Registered Design FAQ’s

WHAT CAN BE A REGISTERED DESIGN? 

A registered design can be the particular look, shape, configuration or ornamentation of a product(s).

DO I NEED TO REGISTERED DESIGN? 

This depends on if you have something unique that you would like to protect. A registered design may become essential to your business in the future and save a lot of headaches down the road. If you are unsure regarding anything to do with registered designs our expert team with over 30 years’ brand protection experience are on hand to advise. Call us on 0800 069 9090 or drop us an email to mitch@start.biz to find out more.

ARE ALL REGISTERED DESIGNS REGISTERABLE? 

No, a registered design will not be accepted if it is not distinctive enough. We will advise in our report ways in which you can make your design more distinctive and help you with your application.

IS A REGISTERED DESIGN EFFECTIVE WORLDWIDE? 

No, a registered design is only effective in the country where the design is registered. However, there are several International Conventions that exist which assists clients who wish to register a design in more than one country with one single application which are more cost effective than obtaining separate national registrations.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE REGISTERED DESIGN CLEARANCE SEARCHES? 

Registered design novelty searches are particularly important as they are the first step to determining whether the design you wish to use, and register is available to do so. We strongly recommend that, to avoid any potential conflict between your proposed design and any existing confusingly similar designs, that you instruct us to carry out a comprehensive registered design search on your behalf.

CAN I AMEND MY REGISTERED DESIGN AFTER SUBMISSION? 

No, once an application has been submitted it cannot be altered except for the owner’s name and address. It is important your application is as accurate as possible.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO OBTAIN A DESIGN REGISTERED IN THE UK? 

The initial registration process takes around 2-3 months to complete.

HOW LONG DOES A DESIGN REGISTRATION LAST? 

A registered design is renewable every 5 years for a maximum registration period of 25 years.

HOW MUCH DOES A REGISTERED DESIGN COST? 

The application fee is dependent on the number of designs included in one application. For example, it is possible to file a multi-design application in the United Kingdom. A UK design application containing one design costs £300; a UK multi-design application containing up to 10 designs costs £550 and UK multi-design application containing up to 20 designs costs £750.

How to Start an Online Business in the UK

With changing habits and lifestyles, people have become more aware of how they utilise their time. Online shopping has become increasingly popular over the past few years but never more so than in recent months where physical shops were forced to close their doors and selling and buying online was the only option.
Starting an online business will have some similarities to that of starting a traditional brick and mortar business and in addition there will be other factors to consider. The initial setting up of your business will depend on the type of business you intend to run, where you will be working and whether you will take on people to help.

Get your online business idea 

The first step would be to decide what kind of business you wish to set up. There are a number of websites available that you can use to help determine what kind of market you wish to operate in should you not already know. However, if you are thinking of setting up your own online business, more often than not you usually already have some kind of idea as to what you want to do.
Once you believe you have a viable business idea and have decided on your chosen product(s) or service, it is essential that you carry out market research extensively. By researching and testing out the market you will be able to determine whether your business idea has the potential to be successful or not. Market research can also help you plan your next steps and map out how to set up your business, giving you an idea of start-up costs and any kind of funding that may be available to you as well as helping to define your target audience, pricings you should set and of course who your competitors are.

Create a business plan 

After you have carried out your market research and feel you have a sufficient amount to be beneficial, you’ll need to create a business plan. This is a great way to pull together all that information you have collated and visualise how you see your business in one form of documentation. This will be your working document that you will be able to refer to and add or change over the course of its time. This is also paramount when you are trying to get funding for your business.
Also consider your social media and marketing plan, a presence online is very important and gets your brand out there to potential customers.
For more on how to create a business plan read our advice here and to learn more about how to put a business strategy together read more here.

Choose your online business model 

As you have now established what kind of online business you are going to set up, you need to ensure your online business model suits your plan and gives you a structure to work with. The two main options which tend to be the most popular are ‘sole trader’ or ‘limited company’.
A sole trader tends to be the best option for those people who are looking to start up a small business. You and your company are seen as one entity and therefore any profit or loss will affect your personal finances.
A Limited company will offer you protection as your company is seen as a separate entity giving you limited liability.
If for example you are intending on starting an online shop or selling a product(s), you’ll be operating on an ecommerce business model making revenue from sales.
There are various models that you can choose from but it’s important to pick the one that suits your and your business best.

Decide your business name and register 

Before you register your business, you’ll need to come up with a name. It’s important that you remember to make sure that both your business name and domain for your website are available. It will be much easier for customers to find your website if these match, if they are different, this can lead to confusion and even loss of business as your potential customers can be directed elsewhere.
You can easily check if your business name and domain name are available when National Business Registers search here. Learn more about registering and protecting your business name here.

Prepare for the costs of setting up an online business 

These will vary dramatically depending on the size of your start up business as well as the type of business that is being started. However, some of the costs that will need to be considered are:
How much it will cost to build an inventory of the products you will be selling.
The equipment you would need to use, for example, technical equipment.
The cost of building a website.
Marketing costs and possible outsourcing of this.
Company formation costs, if you decide to go with a limited company structure.
Domain cost, there is usually an annual fee behind this.

Build your website 

Whether you decide to do this yourself or outsource, the website you create should reflect your business and ensure you align your vision with the web developers. Consider the user experience (UX), this should be easy to navigate and use. The aesthetics and logo, ensure your site is appealing and organised and finally ensure your site is mobile friendly, a vast majority of people use their devices to access sites and this is only getting more popular.
If you will be selling goods, consider payment methods and how you will be charging your customers and what online payment system you will be integrating into your website.
There are many elements to consider when starting your own online business using this simple guide to get started can make all the difference and give you that added confidence boost you may need.

How to Start a Business (Limited Company)

8 steps to set up your limited company 

These steps will ensure you are compliant and correctly set up with the UK government as a limited company. You can operate as a sole trader which just requires you to register differently with HRMC.

1. Decide if forming a limited company is right got you 

Advantages of setting up as a limited company include; limitation of personal liability, professional status, beneficial tax efficiency and planning. However, drawbacks include; needing to do a more administration, publish your personal details publicly and you will have legal accounting requirements as a limited company. If you are looking to commit to a full-time, more professional venture that you will invest substantial time and effort in growing forming a limited company is a great option.

2. Register your business 

There are several steps to registering your business officially with the government, for advice and help with the process you can use a formation agent. They will save you time, money and stress so you can get to the fun part of running your new company! National Business Register have over 35 years experience forming companies, read more about their services here. You will need to decide on the name of your company, who and how many directors you will have and how many shares each director will have.

3. Employing someone as a limited business 

You will need to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions for each employee so will need to set up a PAYE. This government resource is a good directory for what you will need to cover if you have employees, it also takes you to details regarding your tax self assessment form – get bookmarking!
In terms of employment law – know your basics. A great site for basic legal documents is Rocket Lawyer.
ACAS is a goldmine of informative articles on everything from employment law to workplace Covid advice.
If you’re looking to contact a solicitor our accredited partners, Thursfields have the experience and legal expertise to guide you throughout the life cycle of your business. Read more here.

4. Get an accountant 

It is advisable you get an accountant as a limited business. You are legally required to submit yearly accounts to HRMC alongside your self-assessment forms and Confirmation Statements. Ask friends, fellow business owners and find out more about our accredited accounting partner, Stewart Associates, here.
Remember to keep organised and maintain detailed financial records of everything to do with your business. It may be boring and the last thing you want to do at the end of a busy day but future you (and your accountant!) will love you for doing it. Download your accounting software to your phone to keep organised even on the go.

5. Do you need to register for VAT? 

If your businesses turnover exceeds £85,000 per annum you have to be VAT registered, register here. If you are under this threshold registering is an extra process however it does mean you can claim VAT back on goods and services you use for your business. If you are setting up as a limited company you are probably quite serious about making a go of your business so if you don’t register for VAT (which gives you the ability to claim VAT back on items purchased for your business) you are effectively paying 20% more than you should for anything that includes VAT (which is most things). Just remember to keep those receipts!

6. Understand your tax 

Tax is one of the main factors that sway people to form a limited business. As a sole trader you can pay between 20%-45% tax on your profits whereas a director of a limited company will pay 19%. However don’t go mad spending 81% of your profits, there are other costs, especially with employees (see point 3) limited companies are responsible for. This is where having an accountant comes in really handy. Also having accounting software such as Xero, QuickBooks or Sage will keep things organised on the go.

7. What insurance do I need? 

There are legal requirements for insurance but this decision is also influenced by the type of business you have and how much ‘peace of mind’ you want to pay for. We’ve outlined a few basic forms of insurance below to get you started.
Employers Liability Insurance – this is the only legally required form of insurance for a small business owner. This is to cover any employees that are injured whilst working for you. If you operate with no insurance and have staff working for you, there can be a penalty of £2,500 per day.
Management Liability Insurance (Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance) – this covers the individual directors personally rather than the business as a whole. This can be helpful if things do go wrong as directors are open to having claims of malpractice brought against them with potential fines, disqualification (this will mean you won’t be able to be a director of a future company) and even prison sentences. When taking out this insurance check your policy covers insolvency and large shareholders (over 15%) as many policies do not protect you in these cases.
Public Liability Insurance – this is to cover customer injury. Accidents do happen and not having this insurance if you have a shop/salon etc could be costly. Also note some clients and suppliers may request you have this insurance as part of your contract with them.
Contents and Portable Equipment Insurance – this covers all the technology and physical belongings you use to operate your business. If you are running your business from home and have contents insurance it’s worth checking the wording of your policy as some do not cover equipment used in a commercial capacity.
Professional Indemnity Insurance – this is for businesses that offer advice or consultancy services. This insurance will cover you if a client of yours makes a claim against you stating they have incurred financial loss after acting on your advice. In these industries clients may insist you have this form of insurance and it will help bolster your professional reputation if you do.
Cyber insurance – this will insure you against any claims made if you have a data breach. You should consider this insurance if you hold large amounts of customers data and/or sensitive customer data. This may become more important as you grow and will be valuable to have as you build the data on your customers to optimise your marketing strategy and potentially increase your product/service offering.

8. What are your responsibilities as director? 

The term director does come with some legal responsibilities. Alongside ensuring your business is compliant e.g. has licenses with the local authority and/or the correct insurance for your employees there are some actions you will need to do.
Ensure your corporation tax is paid
File annual accounts with HRMC
Write the companies ‘articles of association’ when you form the company and then follow them. These can be updated after registering
Keep detailed company records and report any changes in a timely manner
Notify other shareholders if there is a possible conflict of interest where you will personally benefit from a purchase the business makes
If you follow these steps you will have a compliant and solid foundation from which to grow your business. If you’re still unsure, we’ve outlined the main differences between being a sole trader vs limited company for you. Alternatively if you’ve decided becoming a sole trader is the best option for you read our guide on how to set up as a sole trader here.

How to Start a Business (Sole Trader)

7 steps to set up your business as a sole trader 

These steps will ensure you are compliant and correctly set up with the UK government

1. Decide if being a sole trader is the right set up for you 

76% of businesses in the UK are sole traders and this is how many people setup. Advantages to being a sole trader include; keeping things simple in terms of administration, you can employ people and it’s a relatively straight forward process with HRMC. However, there are also draw backs; you will be personally liable for any debts the business incurs and will have limited access to external finance options. If you are just starting out and are setting up a low-cost business becoming a sole trader is a great option.

2. Register with HRMC 

Once you have decided you are going to operate as a sole trader you will need to let HRMC know by registering for a self-assessment tax. HRMC will then send you a letter with your 10 digital Unique Taxpayer Reference (UTR) which will allow you to go online and set up your account.
If you have done a tax return online before grab you UTR (unique taxpayer reference) and fill out this form – CWF1. If you’ve forgotten your UTR find it here.
If you have a business that you run alongside being employed by another company it is still worth looking into whether you should register. The Gov website has a test page here. Alternatively speak to an accountant for advice, more on that later.

3. What to do if you employ someone as a sole trader 

A common misconception of being a sole trader is that you can’t employ people however as long as you have the correct set up you can. You will need to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions for each employee so will need to set up a PAYE. You will need to pay income tax and National Insurance contributions for each employee so will need to set up a PAYE. This government resource is a good directory for what you will need to cover if you have employees, it also takes you to details regarding your tax self assessment form – get bookmarking!
In terms of employment law – know your basics. A great site for basic legal documents is Rocket Lawyer.
ACAS is a goldmine of informative articles on everything from employment law to workplace Covid advice.
If you’re looking to contact a solicitor our accredited partners, Thursfields have the experience and legal expertise to guide you throughout the life cycle of your business. Read more here.

4. Get an accountant 

You can do your books yourself however unless you particularly enjoy this aspect of running your business getting an accountant is not only a good idea, it’s essential. When you are just starting out and trying to keep costs low it may seem like an unnessccery outgoing however if you make a mistake, file something incorrectly or just miss something from HRMC having an accountant is a life saver. Ask friends, fellow business owners and find out more about our accredited accounting partner, Stewart Associates, here.
Remember to keep organised and maintain detailed financial records of everything to do with your business. It may be boring and the last thing you want to do at the end of a busy day but future you (and your accountant!) will love you for doing it. Download accounting software to your phone to keep organised even on the go – Xero, QuickBooks and Sage are all popular and user friendly solutions.

5. Do you need to register for VAT? 

If your businesses turnover exceeds £85,000 per annum you have to be VAT registered – register here. If you are under this threshold registering is an extra process however it does mean you can claim VAT back on goods and services you use for your business. Don’t forget to keep those receipts!

6. Understand your tax 

This is where the accountant will come in useful however a good rule of thumb is put aside 25% of your income. Don’t touch this until the end of the financial year (sole traders need to pay their tax for the previous year by the 31st January every year) and you should be golden. Alongside your income tax you will have to pay National Insurance Contributions throughout the year. Here are the thresholds
Annual profits below £9,568 (2021/22) = £3.05 per week.
Annual profits between £9,568 and £50,270 = 9%
Annual profits over £50,270 = 2%

7. What insurance do you need? 

There are legal requirements for insurance but this decision is also influenced by the type of business you have and how much ‘peace of mind’ you want to pay for. We’ve outlined a few basic forms of insurance below to get you started.
Employers Liability Insurance – this is the only legally required form of insurance for a small business owner. This is to cover any employees that are injured whilst working for you. If you operate with no insurance and have staff working for you, there can be a penalty of £2,500 per day.
Management Liability Insurance (Directors’ and Officers’ Liability Insurance) – this covers the individual directors personally rather than the business as a whole. This can be helpful if things do go wrong as directors are open to having claims of malpractice brought against them with potential fines, disqualification (this will mean you won’t be able to be a director of a future company) and even prison sentences. When taking out this insurance check your policy covers insolvency and large shareholders (over 15%) as many policies do not protect you in these cases.
Public Liability Insurance – this is to cover customer injury. Accidents do happen and not having this insurance if you have a shop/salon etc could be costly. Also note some clients and suppliers may request you have this insurance as part of your contract with them.
Contents and Portable Equipment Insurance – this covers all the technology and physical belongings you use to operate your business. If you are running your business from home and have contents insurance it’s worth checking the wording of your policy as some do not cover equipment used in a commercial capacity.
Professional Indemnity Insurance – this is for businesses that offer advice or consultancy services. This insurance will cover you if a client of yours makes a claim against you stating they have incurred financial loss after acting on your advice. In these industries clients may insist you have this form of insurance and it will help bolster your professional reputation if you do.
Cyber insurance – this will insure you against any claims made if you have a data breach. You should consider this insurance if you hold large amounts of customers data and/or sensitive customer data. This may become more important as you grow and will be valuable to have as you build the data on your customers to optimise your marketing strategy and potentially increase your product/service offering.
If you follow these steps you will have a compliant and solid foundation from which to grow your business. If you’re still unsure, we’ve outlined the main differences between being a sole trader vs limited company for you. Alternatively if you’ve decided forming a limited company is the best option for you read our checklist on how to set up a limited company.

5 Things to Consider When Making a Website for your Business

Setting up a website for your business is a great way for customers to find you, showcase your products/services and build your reputation.

1. What kind of website should you choose? 

Depending on what your business does, you’ll need to decide which kind of website is best for you. We’ve listed out the below the basic functions of different businesses, depending which one you fall under will directly effect what your customers will want to see on your website.
Services – information about what you can provide your customers with, where they can find you, how they can contact you and some background information/testimonials or reviews. An enquiry form or simple booking service may come in useful as well.
Products – customers will want to see all of the above but you may consider adding a shopping feature to your website.
Community organisation – information about your current projects and past projects, how people can get involved, contact details and background information about the organisations mission or vision. A blog my be a great way of keeping people up to date and informing them about current events.
Freelancer – this is a great way to showcase your work if you are an artist, creative or any other kind of freelancer. You can add portfolios, examples of your work, projects you’ve worked on, contact details and even a blog to share updates with potential clients or collaborators.

2. Should I use a template to build my website? 

If you are looking for an informative or ecommerce website there are some amazing platforms out there which have easy to use templates. If your business offers something more complex you may consider engaging a web developer to help you build your site from scratch. If you want your site to be constantly updated, you will need a CSM (content management service) these template websites will have this built in and developers will be able to code this into your website too. Some template platforms out there include:
NBR – National Business Register offer a website and email service. This can be paid for yearly or is free when you take out Business Name Registration protection.
Squarespace – this enables you to build a professional looking website quickly. It is intuitive and even has marketing tools to help you maximise your online presence.
Wix – similar to Squarespace it has customisable templates and tools to help you build your site.
Shopify – if you are a product based business this is an amazing way to get your online shop up and running. It has integrated analytics tools, a dashboard and lots of add-on apps available to help you market and grow your business.
Etsy/depop/eBay – you can set up a shop within these sites. Benefits of this include having a well-known name attached to your business however it may look a little less professional to some as you won’t have your business name as the URL. Also there are thousands of users already on these market places so coming high in the search results will require real effort and may take some time. However, if you’re starting small these are a great place to start.

3. Should I have social media accounts for my business? 

Yes! Social media is a great place for people to discover your business, build social proof and showcase your talents. If you’re not keen on social media you can keep it very low key but regular posting and interacting with people will help build your account and reach. Do some research to see which platforms your competition uses, what channels your customers use most and what type of content works best for your offering. Also consider which platform you are personally most familiar with.
You can set up a business account for free and will have basic analytical tools to help you track your progress. We’ve listed out a few below with some advantages to help you decide.
Facebook – having a Facebook page will help people find you and allow you to post photo’s and information about your business. Facebook tends to have a slightly older audience and works well local community and product based businesses.
Instagram – has lots of different ways to present your content. This platform is best if you have a product which is particularly visual.
Twitter – this is prodomitely a text based channel however there are options to add visuals, but not to the same extent as with Facebook and Instagram. Twitter is a great place to re-post articles, share ideas/thoughts and get industry news. FYI Twitter is the only social platform used more by men than women (70% vs 30%).
LinkedIn – this is a great way to build professional connections within your industry. Some people do share personal news through this channel but it is usually connected to business or industry in some way. It’s great for posting news about your business, sharing industry articles, networking and posting job vacancies.
YouTube – ideal if you like producing video content. It’s particularly useful for explaining products/services. Create ‘how to’ video’s for your products or services to maximise this channel.
TikTok – speaks to a younger audience and has yet to be monetised in the same way as the above channels.
This is not an exhaustive list so doing research into which channels your customers use most is essential.

4. What should I put on my website? 

Content is king! Setting up the foundational content for your website is the place to begin. Keep it really simple and clear, outline the basic information you think a potential customer would like to know and make yourself contactable.
Your business name & logo.
Details of your offering.
Full contact details.
Visuals of your offering – this can be photos of products or you can use graphics/stock photos if you provide services.
After this you can start to have some fun! Think about the content your customers enjoy consuming, content that answers questions your customers may Google and types of content that would work for your business. Keeping your website up to date, relevant and engaging is paramount so depending on how much time you have to devote to this, you may want to ask a professional for help. You can draft in agencies, have part-time or fill-time marketing assistants/managers or you can put time aside in your schedule to keep on top of things. Remember you don’t have to reinvent the wheel for your social media, take content & copy from your website and reuse it on the different platforms.

5. Should I use digital marketing? 

As you build your business you want to maximise your digital presence as being online can multiple your reach experientially. We will go into more detail about digital marketing in a separate article as it is an entire industry within itself however these are the 7 main areas you may want to look at.
SEO (Search Engine Optimisation)
PPC (Pay-Per-Click)
Social Media Marketing
Content Marketing
Email marketing
Mobile Marketing
Marketing Analytics
You will find experts in each of these areas along with some people that have strengths that cross-over. If you are an established business it is worth either engaging an agency or employing a individual specialist through a digital recruiter to ensure you are getting exactly the help you are looking for.

Domains FAQ

AM I ALREADY PROTECTED ON THE INTERNET IF I HAVE A BUSINESS NAME OR A LIMITED COMPANY? 

No, the Internet is totally separate in this regard. The only way to protect your interest is to register a domain name, effectively taking it off the market. Domain names are registered on a ‘first come first served’ basis.

HOW MUCH WILL A DOMAIN NAME COST ME? 

All domain names and access to NBR’s website support service is £30 per annum.

HOW DO I RENEW MY DOMAIN SERVICE? 

Follow this link for our online renewal form.

WHO WILL OWN THE DOMAIN NAME? 

You will be the owner of the domain name as long as you pay the annual fees.

WHAT IF I NEED MORE THAN 5 EMAILS? 

You can purchase more emails at any time in sets of 5 for £15 per bundle.

CAN I PURCHASE MORE WEB PAGES? 

Yes, further web pages can be purchased for £5 per page per quarter.

CAN I SET UP AN ONLINE SHOP? 

Yes, we can offer a shopping facility whereby payments can be received through your website.

WHO WILL DESIGN MY WEBSITE? 

We will design your website for you, but you will have access to your website via a control panel if you wish to edit it in the future or we can edit it for you.

HOW DO I CONTACT YOU REGARDING ANY ISSUES WITH MY DOMAIN, WEBSITE OR EMAILS? 

If you have any queries, questions or complaints regarding any of our services, please contact us via info@start.biz or by calling freephone 0800 069 9090. We will respond to you within 2 business days.

Trade Mark FAQs

WHAT CAN BE A TRADE MARK? 

A Trade Mark can consist of words (including personal names), designs, letters, numerals or the shape of goods or their packaging, sounds or smells.

DO I NEED A TRADE MARK? 

This depends on if you have something unique that you would like to protect. A trade mark may become essential to your business in the future and save a lot of headaches down the road. If you are unsure regarding anything to do with trade marks our expert team with over 35 years’ experience are on hand to advise, read more about our IP services here.

ARE ALL TRADE MARKS REGISTERABLE? 

No, a trade mark will not be accepted for registration if it is not distinctive enough. We will advise in our report ways in which you can make your trade mark more distinctive and help you with your application. However, in the case that a trade mark which is not distinctive may be accepted for registration if it can be shown that the trade mark had acquired a distinctive character because it had been in use for over 5 years. We are on hand to guide you through these requirements and make the process simple for you.

WHAT CLASS DOES TRADE MARK BELONG TO? 

It is important to find out the correct class for your trade mark when applying. A new application will have to be made if you apply using the incorrect class. Trade marks can have more than one class and each additional class applied for has a charge of £100 plus VAT. Feel free to contact us and our team will be able to advise which classes apply to your trade mark.

HOW LONG DOES A TRADE MARK REGISTRATION LAST? 

A trade mark registration is renewable every 10 years and therefore can last indefinitely if the registration is renewed.

IS A TRADE MARK REGISTRATION EFFECTIVE WORLDWIDE? 

No, a trade mark is only effective in the country where the trade mark is registered. However, there are several International Conventions that exist which assists clients who wish to register a trade mark in more than one country with one single application which are more cost effective than obtaining separate national registrations.

HOW IMPORTANT ARE TRADE MARK CLEARANCE SEARCHES? 

Trade mark clearance searches are particularly important as they are the first step to determining whether the trade mark you wish to use, and register is available to do so.
We strongly recommend that, to avoid any potential conflict between your proposed trade mark and any existing confusingly similar trade marks, that you instruct us to carry out a comprehensive trade mark search on your behalf.

CAN I AMEND MY TRADE MARK OR ADD FURTHER GOODS OR SERVICES TO THE TRADE MARK REGISTRATION? 

No, once a trade mark has been accepted for registration it cannot be altered except for the owner’s name and address, a fresh registration will need to be made for any amendments.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO OBTAIN A TRADE MARK REGISTRATION IN THE UK? 

The procedure for obtaining a trade mark registration in the United Kingdom usually takes approximately 6 months. Registration is effective from the date of application.

HOW DO I KNOW WHETHER MY PARTICULAR TRADE MARK IS ALREADY IN USE? 

Before an application is placed to register your proposed trade mark you must ensure your mark will not conflict with any existing trade mark. Furthermore, you should also ensure that there is no existing common law trade marks, or in other words, unregistered trade marks, limited companies, business names and any reference to your proposed trade mark on the Internet. Therefore, we offer two levels of trade mark searching:
Identical search -This search will act as an indication to whether your proposed trade mark is available or is registered by someone else. The fee is £80 + VAT.
Identical and availability search -This search should be conducted if it is your intention to obtain a trade mark registration. We will give comprehensive advice concerning the results of the searches, and advice if the mark can go forward for registration. The fee is £150.
Find out more about all of the National Business Register’s Trade Mark services here.

HOW MUCH DOES A TRADE MARK COST? 

Our basic search is £80 plus VAT and our search and acceptance report is £150 plus VAT, which will advise you if the trade mark you submit is likely to be accepted for registration.
Once it has been established your proposed trade mark is available for use, it can be applied for at the UK Trade mark Office. Our trade mark agents will follow through the entire process and obtain registration within 6 months, please note your trademark is valid from the day of application though. The cost to place an application on file to register a trademark in the UK is £375 plus VAT for one class, any additional classes are charged at £100 plus VAT each.

What is Registered Design?

All aspects of Intellectual Property are extremely important to the value, investment and reputation of a business, none more so than Registered Design protection. A Registered Design protects the appearance, physical shape, configuration and the decoration of products whereas trade mark registration protects the names of your products or brands.

Benefits of Registered Design 

A Registered Design gives you the right to prevent others from using it, it is an exclusive right and therefore the best form of protecting a design.
A Registered Design makes taking legal action against infringement and copying more straightforward which is more likely to result in a more cost effective and successful litigation action.
Once registered you can display your registration number of your design which will also act as a deterrent to potential copiers.

Criteria 

A design qualifies for registration if:
It is new. A design must be ‘new’ at the time of filing. Subsequently, if the design has been disclosed or made public (other than by the designer, see below exception) prior to filing or if the design is not materially different to another design that has already been made public then the validity of the Registered Design can be attacked which, if successful, would result in the cancellation of the Registered Design.
One important exception to the above is that if the prior disclosures of a design is made by its designer, or in consequence of a disclosure made by the designer, within 12 months before the filing date (or priority date, if applicable) of the application then this cannot render the Registered Design invalid by a third party. If the designer made the design public more than 12 months after the filing of the application then the Registered Design can be declared invalid.
However, such disclosures may prevent registering the design in foreign countries, especially outside the European Union, as many countries in the world do not allow such a grace period, or allow a shorter period.
The above provisions do not exclude disclosures made independently of the designer during this period, and therefore applications should be filed before the design is disclosed if possible.
However, even a design that meets the above criteria can be refused registration for the following reasons:
• It is offensive (for example feature graphic images or words)
• It is not your own intellectual property
• It makes use of protected emblems or flags (for example the Olympic rings or the Royal Crown)
• A design registration cannot protect features of a design which are solely dictated by the product’s technical function

Duration 

A Registered Design gives you the right to prevent others from using it for up to 25 years – you have to renew the Registered Design every 5 years.

Application process 

We specialise in all aspects of design registration from conducting initial searches on the Designs Register to assessing any potential infringement issues and novelty issues against earlier Registered Designs through to the registration of the design. We can also represent you and offer advice in relation to any invalidity claims filed against your Registered Design as well as conducting frequent ‘watching’ searches on the Designs Register so that we can file for invalidity of any design that is not materially different to your Registered Design.

Filing a design application 

We will require certain documents and information to enable us to prepare and file an application, we need drawings or photographs showing all features of the design.
We also need to know:
The full name, address and nationality of the applicant (which may be an individual or company); and
A description or general name of the article to which the design is to be applied (if this is not obvious);
Full details of any application from which you wish to claim priority.
We can also include a brief explanation of the design in the application, but this is not compulsory. If priority is claimed, then it is necessary to submit a certified copy of the priority application within three months of filing.

Deferment of registration 

A UK Registered Design is usually registered and published once it has passed the registration process. However, the registration and publication can be deferred for up to 12 months from the filing of the application.
This is achieved by not consenting to the publication of the design in filing, and then filing a subsequent consent at some point before 12 months from the filing date.
There is an additional fee for deferring the publication and subsequently the registration of the design.
There are often situations where immediate publication of the content of the design registration may not be desirable, such as when corresponding patent protection is being pursued in respect of the content, or where the content relates to an upcoming product that has yet to be formally publicly announced. A UK design application can be deferred for a maximum of 12 months.

Multi-Design applications 

It is possible to file applications covering more than one design, with no restriction on the designs which are grouped together. The advantage of filing such multiple applications is a reduced cost compared to single applications.
Each of the designs in the multiple application is a separate piece of property and therefore can be licensed and assigned separately.
At renewal, not all the designs have to be renewed. It is possible to claim different priorities for each design and to defer the registration and publication of only some of the designs.

Invalidity 

As explained above, an application for invalidity may be filed once the design is registered. An invalidity action may be filed on the basis of a lack of novelty, individual character, or that the proprietor is not entitled to the design. Additionally, the holder of an earlier trade mark or copyright may file a request for invalidity based on their earlier rights.

Registration abroad 

The filing of a United Kingdom design application generates a “priority date” which can be claimed to support corresponding design applications filed abroad within six months of the UK filing date.
It is also possible for a UK registered design application to claim priority from an overseas filing.
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5 Things you Need to Know About Trade Marks

Every business has something unique about them and trade mark registration may be the best way for your business to protect what makes you a cut above the competition.

1. What is a trade mark? 

A trade mark is a type of Intellectual Property (IP) connected with a particular company, product or service. Trade marks can be words, names, initials, logos, monograms, shapes or signatures, numerals and designs. They are something that customers recognise and associate with your good reputation and the quality of your product or service.

2. What do I need to know before registering a trade mark? 

To register a UK trade mark you will make an application to the Intellectual Property Office, you can do this yourself however it is advisable to go through an experienced agent for peace of mind and ensure there are no costly errors when applying.
Checking other trade marks before you apply is important, you want to ensure you’re not accidentally infringing on anyone’s current registered trade mark so carrying out this check first is essential.
Trade marks fall into 45 different classes, they can be registered under more than one class however the cost of registering will increase for every class applied for. When applying you have to state the correct class on the application, if this is incorrect or you change your mind, you will incur a further costs.

3. How long does a UK trade mark take? 

The process of registering a trade mark takes around 6 months. However, legally your trade mark is in effective from day one of the application, so if you are approved and an infringement occurred within the first six months you may still have a case.

4. What is a watching service and do I need one for my trade mark? 

A UK trade mark lasts for 10 years however some maintenance is a good idea to ensure it is continually protected. A watching service is a process where an agent annually checks other trade mark registrations on your behalf to ensure no new applications infringe on your trade mark. They will keep you updated and advise on what the best way forward is if this does happen. Letting this lapse may cause your trade mark to become void. For example, if someone or many businesses have been using a similar trade mark that you feel infringes on yours for over 5 years they can make a case that you shouldn’t be able to trade mark it as it’s in common use. Seeking a professionals opinion in this area is always the best idea.

5. How do I apply for an international trade mark? 

Trade marks only apply in the country that they are registered in. If you are trading internationally it may be worth registering in the other countries you deal with. Since the UK left the EU trade marks will need to be registered with the countries’ version of the Intellectual Property Office. Legally you will need a representative in each country you trade with. For more information consult a trade mark professional to see what the best course of action is for you.
Trade marks can be an invaluable asset to your business, seeking a professionals opinion to ensure your application is correct and has a good chance of being approved is best practice. The National Business Register, as part of Start.biz, has over 35 years experience in the field with qualified experts on hand to answer any questions you may have and guide you through the process. Find out more here.

Business Name Protection

Why Register Your Business Name? 

Registering a business name is an important step when setting up your business. Choosing the perfect name can be daunting, so we are here to help you through the process. Our service is ideal for sole traders, partnerships and limited companies looking to check and protect their trading name.
Benefits of registering your business name –
Ensure your business name is unique, does not copy an existing business or entity, and meets all statutory legal requirements.
Protect one of your most important assets, your business name, from the malpractice of passing-off, in which competitors copy or use your business name.
Make the most of social media by protecting your online reputation and handles.
A guarantee that we will initiate and cover your legal fees, up to £10,000, if action needs to be taken.
Receive information on any relevant updates in legislation.
Become part of our business community and connect with likeminded business owners.
Access to resources and advice that will enable you to save time and money.
Here at Start.Biz (formly known as the National Business Register) we are passionate about supporting businesses and helping you realise your dream of being your own boss.

What are the Costs of Business Names Protection? 

Business Name Registration costs an annual membership fee of £99 (plus VAT) and includes initial name searches, a display certificate, protection against ‘Passing Off’, obtaining formal statutory permission if needed and expert advice from Start.Biz.
We understand that setting up your own business can seem over whelming at times, our expert team has nearly 40 years’ experience and are here to help you every step of the way. If you have any questions about our services, or just need a little advice at whatever stage of your business journey you are, please get in touch.

How we Protect Your Business Name 

We will protect your trading name against copying by another business, company or brand. This copying is called “passing off”; legal costs, court fees, solicitors and counsel fees are paid by us, for further information please refer to the T&C’s.

What is ‘Passing Off’? 

The law of passing off stands to protect a trader’s goodwill and business against copying, (Passing Off). In order for a passing off action to succeed, you will need to substantiate the following matters:
A misrepresentation made by another, with respect to the business name, in the course of that particular trade.
The misrepresentation is made to the principal customers or prospective customers.
The misrepresentation does cause damage to the principal business or goodwill of which the business name has developed.
Although these elements may be present in an incident that constitutes ‘Passing Off’ it is important that you make us aware as soon as possible so we can act quickly. This gives us the best chance of the claim being successful.

How to Make a ‘Passing Off’ Claim with Start.Biz (National Business Register) 

We appreciate each situation is unique and may require slightly different information depending on the nature of the claim. Our team will be here every step of the way to ensure you are fully informed and take the hassle out of the process so you can get on with the running of your business.
We will ask you to fill out a ‘Passing Off’ complaint form with as much information as possible, sent via email.
Now we get to work! If there is any missing information we require to proceed with your particular claim, a member of our team will be in touch to advise.
We will then issue a letter of notice to the alleged offending party stating that they are ‘Passing Off’ an established business name. This letter will also include useful information for them and next steps on how they should proceed going forward.
If, after this letter has been received, the other party are looking to contend the ‘Passing Off’ action, we will enter a dialogue with them and/or their solicitors. We will start to build a case demonstrating their infringement and work closely with them to resolve the issue at this stage.
Once the above options have been exhausted and it is evident that the ‘Passing Off’ action cannot be progressed without resorting to litigation, we will take your case to the external Legal Counsel.
Since 1984 we have successfully prevented thousands of organisations from copying a registered member’s business name. We can boast a highly professional qualified team who are specialists in their field. Our business exists to protect members’ trading names and for a small annual fee you have access to, and support from internal and external specialists who will endeavour to resolve your problem quickly and effectively.
For a free, no obligation Intellectual Property audit or to discuss your personal circumstances please call 0121 678 9000 or email info@start.biz