Carling CupOn Saturday 30 July Kaizer Chiefs played Orlando
Pirates for the Carling Black Label Cup. Big deal you say, they
seem to play each other all the time. But this match had an
interesting little twist – the team selections weren't
done by the coaches, but by the fans through SMS voting. For weeks
in advance, Ruud Gullit told all those who cared to listen that
they could 'Be the Coach.'
A fascinating little idea, but just whose was it? Well,
wouldn't you know it, that's in dispute, with a bloke
claiming he had the Eureka moment a few years ago. He claims that
he took his idea to a number of possible takers, who all said
thanks but no thanks. All signed non-disclosure agreements in
advance. All but one that is, who said don't be silly,
we're people of honour, you can trust us. He now claims that he
was, they're not and you can't.
It happens every day – a client comes bounding in and says
I've come up with a great business idea, I want to present it
to a company, how do I patent the trade mark in my copyright? With
great difficulty is the answer, because you can't patent
something like this. Yes, you can get a trade mark registration for
the name you've devised for your brilliant scheme, but unless
the name's absolutely critical to the success of the plan, that
registration will count for nothing. And yes, you have copyright in
any written or artistic materials that you've created, but if
the company doesn't need to copy these materials in order to
use your idea, your copyright counts for nothing either. Sorry!
Here's your bill.
That leaves you with the law of confidential information - if
someone uses your confidential information without your consent you
can take action against them. Although you don't have to put
anything in writing, it's a good idea to get the company to
sign a non-disclosure agreement. This will say that you're
disclosing confidential information in anticipation of a possible
commercial arrangement, and that the company won't use that
information if no deal is struck. But there are still probs
aplentch. Some companies will tell you to sod off, we don't
sign these things, take it or leave it. And commercial realities
will often dictate that you leave it (the information that is,
without any undertaking in return). And, with or without an
agreement, the chances of you successfully taking on a big
corporate are slim. Even if you have the bucks, the company will
almost certainly raise this defence – what you told us or
showed us was nothing new. And trust me, they'll find someone
to say they had the idea long before you came come onto the scene.
Life's a bitch!
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It has always been the practice of the Industrial Property Institute of Mozambique to prohibit the refiling of trade marks that have been finally refused, which has posed a serious obstacle to trade mark applicants...
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