Intellectual Property

Can I steal from my boss to start my business?

Is it legal and ethical to use one's employer's time and resources to start your own business? No. The law says that all material or product or contacts developed whilst in the employ or under contract by an employer belongs to that business. It cannot be used for profit elsewhere. This includes tools, machinery, equipment, software, contacts, content, intellectual property or anything else that you may think is free to take home. Written permission is required to use any such material.

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Choosing the right name for your business

It's amazing how few entrepreneurs put thought and research into naming their business. There are certain guidelines to follow to ensure you not only choose a good name, but that there won’t be negative consequences for your choice. No matter what type of venture you're setting up, the key is to opt for a name that distinguishes you from other businesses.

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Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC)

The CIPC was established by the Companies Act, 2008 (Act No. 71 of 2008) as a juristic person to function as an organ of state within the public administration, but as an institution outside the public service. Its main functions include the registration of Companies, Co-operatives and Intellectual Property Rights (trade marks, patents, designs and copyright) and maintenance thereof as well as the disclosure of Information on its business registers, among others. Find out more in this article.

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Competition law compliance - Q&A

When starting a small business,it's important to ensure that you’re not contravening competition law. Competition law has two sources: the Competition Act, 89 of 1998, and the common law (i.e. law based on case law and old authorities). The Competition Act focuses on two broad areas: (a) harmful competitive practices that existing businesses may not engage in; and (b) the competitive effects of mergers and acquisitions. This article explores how not to contravene competition law.

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Copyright law

Copyright - the small © you often find at the bottom of a body of writing - is a legal term that gives rights to creators for their literary and artistic works not to have that work reproduced without authorisation. If you're an author, designer, artist or independent computer programmer, you have to know the ins and outs of Copyright law, so you can protect your work from being used illegally. The same goes for anyone who wants to use someone else's work as well. 

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Guarding your intellectual property

Theft of confidential information and trade secrets can be just as damaging to your business as embezzlement or other employee fraud. Learn how to protect your intellectual property with tips including utilising paper shredders, having a plan in place for terminated employees, using passwords, as well as having employees sign non-disclosure agreements, among others.

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Innovus

Innovus is the university industry interaction and innovation company of Stellenbosch University. Innovus is responsible for technology transfer, entrepreneurial support and development, and innovation at the university. The company manages the commercialisation of the University’s innovation and intellectual property portfolio through patenting, licensing and the formation of spin-out companies.

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Registering your design

A "design" refers to the shape and features that appeal to the eye. The two legally-protected types of designs are aesthetic designs (visually appealing) and functional designs. There are various laws that protect the rights of the creator of a design and it's important to know the implications. This article looks at the laws governing design as well as how to register your design.

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SABS Design Institute

Since 1969, the SABS Design Institute has been dedicated to human-centered design, which has the potential to stimulate growth in South Africa’s manufacturing industry. Focusing on the country’s design capabilities, it has become an agent for change and facilitated valuable socio-economic development. The Institute translates research & development and invention into sustainable economic opportunities, while creating a general awareness of design.

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The Institute for Inventors and Innovators (III)

With over 100 years collective experience between its members, the Institute of Inventors and Innovators has the know-how to advise and guide you on your venture of invention and innovation. Having been there, III understands the emotional and mental drain of trying to bring ideas to flourish, hence the establishment of the INSTITUTE OF INVENTORS AND INNOVATORS™. So if you are stuck and don't know how to proceed with your project and don't know how to take it to the next level take this opportunity NOW and contact the institute.

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The Patent Journal

This is a journal published by CIPC on a monthly basis, and it contains information on patents, trade marks, designs and copyright in cinematographic films that exist in South Africa. This Patent Journal is accessible upon registration through a link on the home page of the CIPC website or directly at http://www.zaip.org. The Patents Office migrated from a paper publication of the Patent Journal produced by the Government Printing Works (GPW) to an electronically generated Patent Journal.

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The South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law

The South African Institute of Intellectual Property Law (SAIIPL) was established in 1952 and represents over 187 patent attorneys, patent agents, trade mark practitioners and academics in South Africa who specialise in the field of Intellectual Property Law. The SAIIPL is widely regarded as the custodian of South Africa’s intellectual property rights, and comprises practicing attorneys, academics, practitioners in businesses and in general, people interested in the protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights.

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The top 5 Intellectual Property risks on social media

More and more however, businesses are using social media as a marketing/brand building tool and as another communications platform for engaging with their client or potential client base. The ever increasing adoption of social media by business begs the question: What if any legal risks are attached to social media adoption by business? Considering the multitude of audio, text and images shared by businesses, the most significant legal risk must be the ensuing blurring of intellectual property rights over the content published on such social media sites.

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The value of registering one’s trademarks

Trademarks are huge assets to any company. Unfortunately, many companies do not protect their own brands as much as they should, or even at all. In fact, “A lot of companies seem to forget about some of their most important assets,” says Don MacRoberts, Patent Agent at Edward Nathan Sonnenbergs. “These include their intellectual property, or more particularly, their trademarks.” This article looks at the importance of registering your trademarks.

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Trademark basics

If you feel that your business has become recognised for its name, unique branding or a catchy slogan you came up with, it may be time to consider registering a trademark. A trademark is a brand name (Pick 'n pay), slogan ("I'm loving it" - MacDonalds) or logo (the Nike tick) used to distinguish a company, product or services from that of its competitors. This article will give you the bare basics of what this is and where you can register it.

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Unlocking the legal issues related to your business

Contracts, tax legislation and other Acts relating to your business can be complicated and getting an attorney to help may be very costly. Of course, there is also the question of whether you even know what your legal obligations are. LawUnlocked provides an online tool that may be able to help you assess what your legal obligations are with regards to various aspects of running your business.

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What is a patent?

If you have had the creativity and foresight to come up with an invention no one else has thought of, you can and should protect it with a patent. This gives you the exclusive right to produce and sell the product for a certain period of time. Your invention will also be protected from being made or sold without your permission. Patenting something you have invented is quite an involved procedure, but very necessary to protect yourself from potential copycats. This article is a very basic guideline to what the process entails.

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What is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property is basically any creation of the human mind, such as an invention, a specific brand name, books, etc. Intellectual property rights, which include patents, trademarks and designs, are the legal framework that protects the creators of these works. When you've invented a new product, provide a unique service or provide information that you have developed, be sure to protect your intellectual property, so that other unscrupulous parties do not make profits off your hard work.

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