Happy New Year!
Well most of your New Year’s Resolutions have already bitten the dust. You’ve already broken your Dry January Pledge. That Gym Subscription is beginning to look like a costly error. Your quest for greater mindfulness has disappeared under a welter of bills, unreliable suppliers and moaning clients.
But wait. There is still some progress you can make towards a better you in 2018. Here are 4 legal resolutions which are easy to keep and will help keep your business fit and healthy:
1. Carry out a GDPR audit. The new General Data Protection Regulations come into force in the UK in May. They provide for a much more stringent regime in relation to Data collection, Data processing and Data usage. Think you will be exempt from all this because of Brexit? No. The Regulations will most likely apply post-Brexit too, as one of many EU standards British companies have to adhere to if they want to trade in a boundary-less digital world. Think none of this matters to you? Wrong. The Regulations carry the right for Information regulators to levy fines of up to 20 million Euros or 4% of your turnover. Ouch. Think those fines won’t be applied? Think again, Carphone Warehouse has just been fined £400,000 in the U.K. by the Information Commissioner – and that’s under the more liberal current Data Protection Act…Do yourself a favour and get some help in carrying out a GDPR audit so that you deal with your vulnerabilities before the ICO does.
2. Check if you have any IP and protect it. Intellectual Property is one of the most valuable assets your company can have, whether it’s Patents, trademarks, Copyrights or Design Rights. Across these 4 types of IP you can protect and earn from assets as diverse as;
- your industrial or technical processes;
- your trading name, logo or slogan;
- your artwork, photographs, software, documents, methodologies, databases, and films;
- your 2D and 3D designs – including shape, contours, colour, texture, graphics and ornamentation.
Think these are just esoteric matters which make no contribution to your value? Think again. Google’s trademarks are worth US$44 billion – 27% of its overall market value of US$163 billion. Simon Cowell is reputedly worth £500 million (based almost entirely on the copyright value of his shows). IBM makes around US$ 1 billion every year from licensing its patents to third parties. Investors love IP, make sure you make the most of yours…
3. Make sure all your Company secretarial documents and filings are up to date. Sounds way too boring doesn’t it, for a thriving SME out to change the world? However you can be fined and put off investors if you don’t deal with this kind of detail. Or even struck off the Companies Register. Annual Returns, Confirmation Statements, Registers of Significant Persons and Directors, Resolutions, Changes in Directors or shareholdings, charges on the company – these must all be prepared and filed routinely at Companies House. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy to use virtual Company secretary that could take care of this for you. Wait a minute – there is!
4. Finally, maybe go for the full De-tox and have a full Legal Health Check. Make sure your business has a full legal body scan covering employment matters, trading contracts, terms and conditions, software terms, consultancy agreements, intellectual property, disputes, data compliance, consumer law compliance, property matters, shareholder arrangements, corporate filings and any other legal matter that might have a bearing on your investment value, sale value or legal well-being. Problems are not always apparent until they emerge, but, just like having a traditional medical, it’s best to identify issues early – prevention is better than cure, and small corrections are easier to address than major surgery.
So, make January the month you turn your Legal Health around, and contribute to a more prosperous and successful 2018…
LawBite can help you with a GDPR Audit on your business’s exact needs, identify and protect your IP, provide company secretarial services and even a full Legal Health Check. Submit an enquiry here for a free 15 minute consultation with an expert lawyer to speak to us about any of our services.
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