Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Legal issues to consider before purchasing a business sign

A sign is a very important part of any business. A sign has the ability to get your message out 24 hours a day 7 days a week. BUT, before you run out and purchase a business sign there are a few legal issues you need to keep in mind.

The first thing you should know is that business signs are regulated by local government. They control the size, construction, numbers, location and much more. You should be able to find the standards for construction, materials and operation in your local building codes.

The second issue you will need to keep in mind is that business signs are considered a form of “commercial speech” therefore you have significant protection under the First Amendment of the U.S Constitution. The Fourteenth Amendment requires local governments to provide due process and equal treatment to all in regards to the sign permitting process. Make sure you do some research and get a full understanding of the First and Fourteenth Amendment before you purchase a sign.

The third thing you should know is that there are federal laws that protect sign companies and business owners from having their designs and artwork from being copied with out their permission. The message that you put on your sign is also protected by federal law. For example if a sign company has a unique method that they use to construct their signs they can have that method protected with a patent. A business owner can also have the original artwork they use on their sign protected by getting it copyrighted.

The fourth and final issue to consider is whether or not you will lease or buy your sign. A sign is considered a business asset and receives the same tax treatment as any other business property that is tangible.

These are the 4 main issues you need to consider before you purchase a sign. Remember to do your research. Make sure you understand all zoning codes and all of your rights as a sign owner.

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