Further to the success of my last seminar, I am writing to inform you that my firm is running another event on a key legal issue at the Lansdowne Club, 9 Fitzmaurice Place, Green Park, London W1J 5JD on Tuesday 29th November from 2 to 5 p.m.
The workshop will be on Employment Law – Contracts and Disciplinary Processes. The speakers will be myself and an experienced Employment law barrister, William Josling of Fenners Chambers, Cambridge.
The event is bound to be lively and will cover such issues as what needs to be within an Employment Contract and Disciplinary Procedure, what are the key ways to prevent an organisation from being sued and what are the common pitfalls which employers make.
An accompanying CD Rom will be given to the guests containing the PowerPoint slides, detailed notes, a sample Employment Contract & Disciplinary Procedure together with some useful clauses which can be easily inserted within the precedents.
Recently Google won a victory in a domain name case after the US National Arbitration forum ruled that the registrant, Sergey Gridasov, did not have legitimate interests in names which were confusingly similar to Google's.
Accordingly Google was granted rights to the names googkle.com, ghoogle.com, gfoogle.com and gooigle.com.
For UK users the .uk registry names dispute resolution service is Nominet - This can be a useful step for clients as it is relatively low cost and they avoid legal expenses. Recently a client of mine set up his business - A competitor took the step of registering a series of domain names containing my client's name. The client was able to go to the nominet dispute service and obtain the relevant domain names in pretty quick time.
A trademark can be any sign which distinguishes the goods or services of one undertaking from those of others. It can be a word or a picture. It can be a shape of a container.
Why should I register a trademark?
First, registration grants a statutory monopoly to use of the mark. You can use the registration to prevent others from using the same or similar mark on the same or similar goods or services.
In addition, the first person to register a trademark in good faith can use it to stop someone who started to use the same or similar name earlier but who didn't register it.
What should I do once I have decided what should be my trademark?
Once the new trade mark has been chosen, you should get a qualified professional to conduct clearance searches to see if the trade mark is free for use. The cost of such searches depends upon the amount of time taken to conduct the search and to analyse the results. Much depends upon the nature of the goods or services to be covered and the resultant complexity of the search report.
How much does a search cost?
It is not possible to give a firm quotation but as a general guideline the cost of conducting a register search against a word mark in the United Kingdom will range from £150 for a very simple search to around £250 for a more complex search. These costs include disbursements incurred in search fees and our services for analysing and advising on the resultant report. If the trademark is a logo it will be sensible to search against that logo also which may further increase costs.
How much does it cost to register a trademark?
Our fees will cost £400 plus Vat for a basic application covering only the United Kingdom. To register a trademark as a European Union trademark is likely to cost at least £2500 plus Vat including all official fees, but that is good value when you consider it covers all 15 countries of the European Union by means of a single registration.
How long will it take to obtain a trademark?
The procedure associated with obtaining a UK trademark registration will take approximately 6 months to complete. As soon as the receipt has been issued we will then arrange for the application to be examined and then arrange for the application to be advertised in 'The Trade Marks Journal'. The application must be published to allow any third party to oppose the application. If an opposition is filed against the application then you will have to instruct a lawyet to defend the application. The application must be advertised for three months. If no formal opposition proceedings are filed against the application then the trade mark will become registered.
My views about the desirability of registering a trademark are clear. A registered trademark puts you in a much stronger position to protect your company name than someone who has not taken this step.
Nevertheless it is possible to acquire rights to a name whether you possess the trademark or not.
These rights are known as common law rights instead of statutory rights which are given by the Trademarks Act 1994.
How do you acquire these common law rights? Such factors which help are prior use, advertising and publicity of the name.
An interesting example of a firm seeking to rely on unregistered rights are the Norwegian software vendor, Gallagher & Robertson who have asserted that they have the rights to the Gmail trademark which has the subject of a dispute involving Google and the London based firm, Independent International Investment Research.
A european trademark covers all fifteen member states of the European Union. The main appeal of an EU application is that the costs of the application compares much better than with the cost of seeking protection in each individual member state of the European Union.
European trademarks are the most comprehensive protection you can obtain for your business name, brand name, company logo or slogans- the protection is effective throughout the whole of the European Union.
Once the european trademark registration has been granted it will last for 10 years and is renewable in 10 year periods - Thereafter, the registration can therefore last indefinitely as long as the registration is renewed at the appropriate time.
The procedure for obtaining a european trade mark registration is exactly the same as the UK but it will take approximately 12 -18 months to obtain the registration.
An additional advantage of a european trade mark is that the application can cover up to three classes without incurring any additional fees.
One of the most profound things about new technology is that it is enabling us all to behave like online newspapers/magazines, radio and TV shows.
Any business can now obtain a website at a relatively inexpensive price which frankly looks just as good as any other on the market.
You can set up a weblog with impressive designs, for free or again, for a low price.
Many online media outlets offer podcasts(or MP3 files) - Again, there is free software on the market which enables anyone who is relatively computer literate to do this and put their words onto cyberspace.
The phenomena of down-loadable video content is also within the grasp of us all well. Those of us who can use a digital camcorder can create content which makes us all look like TV producers.
Perhaps in less than 3 years many of us will all be watching our TV via the internet.
The startling thing about this technology is that it is happening so quickly and that its price is so relatively low.
A useful piece on how these trends are impacting the media industry appears in this article in the Telegraph - Here, the respected media commentator Roy Greenslade urges all newspapers to embrace the online media revolution.
But perhaps the biggest threat to the media profession is that all of us professionals can use media outlets about our areas of expertise(be it law, accountancy or whatever)as a means to communicate with our potential clients.
Previously we dreamt of appearing in local or national media to reach out to the wider world.
Now we are the media.
In light of the fact there that there is every incentive to put this content online for free(to act as an enticement for our paid services), there is every reason for the media profession to be pretty worried.
It is my view that a crucial feature of being a successful lawyer is a knowledge of technology just as much as an understanding of the law.
Just consider this post and how technology is changing the way that we conduct business.
Here is Sir Crispin Davis of Reed Elsevier speaking about how his products are changing the legal profession.
"A lawyer can now go down to the Royal Courts of Justice with his PDA handheld device. If a child has been in a crash and had injuries as a result, the lawyer can access data showing cases where there have been the same kind of injuries. He can see the amounts that have been awarded and the judges' comments plus editorial interpretation and coverage of that.
"He can see all that while sitting in the court. You get some idea of what the digital future looks like."