New Business or 'hobby'?

Discussion in 'Legal' started by Dani B, Mar 7, 2018.

  1. Dani B

    Dani B UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    1 0
    Hi there,

    I have recently started to list for sale my handmade newborn gift hampers and nappy cakes on eBay and on Facebook Marketpage. It's a bit of a hobby at the moment but I'm keen to get a logo, name and potentially a website to sell them under; not because I anticipate a high turn over (I'm keen to keep this small and manageable) but because I feel a logo and name to sell my baby gifts under looks more professional. However, in legal terms, I'm not sure what I have to register, what I have to copywrite and what I have to declare.

    I have identified a company name (one that Duport Associates tells me is available) but would I have to register as a sole trader / self-employed if I choose this route? Can I not just 'buy' the name to prevent it from being used? Sorry for the ignorance here ... business law is not something I have any knowledge of at all (I'm a primary school teacher!). As I say, I want to keep this small and simple, I'd just rather do it under a 'name' and with a suitable / memorable logo.

    I have also used FreeLogoServices.co.uk to create a logo and to find a suitable domain name. The website allows me to 'buy' the logo and domain name, but would I then HAVE to get a copywrite on the logo? I'm not fussed if others decide to use a similar logo to mine but I also don't want to get into trouble for using a logo that is the same or similar to another's.

    And lastly ... If I set up and sell through a website, do I HAVE to then comply with consumer law and offer refunds, etc.? At the moment through eBay and Facebook Marketpage I do not offer refunds or returns unless they are found to be faulty.

    So sorry for my lack of knowledge on all of this! Hoping you can all point me in the right direction (or based on my inexperience, advise me to leave well alone)! :eek:)

    Thank you!
     
    Posted: Mar 7, 2018 By: Dani B Member since: Mar 7, 2018
    #1
  2. Scalloway

    Scalloway UKBF Legend Free Member

    14,029 2,991
    Posted: Mar 7, 2018 By: Scalloway Member since: Jun 6, 2010
    #2
  3. DontAsk

    DontAsk UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    967 128
    Yes, even on eBay. Although written from a buyer perspective, see http://pages.ebay.co.uk/safetycentre/rights.html

    You MUST offer returns and refunds. Make sure your Ts&Cs clearly state that the buyer is responsible for return postage, unless the goods are faulty, otherwise you will also have to pay for the return.
     
    Posted: Mar 8, 2018 By: DontAsk Member since: Jan 7, 2015
    #3
  4. Caledonian TV

    Caledonian TV UKBF Regular Free Member

    252 100
    By 'buying a name' I assume you mean setting up a limited company registered at Companies house? Be aware that this means setting up a legal entity which has, in essence, its own 'personality' but is under your control.and there are some ongoing responsibilities that go with that... I'll return to these.

    ...Yes, along with registering the .com and .co.uk domains for your name (if you can't obtain all of these I'd advise thinking up another name), it can be a step towards helping establish your brand and providing the evidence you need in the event of a 'passing off' action. And it's fairly common practice to register a limited company which is then kept 'dormant' for this purpose. Ultimately though, that isn't a form of 'full protection' for which you'd need to research Trademarking - that will cost in the £200 region.

    The 'real' idea of limited companies isn't to register a name, but establish a particular form of trading entity which basically ring fences the risk of trading from your own finances. i.e. If the business goes down you lose what you have invested in it - and any personal guarantees you've made on what the business may have borrowed - but are otherwise isolated from financial risk.

    There are a couple of downsides to this... there is a cost of £13 annually to complete your obligatory confirmation statement, you must submit accounts to companies house (even if the company does not trade) which are then publicly available, and, if you do trade at any point, you must then submit accounts to HMRC - a tax return for corporation tax.

    Dormant accounts are not beyond the ken of a reasonably intelligent person to file; but if that company trades at all at any time, it then really becomes a job for an accountant. - It's not impossible to do it yourself, but not for the feint-hearted and really more trouble than it's worth.

    Keeping the limited company dormant (to reserve the name) and operating as a sole trader (research the term!) is very possible! - In that case you will register your self-employed status with HMRC (if you go over that £1000 mark highlighted by Scalloway), keep simple (or simpler!) books, and a self-assessment tax return at the end of the year! On the company side, do your annual confirmation statement and dormant accounts.

    The advantage there is that your tax and trading affairs remain completely private! And - if your business grows beyond your current ambitions - you have a named Ltd 'parked' and ready to go! In all other respects, see the previous posts.

    One final point is that a 'free logo service' isn't likely to provide you with the most 'protectable' Intellectual Property.

    Copyright subsists (comes into force or effect) as a consequence of the protected work (i.e. your logo) coming into existence in tangible form - draw an original doodle on a napkin and you own the copyright to it! The copyright belongs to the person who creates the copyright work! - Although they can 'licence' this out to other parties, that process can be a little less straightforward in itself; and people have been stung!

    The clue is nobody gives away their property for 'free'! - which is one reason I wouldn't recommend a 'free' design service!

    You need to research the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 and read up on the Berne convention. Don't be conned into 'registering' your copyright in the UK (you can't! Not officially or particularly usefully at least - and the Berne convention actually demands that it shouldn't be necessary) and be VERY careful about using images, designs or logos from anywhere! - Also, be aware that a lot you will read online on the subject of copyright is written from an American perspective, which just isn't relevant if you're working from the UK!
     
    Posted: Mar 8, 2018 By: Caledonian TV Member since: Mar 8, 2018
    #4