Starting a Business In Ireland-What Steps Do You Need to Take?

So, you are thinking of starting a business? And you don’t know what are your legal obligations?

Let’s take a look.

Firstly, consider the legal structure of your business. Will you be a sole trader, partnership, or limited company?

Regardless of which structure you adopt you will need to register with the Revenue Commissioners for taxation purposes. If you set up a limited company, you will be paying corporation tax on your profits; if you do not incorporate a company you will be accounting to the Revenue Commissioners on a self-assessment basis.

You may also need to register for VAT, depending on your business and its turnover, and as an employer.

If you are simply setting up an online business there is no additional regulatory steps you need to take; obviously, you will need a website but you do not need any legal permission or registration for this.

However, if you want to get an Country Code TLD (top level domain) name you will need to apply to IEDR.ie which is the Irish IE domain name registry. This body helps to protect your domain name and provides a process by which domain name disputes can be resolved.

You may also avail of the services provided by Local Enterprise Offices who provide assistance, support, training, and other resources to entrepreneurs and start-ups. The Local Enterprise Office website is worth checking out, too.

From a legal/regulatory perspective you will note that setting up a business is a straightforward task with a minimal number of bureaucratic hoops through which to jump.

The most critical factor in your success will be obtaining clients or customers and providing such a good service or product that your business will grow through a mixture of new client acquisition and repeat business from satisfied customers and good word of mouth.

Once you get a bit of momentum you can look at the most effective ways of promoting your business and acquiring new business. This will almost certainly involve some element of digital marketing, including social media marketing.

Beware of spoofers

You will also need to have an inquiring, learning mind to growing your business and learning from those who have gone before you and made mistakes and successes. You can learn a huge amount from books of successful entrepreneurs, for example. Most of these people made costly mistakes from which you can learn without the need to repeat the mistake.

The power of books in this regard is enormous and if you do not like reading or if you don’t have the attention span to apply your mind to a book for at least one hour per day you are selling yourself short.

But you also run the risk of being misled and misinformed by people who I describe as spoofers; what I am referring to is people who have more knowledge about business or marketing than you do but who could not be genuinely described as expert in the sphere.

There is a qualitative difference between real experience acquired from building businesses over many years and somebody who is now positioning themselves as experts in some sphere of activity when there is no real substance to their claimed expertise, save for them knowing a bit more than you at this stage of your business development.

Don’t fall for it.

Some people have an innate level of cunning or street smarts or lack of naiveté; some people are inclined to naiveté and can be easily parted from their money with a bit of smooth-talking patter. Beware of this problem and if you are inclined to the second category take your time and do plenty of research first before acquiring the services of any supposed expert.

Work that matters

Do work that matters.

There is a qualitative difference between doing the work that matters, doing great work, acquiring clients, growing your business and things that don’t really matter but are inclined to stroke your ego-for example, shallow stuff like mentions, fans, likes, awards that may not amount to a hill of beans.

Don’t fall for this either.

Good luck!

How to Protect Your Domain Name(s)

domain-name-law

Your domain name may be one of the most valuable pieces of intellectual property your business has.

And protecting your asset is a smart, and essential, strategy.

Domain name disputes are becoming an increasing problem for business with the proliferation of website, eCommerce and new businesses going online and trading on the internet.

And infringements occur regularly in the shape of trade mark disputes, cyber squatting and related issues.

It is crucial for any business to have a smart commercial strategy regarding their trade marks and domain names.

Domain Name Basics

Domain names can usually be registered quickly and inexpensively. Top Level Domain(TLD) is the suffix such as ie or uk or fr-it denotes the country.

Within TLDs there are 2 sub-categories

1. Generic TLDs (gTLD) such as .com,.net,.org,.biz. These domain names do not have to be distinctive and do not indicate geographic origin.

2. Country Code TLDs (ccTLD) which are administered by the domain registry of the relevant country; in Ireland this is IE Domain Registry ltd (www.iedr.ir).

In Ireland you must display a real and substantive connection with Ireland when applying for a domain name before iedr will approve your application.

You may also need to show a connection with the business that you are referring to in your domain name application.(Check out IEDR.ie)

Domain name disputes

Domain name disputes have been resolved generally in one of 2 ways-either in court or by reference to the alternative dispute resolution procedure provided by ICANN.

This body has adopted the UDRP (Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy) which apples to generic TLD name disputes.

Some country code administrators have incorporated this procedure into their registration agreements.

This UDRP procedure has been very successful and has resolved many domain name disputes; however it does not provide for damages and so a company that needs immediate injunctive relief and damages will be advised to head for court rather than the UDRP procedure.

Generally the relief provided is simply to have the domain name transferred to the plaintiff.

To win relief at the UDRP you will need to show 3 things

1. the complainant must show that the name is confusingly similar to the name in which the complainant has rights
2. the existing holder has no legitimate interest or rights in the domain name
3. the complainant must show bad faith on the part of the holder of the domain name.

The holder of the domain name can reject the complainant’s case if he could show bona fide use of the name, non commercial use with no intention to profit, evidence that the respondent is known by the domain name.

UDRP also recognise the phenomenon of ‘Reverse Domain Name Hijacking’ which is the occasion when the plaintiff uses the policy in bad faith in an attempt to deprive a registered holder of a domain name of that name.

In ccTLD disputes the domain name registry require further proofs before they cancel or transfer a domain name.

They would need to see some aspect of passing off or trade mark infringement also.

These disputes can be litigated before the appropriate courts as occurred in Jan. 2009 when Sean Dunne, Property Developer went to court in a dispute to obtain D4Hotels.com from John Brennan who had registered the domain name in his own name whilst running D4 hotels group in Ballsbridge.

The IEDR introduced a dispute resolution procedure in 2003 in respect of .ie disputes which you can learn more about on their website.

Conclusion

It is clearly impossible to register all domain names and trade marks which they may feel they need to protect their intellectual property.

Sometimes it is more cost effective to purchase the name from the ‘offender’ rather than go to court or UDRP.

It is important to recognise the difference between trade marks and domain names and it is prudent for a company to register each of their domain names as a trade mark.

Because otherwise their domain name could be registered as a trade mark by a 3rd party.
By Terry Gorry
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