Tuesday, 17 June 2014

What is the Law in your Life?

5 things you need to know about the new Consumer Contracts (Information, Cancellation and Additional Charges) Regulations 2013 which came into force on 13 June 2014:

1.  The Regulations apply to all consumer contracts namely, distance contracts (i.e. telephone or online sales), off-premises (i.e. door-to-door sales), and on-premises (i.e. in store sales) made on or after 13 June 2014. The Regulations replace the Distance Selling Regulations 2000 and the Doorstep Selling Regulations 2008.

2. The Regulations introduce changes affecting all consumer contracts including the following:

The consumer’s express prior consent must be obtained before taking any additional payments (eg for insurance, premium delivery services, etc). Retailers must not use pre-ticked boxes on websites which result in payment being made by the consumer.

Retailers cannot charge more than the basic rate to call a customer service helpline or to discuss any issue with goods or services which have been supplied. 

Retailers must not impose excessive payment surcharges when a consumer pays by certain means (such as credit or debit cards) and businesses will only be able to pass on the actual cost for the payment method (e.g. the actual processing fee).

A new concept of digital content is introduced into UK law (data produced and supplied online e.g. music downloads). Retailers of digital content are bound by the Regulations.

3.  The Regulations introduce changes affecting only distance and off-premises contracts including the following:

The list of pre-contract information the retailer must give to a consumer has been extended. The information required will depend on the way in which the sale is made.

Consumers have the right to cancel contracts for the supply of digital content (such as a music track) up to 14 days after the contract has been entered into.

The cooling off period has been extended from 7 to 14 days after delivery (for goods) or after conclusion of contract (for services).

The retailer must provide a model cancellation form where the consumer has a right to cancel a contract.

If the retailer fails to provide certain pre-contract information, the cooling off period is extended to 12 months.

On-line retailers must make clear where there is an obligation to pay (eg through a labelled ‘pay now’ button.

4.  The Regulations provide certain consumer contracts are excluded, or partially excluded, from the scope of the Regulations. These include contracts relating to: gambling; sale of houses; rental of residential accommodation; package holidays; certain financial services; and perishable goods.

5.   What does this mean for your business?

If you sell to consumers you should review your terms of sale and website as a matter of urgency. It is very likely that changes to processes and/or documentation will be required to comply with the new rules.

Failure to comply could leave you not only with an unenforceable contract, but may also lead to a criminal conviction and/or fine.

Friday, 6 June 2014

What is the Law in your Life?

5 things you need to know about Patents:

1.   A patent protects new inventions and covers how they work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made.

2.   It is a monopoly right for a product or process, granted by the State as a territorial right for a limited period.

3.   To satisfy the terms of the Patents Act 1977 and, therefore, the IPO, the invention must:

(a)  be entirely new. i.e. it must not have been disclosed in any form and must not be in the public domain;

(b) take an inventive step that is not obvious to someone with knowledge and experience in that field; and

(c)  be capable of being made or used practically in some kind of industry.

4.   Not everything can be patented.  Examples of items which are specifically excluded from patent protection in the UK are:-

(a)   a discovery, scientific theory or mathematical method;
(b)  a literary, dramatic, musical or artistic work or any other aesthetic work;
(c)  a way of performing a mental act, playing a game or doing business;
(d)   anything against public policy or morality;
(e)   the presentation of information; and
(f)    an animal or plant variety.

5.  To protect yourself prior to filing for a patent, any discussions or disclosures to third parties should be done under the protection of a Confidentiality Agreement if necessary.