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Trademarks

Trademark registration is a critical first step in the building of your brand. Protect the valuable intellectual capital of your business.

Faan Wolvaardt

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A trademark registration gives its proprietor the exclusive right to use that mark. Such a right is nothing other than a concession or a legal monopoly.

Generally, the law is reluctant to grant monopolies – when they are granted, they tend to be restricted. The law will therefore interpret monopolies in a restrictive way. Because of this, patents and copyright, for example, have a restricted term or life.

Trademarks, by contrast, do not have a restricted term and may be renewed indefinitely. However, the extent of the monopoly is restricted by requiring that a trademark be registered in a specific class or classes. There is another reason for registering trademarks in such classes: to simplify the administration of the registration process.

South Africa uses the “International Classification of Goods and Services” which is applied in most countries. This classification regime is regulated by the provisions of the Nice Agreement and consists of 45 classes. There are 34 classes of goods and 11 classes covering services. Roughly speaking, the classes group together goods or services that emanate from, or belong to, the same or related industries. For example: metal building materials and other goods from common metal belong together in one class, while building materials not made from metal belong together in another class.

When you apply to register a trademark, the application must be filed in a specific class or classes. Local practice requires that an application may cover goods or services falling in only one class. The costs for filing and registration increase by the number of classes covered, and that makes it important to cover only the classes that are really important.

Trademark law requires that an applicant for registration of a trademark must have a present and definite intention to use the mark in relation to the goods (or services) covered by the application. This means that one cannot validly register a trademark for all goods or in all the classes unless there is a present intention for use in relation to such goods or classes of goods. Hence, it is necessary to consider precisely what the goods of interest are and to register only in the appropriate classes.

There is a requirement that a registered trademark must be used. If it is not used, the holder of the monopoly can be forced to vacate the monopoly to make place for someone else who needs to use it.

Registering a Trademark

Trademarking can protect your business’s valuable intellectual capital such as its brand name, slogan, logo or even a specific shape relating to your business (the most obvious example is the Coca-Cola bottle). Once registered, no one can use that trademark or something that is similar without risking legal action.

If it meets all these requirements, you can pay to have a special preliminary search conducted on the Trademarks Register (fill in form TM2) to make sure that there are no existing prior rights of a similar mark which could prevent the registration of yours. CIPRO (Companies and Intellectual Property Office), which administers the Register, charges R85 for this service, which takes approximately seven days.

Once it’s clear that your mark does not clash with another registered trademark, you can proceed to registration. To do so you need to complete three copies of form TM1 and pay CIPRO R266 for each application. You need to make a separate application for each class of goods and services (eg. manufacturing and selling computers are two separate classes). Your application will be allocated an application date and number. Bear in mind that you need to renew your trademark every ten years, which costs R121.

Ensure Your Trademark:

  • Is distinctive (it distinguishes you from other businesses)
  • Is a sign that indicates the
  • “kind, quality, quantity, intended purpose, value, geographical origin or other characteristics of your goods or services”
  • Is not something that has become customary in your field of trade
  • Is not offensive and doesn’t go against the law.

Trade marks manager at Bowman Gilfillan.

Tax

7 Direct And Indirect Taxes You Should Consider Before Registering Your Business

Tax planning is critical for us all more so for the success of your newly registered entity.

Kenlin Stride

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If your business has been registered, guess what in the eyes of the law your business is now a legal entity, congratulations. What does this mean? Well this means your business is a distinct legal entity separate from you in the eyes of the law, this means your business can now enter into contracts to purchase assets, utilise debt instruments and hire staff amongst other things. This unfortunately also means your business is subject to tax compliance. Let me try and give you a snapshot of what taxes to be aware of as a business owner however not all will automatically be applicable to your business.

1. Income Tax

Income tax is one of the state’s main sources of revenue and is levied on taxable income determined in terms of the Income Tax Act. All businesses must be registered for Income Tax. It is illegal not to be registered for Income Tax if you have a business.

2. Provisional Tax

The payment of provisional tax is to assist taxpayers in meeting their tax liabilities by way of installments out of their taxable income. Income tax is only paid once the full 12 months of trading is complete. It would be impractical to expect taxpayers to pay one large lump sum of income tax to SARS. Companies automatically fall into the provisional tax system.

Related: Tax Basics For Business Owners

3. Small Business Corporations Tax

SBC Tax was introduced as a tax relief measure for small business. SBC Tax will not be calculated on the flat 28% of taxable income. Dependent on your annual taxable income, you will be liable at the percentages in the table.

4. Pay As You Earn

Employees’ tax refers to the tax required to be deducted by an employer from an employee’s remuneration (salary) paid. The process of deducting or withholding tax from remuneration as it is earned by an employee is commonly referred to as PAYE.

5. Value Added Tax

This is an indirect tax levied on the ‘sale’ and ‘purchase’ of goods and services. This tax is not compulsory unless your turnover has exceeded R 1 000 000 mark however you choose to register voluntarily if it makes sense for your business strategy.

Related: How to Reduce Your Taxable Income

6. Unemployment Insurance Fund

UIF contributions are compulsory for all employees working more than 24 hours a month. The contributions are paid to the Department of Labour (DOL), or can be included in the SARS payment of PAYE on the EMP201

7. Workman’s Compensation

An employer must register with the Commissioner within seven days after the day on which he employs his first employee, (this includes the Director or Owner of the company)

You might be thinking tax compliance, what’s the big deal? I’ve been doing that most of my adult life, well personal tax is very different to business tax. As the director of your newly registered business it is assumed that you have done the research as to what laws to comply with as a business owner. In reality however the thrill of having a business overshadows the mundane compliance elements that go hand in hand when running a business. Let’s face it as much as your business is now a legal entity your business won’t do the research and comply with the necessary taxes on its own that responsibility lies with the director and when I say director I mean you.

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Accounting & Payroll

How To Strategically Minimise Accounting Costs As A Start-up

“Financial Compliance can be a costly exercise when approached carelessly”.

Kenlin Stride

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As a practicing accountant one of the most common phrases uttered by clients is that “I will get to my accountant when I can afford one”. The reality is your accountant costs can be minimised when you applying some simple tricks to avoid being charged an arm and a leg.

I have compiled a few areas where you can streamline your business to minimise your businesses accounting fees. Please bear in mind these are guidelines and a consultation with your accountant will still serve you best.

1. The ‘Shoe Box’ strategy is dead and gone

The shoe box is a box filled with all your company and supplier invoices jumbled into one box. As an accountant when faced with the shoe box we smile because now we get to charge our hourly rate doing admin that could have been done by either you the business owner or one of your employees. Accountants make a large portion of their turnover from doing admin that could have been avoided if business owners had more foresight.

2. Separate personal from business transactions

Nothing is more time consuming for an accountant then having to comb through a business income and expenses only to realise through consultation with the client that personal items were accounted for as business income or expenditure.  As a rule of thumb remove all personal income and expenditure from your business in totality.

Related: Financial Management and Accounting Support for SMEs

3. Record keeping! Record keeping! Record keeping!

Simple record keeping can be your best friend in reducing costs. Here are a few guidelines to live by:

  • As pointed out in Number 3 have a separate bank account for business and another for personal
  • Date and Number your invoices, sounds simple but very few start-ups put emphasis on this administrative function.
  • Provide complete statements for the period requested by your accountant for your credit card and bank statements.
  • Keep supplier statements as this will aid your accountant especially during the financial year end of your business.
  • When submitting your debit/ card receipts and there is no accompanying invoice list on those receipts what was purchased.

4. Ask your accountant for a Retainer Agreement

A retainer agreement is a great way to ensure your monthly accounting costs do not fluctuate. With a traditional agreement your fees may spike when it is your company’s financial year end or when your taxes are due. With a retainer agreement your able to budget for a set figure payable monthly. This also translates to an attractive for your accountant who can now rely on a guaranteed cash flow injection monthly.

The bases for an accountants pricing will involve what their hourly rate is , the longer they spend on doing record keeping and deciphering what activities took place in your business the more you will be charged. Remember regardless of how close you are with your accountant or how simple you feel your business structure is your accountant will need as much information as possible to represent your business activities accurately on your financial records.

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Technology

What’s Smart About Cities? Inviting Exponential Possibilities

It is also what produces both their problems and their innovativity that needs to be considered.

Entrepreneur

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Cities are intense. They are diverse, competitive and malleable – highly responsive to human and non-human action, sometimes in weird and unpredictable ways. Therefore, cities tend to be characterised by an elevated urgency, messiness and even volatility. And this intensity is what attracts many of us to them. It is also what produces both their problems and their innovativity.

What cities are not is a place to park off and wait for anything. These are energetic places where you have to be busy and engaged – light on the feet, fingers to the pulse, living in the dynamic realities and fantasies, and there are always old and new problems with which to contend. And this is exactly why innovation is often acknowledged as a largely urban phenomenon – the consequence of this intensity combined with other conditions, such as the concentration of knowledge organisations and infrastructures in urban centres worldwide.

So, whenever people ask me about smart cities, I have a standard response: “What’s smart to you?” And often what follows is a litany of tech solutions we could be deploying in cities to make them more efficient, more futuristic.

Now, I love tech as much as the next person and I am not ignorant of the exponential growth and fundamental impacts of tech in our times. However, I am also aware of another concurrent reality: that human population, and particularly in the youth category, has also been growing exponentially in Africa. And people (for now) develop tech. So, where do we locate smart or not smart?

Let’s start with some facts that we are all increasingly aware of. Today, over half of the world’s population is under 30, and two billion are classified as youth. In South Africa, already over 20 million people (35% of national population) are between the ages of 15 and 34. According to the United Nations, one out of three young people in the world will be African by 2050.

Related: Watch List: 20 SA Tech Entrepreneurs Making It Big In The Industry

How exciting! Notwithstanding the serious issue of planetary limits, we are looking at billions of young people who are designed to be creative and adaptive in a range of contexts and with the ability to exchange and learn. There are so many possibilities and directions imaginable! Yet when we start talking about how we innovate our way into and through the future, the focus is squarely elsewhere. Suddenly there are very few and very similar voices around the table that focus on the agency of a few and centre tech as the key driver. The agency of billions is occluded and they become the so-called entitled beneficiaries, use cases, and/or the grateful consumers.

Coming back to smart (and my assertion that I am not anti-tech) – why does this matter? Well, it matters because tech is developed and governed by people. People determine the assumptions and rules that we embed into what we encode. We en-culture tech so to speak – contrary to the simplistic claim that tech is objective or neutral.

In my view, it is not likely that technology on its own has the potential to be usefully transformative. Consider, the hyper-connected world that IoT enables or blockchain’s democratisation of not only administration, but also of traditional entrepreneurship and innovation systems. These could be transformative – but not if our processes of technological development and diffusion are the domain of the fortunate few, circumventing – or even subverting – the recognition and involvement of the billions. Barring blind faith in the benevolence of the privileged or in happenstance – the technologies are far more likely to reproduce our current structure and gaps of privilege and exclusion. This is a good example of how not to be smart: following the same old processes with new tools and expecting different results. And then not recognising it as such.

We need to get smarter. We need to activate the over 50% unemployed youth in South Africa as well as the billion who are living in slums all around the world. We need to cease thinking of inclusion only as an outcome, and instead tap into the dynamism of place and the spirit of youth to engage, play, imagine, try to mix. We need to open up to an abundance of visceral ideas and queer possibilities which speak to a multiverse of unique contexts, circumstances and considerations; which are witty, novel and generative.

This, in my view, is the essence of what we should refer to as “smart”. With this openness, there is the possibility of pursuing the idea that everything from the strategic to the operational processes and assumptions of technological change can be more relevant and transformative as processes of current inclusiveness than as solutions for a magical future destination called inclusion.

Imagine a situation where everyone was acknowledged as having ideas which any of them could pursue on the ideas’ merit and relevance, and with concomitant recognition, rather than advancement relying on arbitrarily (or even unfairly) assigned access and privilege and power? Imagine that…

“Smart” for South Africa – and for African cities – has got to be about enabling the millions and billions of youth to do what they could do best: energise and inspire. And while we may have been focusing on millennials’ poor education or non-sensibilities as the excuses for their perpetual exclusion, it is evident that even these assumptions need to be subjected to interrogation and innovation. The smart process has to be open to finding new ways of being and doing, and figure out how to make them work. The technologies will follow function, rather than vice versa.

The recently launched African Leadership Institute report An Abundance of Young African Leaders but no Seat at the Table (2018), bears a title that tells it all. According to this report, 700 000 young Africans have been exposed to some form of leadership initiative in recent years. Yet they get little opportunity to gain the experience of providing leadership and are, the report says, largely invisible.

Cities and emerging technologies are not abstract trends around us. Nor are they autonomous solutions for the future of humanity or so-called smartness. They are part of an ecosystem of which we are part, and in which we should probably be looking to enact different processes of engagement, given our challenges and desire to be smarter. We could start by inviting the transformative potential of our massive numbers of youth, drawing them out of invisibility. If we don’t recognise our real abundance – the abundance of youthful potential and possibility – then perhaps we are just waiting for a few people somewhere with their gadgets to come colonise our future with their version of what is considered to be smart, and then to specify our role in it. And that is really not very smart.

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