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Rental Property Income www.mcleanandco.co.nz/Page43.htm
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The Disputes Tribunal offers a useful channel for small businesses wishing to pursue or resolve small claims without incurring high legal costs.
For example, if you have bought a product or service from a person or business that has not produced the agreed results for your business, the Disputes Tribunal could be a useful way of resolving the issue. The costs are very modest compared to normal courts: a maximum charge of $100 applies per application.
Another advantage is speed: most Disputes Tribunal claims are heard and resolved within three months. If you have a District Court in your area, there is likely to be a Disputes Tribunal as well.
The Disputes Tribunal will hear claims up to $7,500, but this amount can be increased to a maximum of $12,000 if both the claimant and the defendant agree to this extension. Beyond this amount you have to go to a normal court.
However, because legal costs can be high, in certain cases it may prove an advantage to drop the amount claimed in order to have the case heard in the Disputes Tribunal. For example, if you are claiming $14,000 from another person or business, you could agree to drop your claim to $12,000 provided that person or business agrees to the case being heard in the Disputes Tribunal.
The Tribunal does not hear claims concerning:
||family matters or wills
||taxes, rates and welfare benefits and ACC issues
||claims against bankrupt or liquidated businesses
||intellectual property issues such as branding, trade secrets and
Disputes Tribunal hearings are run by referees trained in disputes resolution (some, but not all referees are lawyers). The referee will attempt to get both parties find a resolution to the dispute, or reach some kind of compromise with the other party.
Failing this the referee will make a ruling, which is enforceable and will be upheld by the courts.
The Disputes Tribunal differs from normal courts in that:
|no lawyers are involved and no members of the public are admitted.
||the proceedings are relatively informal.
||you can apply to have a support person present, but that person will
not be allowed to speak.
||you can call witnesses in support of your claim or to provide
evidence on your behalf if you are defending yourself against a claim.
Witnesses will remain outside the room until their evidence is
Some tips to enhance your chance success:
|Prepare your case as thoroughly as possible. Although you canít
take a lawyer to the Tribunal, there is nothing to stop you getting
some legal advice beforehand on how best to present your case or
defend a claim made against you.
||Get your paperwork sorted and make sure there are no gaps. Be
prepared to take in copies of sales receipts, invoices, emails,
correspondence, diaries or documents that record dates of
conversations, what was discussed, any verbal agreements, etc. Often
the best-prepared side presents the most convincing case.
||Try to anticipate what your opponent might say and prepare
||Avoid attacking the other person or side. Instead stay reasonable,
polite and calm. Let the facts speak for themselves.|
You do not have to be knowledgeable about the law to succeed in a claim, but it will pay to have some knowledge of trading legislation such as the Fair Trading Act and the Consumer Guarantees Act.
EIGHT THINGS TO THINK ABOUT WHEN YOU'RE DEVELOPING A NEW PRODUCT
New products go through many stages on their way from bright idea to commercial winner. At each stage, it pays to reassess the project. What needs to change? Can it work? What are the risks and how can you deal with them? What new expertise needs to be brought in?
The earlier you ask yourself these questions, the less costly it will be if the product doesnít turn out to be commercially viable.
Here are eight steps that can take place when a new product is being developed:
1. Bright idea. Youíve thought of a great new product. Is it new? You might need to check patent records, both here and overseas.
2. Plan. The bright idea is scrutinised. What exactly is the product? How could it be made? How much would it cost? Who would buy it and why? Can it work? How long should you spend on finding out? What steps can you take to
3. Preliminary design. This stage turns the idea into working drawings. As part of this process, consider the conditions the product will work under, how long it will be expected to last, who will use it and what their needs are, how it will be manufactured (for example, from standard components or specially-made ones). From the start, the design should aim to make the product as simple as possible, both to make and to use. You want the smallest number of moving parts and the smallest number of steps in the manufacturing process as possible. You also want the product to be robust, and to be able to stand up to users who either donít know what theyíre doing or push the product beyond its limits.
At this stage, you may be able to register a provisional patent, meaning no-one else will be able to register it. Youíll need advice from an intellectual property or patent lawyer.
4. Prototype. If itís not too expensive, a rough prototype can be used to test the basic principles of your idea. If things donít work out, consider the results carefully. Should the product change? Is it worth proceeding with? Donít let your enthusiasm for your bright idea cloud your judgment.
5. Product design. This is the final detailed working drawings, and involves final decisions on how and where the product will be made, what resources will be used, what specifications and standards it will be expected to meet, and so on. Once youíve got the final design, things get very expensive, so this is another time to stop and think carefully about what you are doing.
6. Tooling up. This is the process of getting your machinery or production equipment together. This is when things really get expensive. Even machinery for simple production processes can cost thousands of dollars. Itís worth investing in good-quality equipment to save you production headaches and high maintenance costs later.
7. Samples and testing. Make samples and adjust the equipment to make improvements; and submit your product to more rigorous tests so you can find out about any problems before your customers tell you.
8. Start production.
HOW TO PROTECT YOUR RIGHTS BY REGISTERING A NEW INVENTION OR DESIGN
You can protect your intellectual property by registering it with the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand. You can register:
|new inventions and processes
||original designs for manufactured items
||new plant varieties
||layouts for integrated circuits
The law also protects copyright on original literary, dramatic, artistic and musical works.
For more information, contact the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand or read the Ministry of Economic Development information sheets at http://www.med.govt.nz/buslt/int_prop/info-sheets/index.html.
You can also download PDF guides to intellectual property law and protecting innovation from the website of James and Wells, patent and trademark attorneys: http://www.jaws.co.nz/page.cfm?id=5
New inventions, or new industrial processes, can be protected with a patent.
To be eligible for patenting, an invention must be industrially applicable, contain an inventive step that is not already known, and be new or novel.
A patent gives you monopoly rights for 20 years over the invention, meaning no-one else can use it without your permission. Patents can be licensed, bought, sold or transferred.
Patenting involves disclosing the nature of the invention Ė what it is and how itís made Ė meaning that after 20 years other companies will be able to start using it. Some companies donít patent their inventions for that reason.
Before investing too heavily in developing a new invention, itís worth checking patent records both in New Zealand and overseas to make sure your invention is genuinely new. If you donít check, you might invest heavily in a project without being able to profit from it later.
To apply for a patent, youíll need to provide a detailed description of the invention. If possible, it helps to provide drawings or diagrams, photos of prototypes, or the product itself. Youíll also need to be able to explain how your invention differs from existing technology.
For more information, contact the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand or read the Ministry of Economic Development information sheet on patents at: http://www.med.govt.nz/buslt/int_prop/info-sheets/index.html.
Design registration gives the design owner the exclusive right to use the design in New Zealand. This means the exclusive right to make, import, sell or hire the article to which the design has been applied, or to allow others to use the design. The protection lasts for up to 15 years.
Design registration doesnít protect a particular article, but rather its shape or pattern. To be eligible, designs must be new or original and capable of being mass-produced. Designs need to be applied to the article through an industrial or manufacturing process, not merely produced once or twice.
To register a design, youíll need to be able to explain its unique features Ė things that make it different from anything else on the market. It will also help to provide a sample or accurate drawings of your design.
For more information, contact the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand or read the Ministry of Economic Development information sheet on design at: http://www.med.govt.nz/buslt/int_prop/info-sheets/index.html.
Copyright applies to books, sound recordings, films, TV programmes, computer programs and other original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work. With some limits, the copyright owner has the right to control the use of their work. They can license others to use it, usually for a fee or royalty, and they can also sell the copyright.
You donít need to apply for copyright. It is conferred automatically. Generally, the author or maker of an original work is the owner of the copyright, unless the work was made in the course of employment. In that case, the employer usually owns the copyright, though that can be up for negotiation.
Copyright applies for differing lengths of time depending on the medium. For books, it applies until 50 years after the authorís death.
For more information, contact the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand or read the Ministry of Economic Development information sheet on copyright at: http://www.med.govt.nz/buslt/int_prop/info-sheets/index.html.
Trademarks can take many different forms Ė a distinctive company name, a signature, an invented word or words, a symbol or graphics. They must be distinctive and not similar to existing registered trademarks. You canít register a geographical location or generic term as a trademark.
Trademarks donít have to be registered, but registration gives proof of ownership and the exclusive right to use it in New Zealand. Once you register a trademark you can use it, sell it or license others to use it.
If you want to use a trademark overseas, you have to make separate applications in each country you want to use it in.
For more information, contact the Intellectual Property Office of New Zealand or read the Ministry of Economic Development information sheet on trademarks at: http://www.med.govt.nz/buslt/int_prop/info-sheets/index.html.
People starting up in partnership often ask whether it is really necessary to have a formal partnership agreement. It is generally a good idea to have one , especially if the partnershiop is not within your immediate family..
Basically, the agreement should set out the rules governing how the partnership operates, and should cover the main īWhat happens if ...ī situations. If there is no agreement, there will be a large element of uncertainty, and applying the underlying law, such as the Partnership Act 1890, may well lead to unwanted results.
It is usually best to have a partnership agreement drawn up by a solicitor, but before you reach that stage you should think about exactly what you want the agreement to cover. In particular, you should consider:
||working hours and holidays
|profit-sharing arrangements, and drawings on account
||partnership capital (and interest arrangements)
||banking and financial arrangements
||making provision for tax payments|
|partner retirement procedures
||death of a partner
||providing for partners' retirements and dependants
||disability of a partner
||establishing the right to expel a partner
||arbitration for unresolved disputes|
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