There are 3 IMPORTANT legal questions to really think about when starting a business:

  1. Is your business name truly available?
  2. Can you protect the intellectual property (IP) of your product?
  3. What legal agreements does your business require?

It’s critical to ask these questions before you launch so that you can avoid pitfalls, like having to rebrand six months after starting your business because you are infringing on someone else’s registered trade mark.

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Talk to us about Brand Protection, Product Protection,
or Legal Agreements

1. Starting a Business: Is Your Business Name Truly Available?

You spend a lot of time and energy choosing the perfect name for your business or product. But how do you know if the name is truly available?

When you register a company, the process starts with a company name search. And if that search is clear, then great. You can register your company with that name.

But that still does not mean that the name is truly available.

While a company name is registered at CIPC, it does not give you the rights to that name, as you would expect. In fact, it is a registered trade mark that protects the reputation of a name associated with specific goods or services.

There are two databases at CIPC: One for trade marks and one for company names. And unfortunately, these two do not communicate or interact with each other at all. So that means that to make sure that a name is truly available, you need to do a company name search AND a trade mark search.

It is essential to conduct a trade mark search. Because even though the name might not be identical to a registered trade mark, it may still cause infringement if it is confusingly similar to a registered trade mark.

And in this day and age, you should also do a few Google searches and a domain search to make sure that that perfect web address is also available. And it’s important to do all this homework before you launch.

Also, if your business name is truly available, you should register your trade mark as soon as possible. Imagine having to rebrand six months later because you are infringing on someone else’s registered trade mark!

2. Starting a Business: Can You Protect the Intellectual Property of Your Product?

Registered patents and designs protect your product. The important thing to remember is that to file a patent for your product, it must be novel and inventive. And to file a design for your product, the shape and look of your product must be new.

If you’ve launched your product or you’ve made it public in any way, that product is not considered new anymore, and you’ve missed the opportunity for a valid patent. However, for designs, there is something called a grace period, which allows you to file a design for up to six months after you’ve first made your product public.

A patent provides you with a monopoly on your product for 20 years, and a registered design provides a 10-year monopoly, where no one else can manufacture or sell a copy of your product. What would that be worth to your business?

Our registration process always starts with a Preliminary Assessment. Whether it’s a design assessment or a patentability assessment, we determine which protection mechanism, if any, is best suited for your product. And best of all, we offer these assessments FREE of charge.

If you have a new product design or invention, you’ve done a few Google searches and you believe your product is new, unique, and inventive, let us know and we’ll gladly have a look.

3. Starting a Business: What Legal Agreements Does Your Business Require?

To answer this question, you would first need to determine which of the crucial roles in your business will be performed in-house, and which will be performed by an external third party. Because if a crucial part of your business is executed externally, it is vital to have that relationship and its expectations clearly documented. When someone else is distributing or manufacturing your product for you, or if you run your own dropshipping business, it is important to have these vital agreements in place.


External Distributor

If you are using an external distributor, you are allowing a third party to sell, market, and profit from the sale of your product. So, a distribution agreement would typically cover aspects such as territory, exclusivity rights, and reporting requirements, as well as licensing your IP. So, for example, how is the distribution company allowed to use your brand?

Third-Party Manufacturer

On the other hand, if you make use of a third-party manufacturer, a manufacturing agreement would define aspects such as the number of goods, the quality of the goods you want to produce, as well as managing manufacturing defects. The agreements would also describe aspects in relation to your intellectual property (IP). For example, if you have a registered patent or a design, the agreement would define the rights and restrictions of your manufacturer and would allow you to license this IP to the manufacturer.


Dropshipping is, obviously, a trend in start-up and online business, where you, as the store owner, do not need to manage inventory. Instead, you buy products from your supplier, who also manages deliveries for you. So you never need to have possession of the product. Instead, you market it, accept orders, pass the orders to your supplier, who then delivers to the client.

So your dropshipping agreement needs to define aspects such as price increases, the return policy, as well as delivery rate charges. These are important aspects to understand because you need to convey these terms and conditions to your customers. Remember, they are YOUR customers after all, and nothing kills return business such as an unclear or ineffective return policy.

All these different business models utilize some sort of external party who is typically an expert at what they do. So this is an excellent way when starting your business to get it up and running as soon as possible by leveraging their experience, manpower, and infrastructure.

These are all mechanisms to launch your business much faster, but to be able to benefit from these mechanisms you really need to ensure that you have the correct contracts in place in whichever form that may be.

So before starting a business, remember to first find the answers to the following questions:

  1. Is your business name truly available?
  2. Can you protect the intellectual property of your product?
  3. What legal agreements does your business require?

Also, we have a step-by-step video guide to show you how you can register a company yourself for only R175.

If you need help, we have IP Braai Company Registration Packages from R1050.

Order a Vleis & Ys thermo, as featured in the video.

Legal Templates

Talk to us about Brand Protection, Product Protection,
or Legal Agreements

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