trading claims.  Careful consideration should be given prior to permitting the use of 10b5-1 Plans and in implementing corporate governance policies related to such plans.

Any questions regarding this topic, please feel free to contact Joe Marrow.

Upcoming Boston IE Club Panel at Venture Cafe 03/05/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Events, Legal Developments, New Resources, Public Companies.
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2015-03-03_10-20-57On Wednesday March 11, 2015, Innovation & Enterprise Business Club (The IE Club) will host an event entitled “Successful Partnerships Between Large And Small Companies Building Great Success With… Very Different Teams Working Together: How To Make It Work”. The panel will feature several CEOs of small companies sharing their views of company best practices, as well as practices to avoid (internet/enablers/innovative services). This event will be held at the Venture Cafe at the Cambridge Innovation Center from 5:30 pm – 8:00 pm, and is complimentary.

Moderator:

David Feinberg, Esq. Feinberg Hanson LLP

Panel:

Robert Kalocsai, Founder, Software Continuity
Bernard Haurie, General Manager, Geopost
Ann Halford, Executive Director of Digital Technology, Boston University
Daniel Behr, CEO at Slips Technologies

 

MBBP’s Robert M. Finkel is a board member of IE Club of Boston. To learn more or to register for the event, please visit The IE Club.

Insights on Corporate Venture Capital 03/04/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Legal Developments, New Resources, Public Companies, Venture Capital & Private Equity.
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Corporate Attorney Scott BleierLast week, MBBP’s Scott Bleier attended a panel discussion hosted by the Johnson & Johnson Boston Innovation Center, which featured three corporate venture capitalists from Sanofi-Genzyme Bioventures, Boehringer Ingelheim Venture USA Inc. and Johnson & Johnson Development Corp.  In a very informative and candid discussion, the panelists shared the investment philosophies behind their companies’ CVC funds, what issues they consider when making an investment and their insights for start-ups seeking access to CVC funding.  The panel revealed several points of apparent consensus in the CVC community while also highlighting a divergence of philosophical approach in certain important areas.

To learn more about the panel discussion regarding CVC funds, please visit our VCs and Start-Ups blog.

Forging Successful Strategic Alliances for Life Sciences Companies 02/25/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Licensing & Strategic Alliances, Life Sciences, M&A, New Resources, Public Companies.
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M0744200When entering into an exclusive licensing arrangement, the odds of success are against most companies. Typically within the first twelve months of an arrangement, 2/3 of all alliances crumble.  If these ventures are so prone to failure, what preventative measures can a company employ to ensure success?

To learn how to achieve success when entering an alliance, read John Hession’s full article.

MBBP Client Demiurge Studios Acquired by SEGA Networks 02/20/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Computer Software & Hardware, Games & Interactive Entertainment, Intellectual Property, Legal Developments, Licensing & Strategic Alliances, New Resources, Public Companies, Publishing & Media.
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2015-02-19_10-29-40MBBP Client Demiurge Studios, an independent game developer out of Cambridge, Massachusetts, has been acquired by SEGA Networks, a multinational video game developer, publisher, and hardware development company. Founded in 2002, Demiurge Studios made the transition into mobile gaming in 2008 and found success with Marvel® Puzzle Quest™, a top 100 grossing app on the App Store and top 50 grossing apps on Google Play. Previously, they worked with world-class developers like BioWare™ and Irrational Games™ on AAA console and PC games, contributing to titles such as BioshockBorderlands, and Mass Effect. Demiurge Studios will continue to make games under the Demiurge Studios name.

Morse, Barnes-Brown & Pendleton serves as counsel to Demiurge Studios, and advised it in connection with the structuring, negotiation and documentation of this transaction.

Joe Martinez was the lead corporate attorney on MBBP’s team, which also included attorneys Mike Cavaretta, Diana Española and Hillary Peterson.

To learn more, read the full press release.

Insider Trading Prosecutions Going Forward: The Fallout from Newman 02/06/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Legal Developments, New Resources, Public Companies.
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Corporate Attorney Mark TaralloBy: Mark Tarallo 

In its recent decision in United States vs. Newman, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals imposed a significant burden on prosecutors bringing insider trading cases.  The Court articulated that in an insider trading case, the prosecution must prove that:

  • the corporate insider was entrusted with a fiduciary duty
  • the corporate insider breached his fiduciary duty by (a) disclosing confidential information to a tippee (b) in exchange for a personal benefit;
  • the tippee knew of the tipper’s breach, that is, he knew the information was confidential and divulged for personal benefit; and
  • the tippee still used that information to trade in a security or tip another individual for personal benefit.

The ruling makes it difficult, if not impossible, to prosecute remote tipees, who learn the insider information from someone other than the corporate insider who makes the original disclosure of confidential information.  Given how difficult this standard will be to meet, it is not surprising that the prosecution has appealed the decision.  US Attorney Preet Bharara’s office has both asked the three judge panel that issued the Newman opinion to rehear the case, and has requested that the entire US Second Circuit Court of Appeals to review the case en banc.   A narrowing or reversal of the Newman ruling is critical to the efforts of prosecutors to continue to bring insider trading cases.

The Newman ruling has already had a negative impact on recent cases.  A federal judge sitting in the U.S. District Court in Manhattan vacated the guilty pleas of four men charged with insider trading relating to IBM.  Citing Newman as controlling law, Judge Andrew Carter ruled that the guilty pleas must be vacated based on the new standards for insider trading (although he did not go as far as dismissing the charges outright).

For additional information on this topic, please feel free to contact Mark Tarallo.

MBBP Client Forge Worldwide Wins “Sweet” Partnership with Friendly’s 02/05/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Client News, Industries, Internet and E-Commerce, Public Companies, Publishing & Media, Telecommunications & Networking.
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forgelogoMBBP would like to congratulate client Forge Worldwide, a Boston-based advertising agency, for winning a partnership with Friendly’s Ice Cream.  Forge Worldwide will now oversee all television, radio, print and out-of-home advertising for Friendly’s as well as provide support to the Friendly’s team as it focuses on its re-brand and resurgence in core markets. Some other clients Forge Worldwide works with include Cisco, Rockland Trust, Brigham and Women’s Hospital, and Dragon Speech Recognition Software.

 

You can read the full announcement here.

Well done, Forge Worldwide!

Reminder: Schedule 13G Amendments and Forms 5 due February 17, 2015 02/05/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Legal Developments, New Resources, Public Companies.
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Corporate Attorney Daniele Ouellette LevyBy: Daniele Ouellette Levy

Significant stockholders of public companies have ongoing reporting obligations under Sections 13 and 16 of the ’34 Act.

  • Beneficial owners of greater than 5% of a registered class of stock of a public company must disclose their ownership by filing a Schedule 13D. Certain stockholders may instead file the abbreviated Schedule 13G provided their ownership does not exceed 20% and they meet certain other requirements.
  • Owners of greater than 10% of a registered class of stock of a public company must disclose all transactions in company securities under Section 16 within two business days of the transaction. Reporting of certain transactions – such as gifts – may be delayed until the end of each calendar year and reported on Form 5.

Amendments to Schedule 13G and Forms 5 are due on February 17, 2015 (45 days after the end of the calendar year, plus a few extra days due to the President’s Day holiday).  These filings are required in order to disclose any changes in ownership during the past year or any transactions in company securities during the past year which were not previously disclosed.

Keep in mind that while changes in ownership may result from actions at the company level – such as option vesting or option grants – the obligation to make these filings is the responsibility of the individual stockholder.

For help determining whether you are required to submit a filing please contact Daniele Levy.

Action Item for Smaller Reporting Companies – Update Review of Internal Controls to COSO 2013 01/29/2015

Posted by Morse, Barnes-Brown Pendleton in Corporate, Legal Developments, New Resources, Public Companies.
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Corporate Attorney Daniele Ouellette LevyBy: Daniele Ouellette Levy 

In response to the requirements of SOX 404, a majority of public companies adopted the 1992 framework prepare by the Committee of Sponsoring Organizations of the Treadway Commission (COSO) to assess the design and effectiveness of their internal controls over financial reporting.  Effective as of December 14, 2014, COSO no longer makes the 1992 framework available and encourages public companies to transition to its revised framework – COSO 2013.

Public companies are required, on an annual basis, to evaluate the effectiveness of their internal controls over financial reporting and to disclose in their 10-K the results of such evaluation and the framework used to make such evaluation.  Public companies must also disclose any material changes to internal controls – for example changes resulting from a transition to COSO 2013.

Companies who delay the transition to COSO 2013 face the risk of increased scrutiny by the SEC.  In a recent public meeting, the SEC staff stated “the longer issuers continue to use the 1992 framework, the more likely they are to receive questions from the staff about whether the issuer’s use of the 1992 framework satisfies the SEC’s requirement to use a suitable, recognized framework”. To avoid questions form the staff, smaller reporting companies will want to take steps to transition to COSO 2013.

 

For more information regarding this topic, please feel free to contact Daniele Ouellette Levy.

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