Friday, 31 October 2014

Who is the rightful owner?

Companies who commission a supplier to create a product or design now need to take steps to protect their interests.

Graham Davies, senior partner at Martin-Kaye Solicitors, in Telford, said a seismic shift in the rules on intellectual property had completely changed the face of business.

“Previously, when a design was commissioned, the legal owner was the person who asked for it to be created, not the designer. But now the Intellectual Property Act 2014 has totally reversed the position, unless you stake your claim in the initial contract with the supplier.

“So whether you’re looking for a design for an industrial product, packaging, a logo, a new typeface in a brochure, graphic symbol or a part that will be used in a more complicated product, you need to know how the new rules apply.”

Graham said the Act came into force at the start of October, but would not be fully in place until the end of 2015.

“From now on, if your company commissions a design, you need to make sure that the contract declares you are its legal owner. You may well find that design companies will charge extra for the intellectual property rights, but that really will be a small price to pay compared to losing control of the design altogether.”

Graham said the idea behind the rule change is that for some time the Government was concerned that smaller companies were at a disadvantage when it comes to protecting their IP rights.

“All the law covering intellectual property was actually quite old, and so the new Act has been introduced to level out the playing field.”

But he stressed that any designs created by employees while they work for your company would remain the property of the employer at all times, with no change to that area of the law.

“So whether you’re creating a design for someone or you’re commissioning someone else to create something for you, it’s clear you need to know how the new rules affect your rights – don’t leave it to chance.”

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Will writing is a serious business

Families are being urged to take extra care with the writing of their wills after the Ministry of Justice resisted calls to regulate the industry.

Wills and probate specialist Fiona Mainwaring, from Martin-Kaye Solicitors in Telford, said people should make certain their final wishes are heeded by using a firm of solicitors.

Changes to will-writing rules have just come into effect, but the Ministry of Justice has made it clear that it is not in favour of any form of regulation for will-writing.

The Legal Ombudsman had called for a voluntary complaints scheme to cover the growing number of unregulated wills and probate providers.

But the Ministry said “other options should be explored first, including better guidance for professionals and making better use of existing consumer information and protection”.

Fiona said: “The Law Society has been expressing concern for some time about the absence of regulation for will-writing and the damage this could have on the public. Anyone can set themselves up as a will writer, so it is important to distinguish between those who are unregulated, uninsured and untrained, and solicitors who are highly trained in this area.”

She added: “Anyone of any age who has assets, such as a house, savings or a business – or people they want to ensure are looked after – should make writing a will a priority.

“Not making a will can cause many months of grief for your loved ones. Talking about death and planning for the worst can feel uncomfortable, but you need to consider how much worse the situation would be if you died, or became too incapacitated to put your wishes down on paper.

“The latest law changes include amendments to the definition of a person’s individual personal belongings, and alterations to the rules over who can make a claim against a person’s estate. It is vital that your will writer is on top of all these issues.

“Anyone in doubt about a will writer’s qualifications can check out the Law Society’s ‘find a solicitor’ website, which lists 140,000 solicitors, by practice name, and location.”

Friday, 10 October 2014

HELP is at hand for local firms

Companies were offered expert advice on stepping up discipline in the workplace at the latest in a series of seminars organised by Martin-Kaye Solicitors.

The firm, which has offices in Telford and Wolverhampton, held the latest seminar in its long-running series at The Ramada Park Hall Hotel in Goldthorn Park.

The event was led by the company’s employment law specialist, John Metham, who said: “It was another hugely successful evening, where every seat was taken. This latest chapter in our HELP series – standing for HR and Employment Law in Practice – was designed to equip companies with the tools to deal with even the most stressful of situations.

“Our speakers covered issues around staff under-performance and discipline, as well as grievance procedures, which can be a minefield given the ever-changing legislation. No matter how well a business is run, problems with discipline and under-performance arise from time to time, so we were delighted that so many local companies came out to take advantage of some one-to-one time with experts.

“Our HELP presentations, covering a wide range of topics, continue to be warmly received by local businesses, and we will be announcing more dates and venues soon.”  

We deliberately restrict the number of delegates at each of our HELP sessions, so everyone who attends has the chance to play an active and purposeful role in the discussions.

“Fewer delegates means more opportunity to interact with our experts and the chance to ask direct questions particular to each company’s circumstances,” John said. “This is why we believe companies feel they get so much out of attending.”

Pic:    At the seminar are, from left John Mehtam (Martin-Kaye Solicitors), James Jagpal (Operations Manager at The Ramada Park Hall Hotel) and     Graham Davies (Martin-Kaye Solicitors)