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January 2017

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A brief introduction to protecting your intellectual property

What is intellectual Property?

Intellectual property refers to tangible or intangible creations of the mind such as inventions, literary, artistic works, designs, symbols, names and images used in commerce.

Why is intellectual property important to a wedding supplier?

The UK wedding industry is growing at a phenomenal rate and intellectual property protects more than just an idea or concept but also protects genuine business assets and the overall long-term viability of your business.

Your intellectual property can

  1. Set up your business apart from other suppliers within the industry.
  2. Be sold and licensed, providing you with an important revenue stream (particularly when the wedding season slows down).
  3. Form an essential part of your marketing and branding so it is instantly recognisable by consumers at every wedding event.
  4. Be used as security for loans.

How is this relevant to a wedding supplier?

Wedding suppliers may have branding and corporate identities that they may wish to protect, however more specifically photographers, videographers, cake designers, wedding dress designers, invitation card designers, DJs and bands, dance choreographers, designer florists are just a few of the wedding suppliers who we have assisted with their intellectual property disputes over the past 12 months.

There are four different categories of intellectual property. These are trademarks, copyright, patents and registered design. Depending on which category your work comes within, this would impact how it is to be applied, registered, renewed and infringed. Therefore, ensuring you obtain legal guidance is essential in ensuring you gain the maximum protection for your intellectual property rights.

How to protect your intellectual property

  1. Be IP Smart – Engage a specialist lawyer to assist you with reviewing your business and analysing which areas of your business can benefit from intellectual property protection.
  2. Protect what is important to others, not just you – What you may believe is important, is not necessarily what your competitor believes is important. Engage a lawyer to scrutinise which areas of your business could benefit from the most protection.
  3. Invest in a well-written non-disclosure agreement – Make sure your employment agreements; licences and sales contracts all protect your intellectual property too.
  4. Act Quickly – It doesn’t take long for a competitor to copy you. When it comes to registering your intellectual property aim to work as quickly as possible. 

For any more information relating to intellectual property rights contact info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

 

6 reasons why you should engage a specialised wedding industry lawyer?

There is heaps of money to be made in the wedding industry and there is a reason why the most successful suppliers have engaged a specialist lawyer to assist them with meeting their commercial, regulatory and legal objectives.

The UK wedding industry can be competitive, tight knit and sometimes ruthless. Therefore, having a lawyer on your side can assist you in protecting your business and financial interests while allowing you to focus on progressing your business.

  1. Knowing the most effective structure for your business

Choices, choices choices! Should you be a sole trader, partnership or limited company. There are choices to be made and implications that follow from your choices. A lawyer can assist you in making recommendations about the most appropriate business structure that would be of most benefit to you and your business. Whatever option you choose, a lawyer can assist you in making an informed choice during  the decision making process. A specialist lawyer can also assist you with drafting partnership agreements or articles association that suit you and your business.

  1. Having legally compliant and enforceable business terms and conditions

When dealing with consumers or other suppliers, it is essential that you have air tight and legally binding terms and conditions. These may need to comply with the latest consumer and business related legislation or reflect ethical or good practice. Having unambiguous and clearly written terms and conditions can assist in safeguarding you from potential disputes in the future. It will also ensure all parties are clear on their responsibilities and liabilities.

  1. Dealing with consumer complaints amicably, professionally and quickly

Lawyers appreciate how time consuming and draining it can be for business owners to deal with disputes. Further, any supplier will be aware of how quickly bad news can spread in the wedding industry. Therefore, being able to deal with complaints amicably, professionally and as quickly as possible will distinguish a good supplier from an excellent supplier. A specialist lawyer can assist you in resolving complaints by looking for compromises and negotiated settlements. In the event, of complaints escalating, a lawyer can ensure your business responds swiftly and robustly to any legal action that may arise.

  1. Ensuring you get paid

A lawyer can assist you in making sure you get paid on time and chase any debts in a professional manner from your customer. This will ensure your business can continue to operate with minimum disruption.

  1. Protecting your brand and creativity

With a rapidly growing wedding industry, protecting your brand has never been so important. If you are a business, it is within your best interests to ensure your branding remains unique and identifiable by the consumer. Having a specialist lawyer can help you create and file trademark and patent applications that are worth considerably more than the fee you will ever pay the lawyer.

For example, if you are a photographer you may wish to ensure your copyright in your work is protected so you can freely exploit your images in a way that you choose. Inventors and designers may also find it useful to engage a lawyer to ensure their unique designs and inventions are protected from copying.

  1. Knowing your employment obligations

Recruiting and retaining talent for your business comes with its own set of challenges. Understanding and applying the rapidly evolving employment legislations to your workforce is crucial. Businesses within the wedding industry often rely on casual working and freelance arrangements that come with their own set of peculiarities. Having a lawyer who can assist you establish work place protocols, create employee agreements and provide advice in the event of an employee dispute is crucial to keeping your business on track.

The Wedding Lawyer is a platform that can assist you with all the above and as well as the following areas of law:

  1. Commercial and Corporate work
  2. Dispute Resolution
  3. Real Estate
  4. Intellectual Property
  5. Business and spouse immigration
  6. Employment

For more information contact: info@theweddinglawywer.co.uk

 

The Wedding Entrepreneur’s Business Plan – 5 Tips

Business plans can make or break your wedding industry business and therefore it is worth taking time out to make one.

  1. Sums

Know your sums! One of the most important aspects of a business plan is ensuring the sums add up in the financials section. This is particularly important if you intend to pitch to investors, as they will be interested in understanding your calculations and projections for the business before they take a leap of faith and invest in you. Even if you are not looking for investment, knowing your sums will allow you to plan your financials better when starting out a new business.

  1. Succinct

A common misconception is that business plans have to be huge documents with hundreds of pages. An investor will want to understand your business from a quick glance and how it will make money. Therefore, keep your structure and language simple. It maybe worth having an executive summary to provide an overview of the business plan covering What the business does? How it will operate? Why it should thrive in a competitive wedding industry? Whether the sums add up?

  1. Suppliers

Know your wedding supplier competitors and your target market. Ensure your plan highlights how you are different to other suppliers in the wedding industry and who your business is targeting.

  1. Specific

Be as specific as possible about your business idea, how it will operate and how you intend to delivery your business plan.

  1. Style

A well-presented business plan could also influence whether someone may wish to invest in your business idea. Therefore, focusing on the style of your business plan can be just as important as the content.

For further advice about setting up your wedding supplier business contact: info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

 

 

6 steps to becoming a wedding industry entrepreneur

The UK wedding industry is worth over £10 billion a year and it is encouraging to see so many independent start-ups being established along side the larger more established businesses. Every year, wedding exhibitions provide a platform for new businesses looking to exhibit the goods and services.

The wedding industry is becoming more competitive but there is scope for new businesses, particularly those businesses which are creative or looking to provide a common service in a more personal way. We believe competition in the wedding industry is healthy as it assists in raising the standard of service provided to consumers.

Therefore, if you have an idea, here is our six-step guide to becoming a wedding industry entrepreneur.

Step 1 – What is your big idea?

What are your key skills or services that you can offer to the wedding industry?

It is particularly important to think about this if you are planning on bringing a new service to the wedding industry rather than buying into a franchise or buying an existing wedding business. The clearer you are about what your offering is, the easier it will be to explain to potential investors and consumers.

Put together an ‘offering statement’ or ‘elevator pitch’ about your offering. This will encourage you to think about your business idea in a concise and effective way.

Step 2 – Market Research

More and more businesses enter the wedding industry every year. It is interesting to see how many businesses enter the industry without fully completing their market research. Consider the following questions:

  1. Who are your potential competitors?
  2. What is the geographical remit of your potential competitors?
  3. Can you offer something different from your competitors?
  4. What do you consider as your Unique Selling Point?
  5. Why would a consumer or investor want show interest in you rather than your competitor?
  6. Why would a consumer hire you for their wedding day? 

Step 3 – Creating a business plan

Getting a business plan done early on will allow you to think realistically and objectively about your business, encourage you to set out your objectives, gain an understanding of the income and expenditure and assist you in checking whether you can run a profitable business.

A business plan doesn’t have to be overly complicated but should sufficiently convey the market research, financials and operations of the business that you are looking to set up.

Step 4 – Creating synergy

The wedding industry is full of suppliers and this means there may scope for your business to partner up with either a similar business or complementary business. Therefore, networking with other wedding related businesses with the view of partnering up could assist you in cross referral of services and access to a wider customer base.

Step 5 – Know the law

Before your start trading, ensure you obtain professional advice to ensure you conduct your business affairs in a legally compliant manner. In particular, you may wish to obtain advice on the following: tax, trademarks, patents, liability, VAT, business formation, employment rights and drafting of business terms. Read this blog for more information about engaging a wedding industry lawyer. 

Step 6 – Test your product or service

You may think you have a wonderful business idea but good business ideas are not enough. The aim to turn your ideas into income. Testing your business over a limited amount of time will allow you to determine the consumer demand. If you are selling goods, you may wish to try selling them on an online market place. If you are providing a service, you may wish to publicise your services (e.g. through social media) before investing in any equipment or major overheads to see how the consumer responds. Be open to making changes if necessary to operate your business as effectively as possible.

Good luck in starting up your business.

Should you require any further information or guidance contact info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

 

 

Poor wedding photos! What can you do?

Complaining that you look more like the beast than the beauty on your wedding day is unlikely to be a good enough reason in the eyes of the law to provide you with consumer rights against your photographer.

However frustrating this may seem, consumer rights legislation is more focused on the ‘quality’ of your pictures rather than the aesthetics of the subject matters in the picture.

The starting point is that you should expect a reasonable quality of image from your photographer. However, where this has not happened, you can do the following:

  1. Contact your photographer to see whether they are able to edit the photographs to enhance the quality. A face-to-face meeting is usually more effective and shows a level of seriousness on your part.
  1. If the pictures are so poor that you are unable to use them, you should be able to seek a full refund. There is also a possibility that you will be entitled to claim for compensation to reflect the loss of memory of the day. In claiming compensation, it is useful to keep the amount to a realistic figure to reflect your disappointment. Any extortionate claims are likely to be unsuccessful.
  1. If some of the photos are good quality but the rest are missing or unusable, you will only be able to claim a partial refund.
  1. You may benefit from gaining an expert opinion from another photographer to comment on the quality of the photographs. This could assist in strengthening your case.

Should you require any assistance in complaining about the work of a photographer – contact   info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

It has been ages! When will I get my wedding photos?

 

So the big day has come and gone, honeymoon is over and normality has kicked in. But – when are the wedding photos going to arrive? Before entering into a photography or videography contract, it is strong advisable that you check to see how long after your big day the photos and/or videos will be ready. An effective contract will make reference to the delivery date of the photographs. Photos and videos can take up to 1 – 6 months to be ready particularly where the photographer/videographer has a busy schedule and little time to edit.   There may also be an option for you to view your photos and suggest edits to be made before the completed version is ready.

If the contract does not state how long it will take for the editing service to be completed, the general rule is that according to the Consumer Rights Act 2015, a service is to be performed within a “reasonable time”. What constitutes is a reasonable time is a question of fact. Opinions of other photographers and videographers may assist in this regard.

To ensure you get your photos and videos on time, the following tips may assist:

  1. Check the contract to see if there is mention of when the photo/video will be ready. If this is not stated in the contract, ask your photographer/videographer before confirming a booking.
  1. Following your wedding day, create diary reminders to periodically contact your photographer/videographer to monitor the progress of the editing of your pictures/videos.
  1. Where the photographer/videographer fails to deliver according to the timetable in their contract, there may well be a potential breach of contract claim against them. In the first instance you are advised to send a letter of complaint and failing a satisfactory response consider contacting a lawyer.

Should you require any further information contact: info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

A 3 step guide – What to do if your wedding supplier has gone bust before your big day?

Every couple wants their wedding day to go as smoothly as possible. However, wedding suppliers are businesses and like all businesses run the risk of going bust.

What can you do?

Step 1 – Contact details of the insolvency practitioner

Get in touch with your point of contact at the wedding supplier to understand the latest position and whether there is a risk of the company being salvaged.

Check to see if the insolvency has started.

If not, ask your point of contact to provide you with details about the receiver or insolvency practitioner dealing with the matter.

Where the supplier is a limited company – the above information maybe listed on Companies House https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/companies-house

Where the supplier is a partnership or sole trader, this information maybe published in the insolvency section of the local newspaper or by checking the Individual Insolvency Register.

Step 2 – Submit Your Claim

Once you have the details of the receiver or insolvency company, write to them to register your claim, explaining:

  1. How much money you are owed
  2. Proof that you have paid the supplier the amount (a receipt or bank statement should be sufficient)
  3. What the money was for

It is important to remember that even if you submit a claim, there is no guarantee you will get the money back. After all there is a good chance that the supplier will have many debts that need paying off. Nevertheless, it is always worth putting in the claim as this could result in a percentage of your money being returned.

Step 3 – Claim from your credit card company

If the supplier goes bust and you have paid your supplier using a credit card , it may be possible to contact your credit card issuer for a refund on the amount you spent with the supplier. This is set out in Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act and the credit card company can assist you with losses you have sustained between £100 and £30,000.

Step 4 – What if you have not paid using a credit card?

If you have paid using a debit card you maybe able to claim through the MasterCard and Visa Chargeback scheme provided it hasn’t been more than 120 days since paying on your debit card and making your claim.

Finally, if you have taken out wedding insurance, this may well assist in recovering any funds that have been lost.

For any further information contact info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

A 5-step guide: What to do if your wedding venue cancels your booking?

Step 1

Immediately arrange a meeting with the venue manager:

  • Aim to set up a meeting with the venue manager within 24 hours of learning that your wedding venue has cancelled on you.
  • This will allow you to understand the circumstances surrounding your cancellation.
  • Where possible, take a copy of the contract with you to the meeting.
  • Take a note of everything discussed at the meeting.

Step 2

Ascertain whether the venue manager can provide you with an alternative similar venue or whether he has a contact that can assist:

  • Time is of the essence if a wedding venue cancels – therefore, it is worth exploring whether the venue manager has contacts in the industry that can assist you. This is a far quicker option at this stage than frantically ringing around to find an available venue.

Step 3

Start searching for another venue as soon as possible:

  • In the event of the venue manager not being able to assist you, start the search yourself. Ideally within 24-48 hours of the meeting  with the venue manager.
  • If your wedding cards have gone into print – immediately inform the designers and printers to stop press.
  • Contact any wedding suppliers you have already engaged to see if they can assist you. They quite often have been to a number of wedding venues.

Step 4

Request a refund from the management of the cancelled wedding venue:

  • You are entitled to a refund of any monies paid.
  • You can also claim compensation for the cost difference of booking a new venue at the last minute. Further, you may be able to claim any consequential losses that have resulted due to the venue cancelling on you – for example the cost to reprint new wedding cards or if your suppliers will charge an additional fee to travel to the new venue.

Step 5

In the event that the cancelled wedding venue management fails to  cooperate with you, contact The Wedding Lawyer for guidance as to how to proceed info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk

10 habits to prevent family feuds leading up to your big day

Wedding Preparations. Emotions run high. Expectations are not met. This is the perfect setting for an Eastenders episode. However, in binding two lovebirds in matrimony, it is important that other relationships remain as intact as possible. Yes, weddings can bring people together but on numerous occasions they have split people apart. Therefore, we have set out our 10 habits to prevent arguments between family and friends.

  1. It is not what you say, but how you say it.

Whilst you may not like some of the wedding ideas and suggestions by family or friends remember to control your reaction  when you are not agreement. Remember it is not what you say but the manner, tone and the words you use to communicate it.

  1. Form a committee of advisors

Any large project can benefit from a small team of advisors to assist you and your partner to sanity check ideas and plans for your big day. It is worth informally recruiting 2 or 3 trusted friends or colleagues (ideally not family) to act as a soundboard and to provide feedback on any plans/ideas you may have.

  1. List your nearest and dearest and allocate them a responsibility

Family and friends may have huge expectations when someone close to them gets married. Therefore, it is important to manage expectations as best as possible. Start off by creating a list of all the people who are close or who may communicate discontent if they are not involved on your wedding day. Then simply allocate these people with a responsibility before or on the big day. It doesn’t have to be a major role – it could be as simple as allowing them to be an usher. The aim is to make the important people feel included and enrolled on your big day.

  1. Address the elephant in the room

If you find that you have had a dispute or disagreement with a family member or friend about your wedding prep, do not ignore it. Also, avoid the silent treatment. When preparing for a wedding, every day counts and you simply cannot afford to waste planning days due to a disagreement. Aim to get to the centre of the issue as quickly as possible and find a way to resolve it.

  1. Couples come first

As you are the couple getting married, your wishes and desires must prevail over any pressures you may get from family and friends to do something in a certain way. Aim to gain clarity with your partner on how you would like to proceed with your wedding plans before taking on family members who may disagree with you. By being on “the same page” as your partner will give you the conviction and strength to stand your ground.

  1. Take regular breaks from Wedding Admin

Weddings are important but do not let them take over your life. Take breaks from planning and allow yourself to focus on our aspects of your life too. All too often, disagreements are a result of overworked and tired minds that are fixated on certain ideas associated with the big day.

  1. Create rules about guest lists from the outset

A ridiculous number of disputes arise from negotiating with family members about guest lists. From the outset, work out the maximum number of people you are looking to invite followed by setting rules about who makes the cut. Examples may include: not inviting anyone who hasn’t ever spoken to the couple, no long lost aunts and uncles or no work colleagues. By creating rules, this allows everyone to be on an equal footing. An alternative method is to provide each family member with an allocated number of guests they can invite. They are then free to invite anyone as long as they come within the allocation.

  1. Retreat from tradition and be creative

We are living in the 21st century. Your family may place pressure on you to adopt traditions and rituals. These are great but if they are likely to cause the couple to be unhappy, it is worth substituting tradition for a more modern and creative approach. E.g. putting the names of all the parents on an invitation card or forgoing a particular aspect of the traditional ceremony. Remember, a couple should be united on their approach if they decide to depart from a tradition or ritual as it is likely to be greeted with some protest from a family member.

  1. Have a leader to make the final decisions 

In the event of dispute or conflict, there needs to be a bold leader who will make the final decision in order to progress the wedding planning. This may well be the couple or a wedding planner but there needs to be someone who makes the difficult decisions to ensure disputes to not drag on.

  1. Finally, if all else fails consider getting married abroad!

It is fascinating how much simpler it can become when you decide to get married abroad. You can invite more people (knowing many will probably not attend) and a lot of your work could be outsourced to wedding planners in your host country meaning you are free to enjoy the wedding festivities leading up to the big day.

What do I need to know about wedding insurance?

We all love a good fairy tale wedding but what if the wedding day doesn’t always end up being the fairy tale you deserve. Should you consider taking out wedding insurance?

What is wedding insurance?

Just like other insurance policies, wedding insurance covers you financially if something ruins your big day or if it has to be cancelled or delayed. It is particularly useful where you have paid a number of deposits and then realise your big day cannot go ahead.

What to consider before taking out wedding insurance?

  1. What is your wedding expenditure?

Where you have spent in the region of £100 – £30,000 using your credit card, thanks to Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act, you should be able to claim your money back from your credit card provider. This applies to instances where a deposit has been paid.

If you have not used a credit card or spent above this amount, it maybe worth obtaining added protection by way of wedding insurance.

  1. Does your home insurance policy have provision for weddings?

Before taking out wedding insurance, check your home insurance policy, which may make provision for weddings.

  1. Are there any risk factors that could indicate the need for wedding insurance?

Weddings often get cancelled due to the death or hospitalisation of close relatives. Therefore, if you have any vulnerable relatives who could impact the progress of the wedding day if they fall ill, it may be a sensible idea to carry out a wedding insurance.

However, it is important to remember that you cannot cover a situation that you already knew about.

What is and isn’t covered in wedding insurance?

Insurance policies may differ in terms of what they do and don’t cover. However, typically they will cover:

  • Cancellation or rearrangement of a wedding or reception due to illness, accident or bereavement of a member of the main wedding party.
  • A supplier going out of business
  • Loss or damage due to accident, fire or theft to the ceremonial attire, wedding rings, outfits, gifts, flowers, wedding car and wedding stationary
  • The price to retake photographs and video
  • Legal expense
  • Personal liability

The following is usually not covered:

  • Any loss, damage, liability, cost or expense of any kind arising from an event occurring before the period of insurance or caused deliberately by your close relatives or a member of the wedding party.
  • Any loss, damage, liability, cost or expense due to wear and tear.
  • There are sometimes strict rules where theft has occurred, so you are advised to read the rules.
  • Honeymoons are not covered as standard but some providers may include these within your wedding insurance policy.

How much to cover?

You may find it useful to list all your expenses on a spreadsheet to work out the overall cost for your wedding day or reception. This will assist you when you choose the most appropriate wedding insurance cover.

How much does it cost?

Wedding insurance can range from £30.00 to more than £200?

For more information about wedding insurance contact: info@theweddinglawyer.co.uk