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Setting up a business involves complying with a range of legal requirements. Find out which ones apply to you and your new enterprise.

While poor governance can bring serious legal consequences, the law can also protect business owners and managers and help to prevent conflict.

Whether you want to raise finance, join forces with someone else, buy or sell a business, it pays to be aware of the legal implications.

From pay, hours and time off to discipline, grievance and hiring and firing employees, find out about your legal responsibilities as an employer.

Marketing matters. Marketing drives sales for businesses of all sizes by ensuring that customers think of their brand when they want to buy.

Commercial disputes can prove time-consuming, stressful and expensive, but having robust legal agreements can help to prevent them from occurring.

Whether your business owns or rents premises, your legal liabilities can be substantial. Commercial property law is complex, but you can avoid common pitfalls.

With information and sound advice, living up to your legal responsibilities to safeguard your employees, customers and visitors need not be difficult or costly.

As information technology continues to evolve, legislation must also change. It affects everything from data protection and online selling to internet policies for employees.

Intellectual property (IP) isn't solely relevant to larger businesses or those involved in developing innovative new products: all products have IP.

Knowing how and when you plan to sell or relinquish control of your business can help you to make better decisions and achieve the best possible outcome.

From bereavement, wills, inheritance, separation and divorce to selling a house, personal injury and traffic offences, learn more about your personal legal rights.

Design right and registration FAQs

3 FAQs about design right and registration.

  1. What is the difference between design right and designs which are registered?
  2. How does design registration work and how much does it cost?
  3. A freelance designer is claiming they own the design right for a bespoke design they created for my company - do they?

1. What is the difference between design right and designs which are registered?

Design right gives limited but automatic protection by stopping anyone from deliberately copying your design. It applies to new three-dimensional designs for the shape or appearance of a product. It does not apply to two-dimensional designs (which can be protected by registration, and/or may be protected by copyright), nor to purely functional designs or designs that are determined by the need for an article to fit or match something else. You do not have to make any payment or application for design right, but keeping evidence of the creation of the design will help if you later need to defend your design right. Design right lasts for 10 years after you first market articles using the design (subject to a limit of 15 years from the creation of the design).

Designs which are registered gain stronger protection for the appearance of all or part of a product. They stop anyone using your design, whether they have deliberately copied it or not. Registered designs can protect both two- and three-dimensional articles, and can protect the appearance of a product resulting from, for example, its contours, colours, shape, texture, materials or ornamentation. The design must be new, individual, and not previously available or published. Like a patent, you have to apply to the Intellectual Property Office and pay the stipulated fees. Registration lasts for an initial five years and can be extended up to 25 years by paying renewal fees.

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2. How does design registration work and how much does it cost?

You submit an application form, an illustration of the design and the registration fee to the Intellectual Property Office. The Intellectual Property Office does not conduct a search of registered designs as part of the process, but will tell you if they think there are problems with the novelty of the design. All being well, registration usually takes two to four months. The whole process is relatively simple, though you may want to use an agent if you expect your registration to meet with objections.

The application fee is currently £60 (but only £35 for textile designs), or £50 if you apply online. After five years, you pay a renewal fee of £70 if you want to maintain registration, and increasing renewal fees for subsequent five year periods up to the 25 year limit.

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3. A freelance designer is claiming they own the design right for a bespoke design they created for my company - do they?

Check your contract. If you commission someone to create a design for you, they will own the right to that design unless you have agreed a contract that states otherwise.

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