Budget 2014 - R&D tax weakened for start-ups

Despite the momentous announcement in the Budget that the Medicare changes will help fund medical research in Australia, the Budget has reduced the incentive for research and development (“R&D”) in other areas. It is expected that the medical research fund will top $20 billion.

The government anticipates that the reduction in the R&D offset will be softened by the already announced reduction in the company tax rate.

Certainly, the company tax rates will go down by 1.5% from 30% to 28.5% from 1 July 2015.

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Legal nonsense

When used on its own, do not expect business law to get you to a sensible or good result. It can happen but it is not a given.

When only purely legal thinking is in operation often business law is a road to nonsense, failure or suboptimal results.

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Making dispute resolution easier and avoidable

The subject of access to justice appeared in three recent readings - an official report, a blog post and a new book. They confirm what is known and suggest improvements.

Access to justice in Australia

The official report is "Access to Justice Arrangements", a 92 page draft report of the Australian Productivity Commission released in April 2014.

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What does WTF mean in a legal context?

WTF is usually thought of as a rude acronym. I've decided to give it a new meaning.

During a meeting yesterday I informed a new client start-up that too often new clients make contact with lawyers after a fire has started. They treat lawyers like the fire brigade.

That's when the client said: "Ah yes, WTF, meaning Where's The Fire". He said go ahead feel free to use it. So I have.

Do yourself a favour stop treating lawyers like the fire brigade – only calling when your house is on fire.

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Insights on engaging and motivating people

Over the last few decades workplace relations, collaboration and new ways of working have become increasingly topical.

Old ideas about organising people, companies and institutions are being proven wrong in today's context. New ideas and solutions are needed.

One element of the discussion is this question: What motivates people to do tasks, especially those that involve higher cognative function? 

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Passing off, taking goodwill takes business

In the valuation of businesses the portion attributed to goodwill is often greater than other items of property such as stock, equipment or work in progress. Pain is felt immediately when a competitor or pirate pass off its business or product as yours.

They are taking your goodwill, a business property right. Protection against this is at the heart of the tort of passing off law.

The use of passing off law is neatly illustrated in an English case involving Rihanna and sale of a designer T-shirt bearing her image.

The case was triggered after Topshop, a major English garment retailer, produced and sold the T-shirt online and in its stores.

Rihanna has an army of minders. They were not happy.

The case was launched as Robyn Rihanna Fenty and Others vs Topshop and Another. The decision was handed down in mid-2013 by Justice Birss in the High Court of Justice, Chancery Division.

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Start-up funding framework in Australia

We bring good news, there are at least seven newish ways to raise funds for start-up ventures. They are less risky than maxing out your credit cards.

They are there for early stage ventures which have no cash, family, friends or local means to raise money.

How you raise funds for a venture is critical to success. In recent years new options have become available.

Fundraising slim pickings

A generation ago, early stage venture funding involved a smaller range of options such as using personal savings, cash flow, personal loans, leasing, deferred payments, sweat equity and selling equity.

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Seven music business models for artists

The music production business and the music consumption habits of the 20th century were shaped by the technologies and distribution channels of the time.

Music was distributed on physical media (eg vinyl, cassettes or CDs), marketed heavily, sold in racks at record stores and consumed via stereo cabinets or other playback devices that shared space with lounge room furniture.

The cost of producing, manufacturing, marketing and distributing recordings was considerable. This mitigated toward the growth of large, well capitalised record companies. Appling economies of scale, they attracted or built the larger acts, shaped their repertoire, offered them major advances to guarantee exclusivity, financed recordings, publicity tours and a range of additional support.

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IP strategy and the rise and rise of Bill Gates

This article was first published in the Computers section of The Australian, 30 August 1994. At that time Microsoft was forced to sign a consent decree with the US Justice Department under anti-trust law. I'm reprising it because it captures considerable research and srategy remains a critical subject.

Cliffs are one of the favourite haunts of students of human evolution. The sides of cliffs expose fossils and layers of archaeological history. In the most primative form of animal husbandry, our ancestors drove creatures great and small over cliffs into gorges and valleys below. Picking among the bones archaeologists have pieced together a story of human evolution with its moral of survival of the fittest.

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Intellectual property is the big banana

The second richest person in the world is credited as having said: "Intellectual property has the shelf life of a banana." Forbes in January 2014 ranks Bill Gates, aged 58, as worth US$57 billion. IP can have the shelf life of a banana. That has not been the case for Mr Gates.

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Entrepreneurs learn from fashion

Fashion and entrepreneurship have been linked since the dawn of industrialisation in Europe in the late 18th century.

About 200 years ago the word "entrepreneur" was made fashionable by someone who grew rich as a cotton factory entrepreneur. The French economic theorist, Jean-Baptiste Say (1767-1832), is credited as the first in continental Europe to write about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship. He was inspired by Adam Smith.

Others who learned from fashion created Hollywood. One hundred years ago the mostly Jewish entrepreneurs of Hollywood had a poor immigrant background, hardly any education, and experience in the garment industry.

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Clues for invention and innovation

"The future is already here, it's just unevenly distributed." This was said in January 2003 by William Gibson, the science-fiction author who coined the word "cyberspace". So if the future is already here, how do you get a piece of it?

Like tomorrow's weather forecast, the clues are already here. So look around you, your mates, home office, business, profession, industry. Where are the opportunities? What are the trends.

Is there something so burningly obvious that you agree with Bob Dylan when he sings "You don't need a weatherman to tell you which way the wind blows."

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How much does a trade mark registration cost?

Our firm starts the process of trade mark registration for clients by charging a minimum application stage fee of $950.

The $950 application stage fee covers professional time by a specialist trade mark lawyer and IP Australia filing costs. It includes:

  • professional availability search and advice (these would otherwise be $550),
  • advice on the "legal design" of the mark,
  • advice on who should be the owner of the mark,
  • selection of an appropriate class in which to file the application, and
  • crafting a description of goods or services for that class.

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Character licensing and merchandising in Australia

Character licensing and merchandising has a relatively recent market in Australia with industry participants and a clear legal framework.

In commercial terms it involves exploiting assets that have a history of working abroad or locally by licensing their use for toys, clothing and other products.

Prominent among these assets are well-known names, logos, images and brands. They are protected by trade mark registrations, typically connected with a character, personality, musical group or highly engaging and promoted new entrant.

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Disruptive innovation in Oz job, car, and property advertising

Reading Killing Fairfax by Fairfax journalist Pamela Williams is a breeze. This is because of its focus on personalities and use of the conventions of fiction writing.

It nails the coffin for Fairfax newspapers dependent on classified advertising and killed by ad-supported online businesses.

Killing Fairfax revisits a personal recent past. I was rarely surprised by the book’s tale, revelations, personalities or their behaviours. What stood out was the stark economics.

This is the story of the loss of wealth and power resulting from the repeated failure of the Fairfax company to react appropriately to trends obvious since at least the late 1990s.

Williams begins, structures and ends her book around these economic facts. Here they are.

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