whereby you can choose to maintain ownership of your design but license or ‘rent‘ it out to other companies. In the terms of the licence agreement you can dictate specifics, such as the length of the rental term, the territories where products can be sold and also how your design can be used. For example if you produce floral artwork you may only wish to license use of your designs for ceramic ware and keep the rights to use them on fabric yourself. It’s vital that you choose the right licence – either sole or exclusive – depending on whether you wish to use the design or not. You’ll also need to decide whether to assign the IP rights of the design to the licensor for the term of the licence. Just be aware that whoever holds the rights to the design is responsible for dealing with any issues regarding infringement. ACID has a generic, reusable Licence/Royalty Agreement available online but we always recommend taking legal advice before entering into any business arrangement.
Q. When starting up on your own when would you recommend dealing with things like copyrighting your work, trade marking, and registering your business and as self-employed, etc.? To ensure that your designs are protected, we advise registering with Companies House if your company is to be Limited, and consider registering your trade mark or brand names before you start your business. However many small businesses start trading without doing these things. The reality is that without written terms and conditions in place conducting your business can be confusing and difficult and any disputes can be costly and time consuming to resolve. Having a set of terms and conditions clearly set out from the off makes life much easier in the long run. A generic agreement, such as the Standard Terms and Conditions template generic agreement offered by ACID, is a basic set of trading terms and conditions with additional clauses that can be added or taken out depending on your own business needs. The emphasis lies on ensuring any intellectual property issues are covered.
An agreement like this will allow you to clearly set out to customers the terms upon which you do business. For example, how long will a customer have to pay for the goods or services? What happens if they do not pay? What is the procedure for returns? Are you to retain ownership and title until payment is made? It is good policy to contact your local tax office too as they’ll be able to advise you on setting up your business to ensure that you understand all the issues surrounding for self-employment and VAT.
Q. I can’t decide what to call my surface pattern design company. Do you have any advice about choosing and registering a name and is it a good idea to use your own name as a brand? When choosing a business name it is best to check out registered trade marks first to ensure that you do not use an existing registered trade mark or brand name. You can do this at the UKIPO and OHIM websites in the same way that you can check for registered designs. You can also arrange official searches of these registered trade marks through one of ACID’s legal affiliate law firms. It is also worth checking the Companies House register for existing company names. This can be invaluable as it is both expensive and time consuming to have to change your trading name once you’ve started your business. It used to be quite difficult to register a personal name as a trade mark but that’s not the case so much anymore. If you plan to go down this route it’s a good idea to take advice from an intellectual property lawyer.
Q. I’ve been advised not to post my patterns on Pinterest and social media sites in case other companies copy them and get them into the market before I do. If I was an established designer with patterns and products out there I wouldn’t be as worried as people would recognise my style and know that I own the original work. However I’m just starting to build my brand so I do need to get my work out there as much as possible. How can I avoid being ripped off?
Published on Aug 24, 2015
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