Author Archives: Toksentjops

Is Uber legal?

Following the death of one of Uber’s employees due to clashes between Uber drivers and taxi drivers, the Department of Labour has clarified its position in terms of labour legislation.

Recently, the Department of Labour acknowledged and applauded the ruling by the Commission for Conciliation, Mediation and Arbitration (CCMA) that Uber drivers are the employees of the company. This decision was in line with the Labour Relations (Act 66 of 1995) as amended. “With regard to the Uber drivers, like any employees, there are no exceptions. They are fully protected by the South African Labour Laws including the Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act 130 of 1993 (COIDA)”, Commissioner Vuyo Mafata said.

Under the Labour Relations Act, any person who falls in that category is an employee and therefore fully covered in terms of labour legislation.

What happens if an Uber driver is injured?

The COID Act compensates employees who are injured or die during the cause of duty. Therefore, it means the beneficiaries of the Uber driver who died after he was allegedly attacked in Pretoria last month qualify for compensation according to the Act. However, the Fund will have to be provided with all the required documents in order to process the claim.

What about the employer, Uber?

For Uber drivers, all of this is good news. Employees will not be penalised or forfeit their benefits because of unregistered employers, instead the employers will be fined. Furthermore, employers must register their companies with the Compensation Fund so that employees are covered under the COID Act.

Reference:

  • “Department of Labour’s position in terms of Uber drivers and CCMA ruling”, Lloyd Ramutloa – the Department of Labour.

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE).

Getting child contact for divorced parents

Contact refers to maintaining a personal relationship with a child. It entitles a person to see, spend time with (visit or be visited) or communicate (through post, by telephone or any form of electronic communication) with a child who does not live with that person. The child’s parent/s or a person other than the child’s parent/s (such as grandparent) can obtain the right to contact a child, provided that the contact would serve in the child’s best interests.

What will the court consider when granting an order in respect of contact?

  1. The best interests of the child.
  2. The nature of the personal relationship between the child and his/her parent/s.
  3. The degree of commitment the parent/s has shown towards the child.
  4. The extent to which the parent/s has contributed towards the expenses in connection with the birth and maintenance of the child.
  5. The likely effect on the child of any change in the child’s circumstances, including the effect of being separated from the parent/s or brothers/sisters with whom the child has been living.
  6. Any family violence involving the child or a family member of the child.
  7. The need to protect the child from any physical or psychological harm that may be caused by subjecting or exposing the child to maltreatment, abuse, neglect, degradation, violence or harmful behaviour.
  8. The child’s age, maturity, stage of development, gender, background and relevant characteristics of the child.
  9. Any disability that a child may have and any chronic illness from which a child may suffer from.

A parenting plan will contain a clause setting out the reasonable contact that the parent of alternate residence shall have with the child during term time and school holidays, taking into account the child’s social, school and extra-mural activities.

​There are an infinite number of possibilities available when drawing up a parenting plan. Jobs, schools and a variety of other factors must still be taken into account. The bottom line is to find a plan that works for the whole family.

References:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

When can spouses get a divorce?

There are only two grounds for divorce, namely the irretrievable breakdown of the marriage; or mental illness or continued unconsciousness of one of the spouses.

Examples of the irretrievable breakdown of a marriage as a ground for divorce include:

  1. the spouses not living together for a continuous period of one year;
  2. abuse towards the spouse or the children;
  3. adultery;
  4. habitual criminality;
  5. drunkenness or drug addiction; or
  6. loss of love and affection between the spouses.

The court’s discretion to grant a divorce order

The court still has discretion not to grant a divorce order, and may postpone the proceedings or dismiss the claim if it appears to the court that there is a reasonable possibility that the parties may reconcile through counselling. If reconciliation is unsuccessful after a few months, the parties may proceed with the same summons. The summons will usually contain the averment that further counselling and/or treatment will not lead to any reconciliation. A court must, therefore, be satisfied that the marriage is really broken down and that there is no possibility of the continuation of a normal marriage.

What if the couple reconciles?

Where the parties reconcile and live together again after the summons was issued and served, it does not necessarily end the divorce proceedings. If, however, the reconciliation is unsuccessful after a few months, the parties may proceed with the same summons. It is extremely important to make sure that the summons is withdrawn formally if you do decide to reconcile. Withdrawal of the summons is formally affected when the plaintiff serves a document referred to as a notice of withdrawal of the summons on the defendant or his/her attorney. If this is not done, a divorce order may be obtained by default without the defendant being aware of it. If a divorce is obtained in this manner, the aggrieved party may approach the court to set aside the order.

Conclusion

Since the present law on divorce is no longer based on the principle of fault, defences like insanity or the plaintiff’s own adultery are no longer valid defences. Therefore, if a divorce is instituted on account of an irretrievable breakdown, there is in fact no defence to prevent the divorce from proceeding. But if the court finds that there is a reasonable possibility of reconciliation, it may postpone the proceedings in order that the parties attempt reconciliation; this, however, is not a defence, but merely amounts to a postponement.

References:

  • Justive.gov.za
  • Legalwise.co.za

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

When does prescription of a debt start?

Debt does not last forever, after a period of time it prescribes and becomes invalid. Prescribed debt can be explained as old debt that has not been acknowledged over a period of three years. This means that a debt prescribes if:

  • You have not acknowledged the debt in the past three consecutive years, either in writing or verbally.
  • You have not made a payment promised to make a payment to the outstanding debt amount.
  • You have not been summoned to make a payment by a creditor for the debt within the past three consecutive years.

Trinity Asset Management (Pty) Limited v Grindstone Investments 132 (Pty) Limited

On 5 September 2017, the Constitutional Court handed down a judgment in an appeal against the judgment and order of the Supreme Court of Appeal (SCA) against Trinity Asset Management (Pty) Ltd (Trinity). The SCA ruled that Trinity’s claim for repayment of a debt of some R4.55 million against Grindstone Investments 132 (Pty) Ltd (Grindstone) was unenforceable because it had prescribed.

The parties entered into a written loan agreement, effective from 1 September 2007, in terms of which Grindstone borrowed a capital amount of R3 050 000 (loan capital) from Trinity. Clause 2.3 of the loan agreement provided that the loan capital was due and repayable to the applicant within 30 days from the date of delivery of Trinity’s written demand.

The majority judgment found that, on a holistic reading of the loan agreement, the parties did not intend to delay when the debt would become due or when prescription would begin to run. The parties’ language in the contract did not signify an intention to delay. The parties simply meant to allow Grindstone 30 days to repay the debt once Trinity had issued demand, not to postpone the due date of the debt to an indeterminate future date. The debt thus became due, and prescription began to run, immediately on conclusion of the contract.

Grindstone therefore raised a valid prescription defence, and the appeal was dismissed.

Conclusion

If you are uncertain about a debt amount or require assistance in this regard, then please contact your financial advisor, who will assist you with taking the next steps.

References:

  • Trinity Asset Management (Pty) Limited v Grindstone Investments 132 (Pty) Limited (CCCT248/16) [2017] ZACC 32 (5 September 2017)

What is Prescribed Debt?

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Can I trade mark a phrase that is similar to another brand?

When a trade mark (brand name, slogan or logo) has been registered, nobody else can use this trade mark, or one that is confusingly similar. If this happens, legal action may result. The Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (“CIPC”) administers the Register of Trade Marks, which is the record of all the trade marks that have been formally applied for and registered in South Africa.

PepsiCo Inc v Atlantic Industries

Atlantic Industries Is the registered proprietor of the trade marks TWIST, LEMON TWIST and DIET TWIST in relation to non-alcoholic drinks. PepsiCo applied to have these marks expunged and applied for the registration of the word mark PEPSI TWIST and of a device mark incorporating the words PEPSI TWIST. PepsiCo applied for the expungement of Atlantic’s marks on the basis that the word ‘Twist’ was not capable of distinguishing a proprietor’s goods and was purely descriptive. The Supreme Court of Appeal (“SCA”) rejected these contentions, finding that the word ‘Twist’ in relation to non-alcoholic drinks was an arbitrary non-descriptive word and that any association with non-alcoholic drinks was at most allusive or metaphorical. There was in any event overwhelming evidence that through extensive use the mark TWIST had become distinctive of Atlantic’s beverages.

Regarding PepsiCo’s application for the registration of its marks, the SCA held that the incorporation, in the proposed marks, of the sole distinctive feature of Atlantic’s marks, namely TWIST, was likely to deceive or cause confusion as to the origins of the beverages manufactured by Atlantic and PepsiCo respectively. The likelihood of deception or confusion was not avoided by inserting PEPSI before TWIST because the latter word played an independent distinctive role in the composite sign.

Conclusion

Whether or word is purely descriptive or not, is irrelevant when considering the word’s relation to a company’s brand or product. Once a phrase or word becomes associated with a product, it will be very difficult, if not impossible, to expunge and trade mark that word or a similar phrase.

References:

  • PepsiCo Inc v Atlantic Industries (983/16) [2017] ZASCA 109
  • Companies and Intellectual Property Commission | CIPC | http://www.cipc.co.za

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Company Slogans: How much of it is Intellectual Property?

Slogans are key elements in advertising campaigns as brand owners hope that the public will associate the slogan with their products or services and, therefore, to their brand. For this reason, the question of protection is of high importance.

What is a trade mark?

A slogan is a short phrase or a sentence that a company uses to identify itself or its products. It identifies the services or goods of one person and distinguishes it from the goods and services of another. An example would be Nike’s slogan, “Just Do It”.

  1. Once a slogan has been registered as a trade mark, nobody else can use it, or one that is confusingly similar. If this happens, legal action may result.
  2. A trade mark can only be protected as such and defended under the Trade Marks Act, 1993 (Act 194 of 1993) if it is registered. Unregistered trade marks may be defended in terms of common law. The registration procedure results in a registration certificate which has legal status, allowing the owner of the registered trade mark the exclusive right to use that mark.

CIPC administers the Register of Trade Marks which is the record of all the trade marks that have been formally applied for and registered in the Republic of South Africa.

What can be registered as a trade mark?

If you want to register a slogan, you must first consider of the slogan in question serves the purpose of distinguishing the goods/services of one trader from those of another trader.

  1. It must not be a customary, everyday phrase that is common for people to use in your field of trade.
  2. It can’t be representations of protected national emblems, such as the national flag or a depiction of a national monument, such as Table Mountain.
  3. It must not be offensive or contrary to the law or good morals or deceptive by nature or way of use.
  4. There are no earlier conflicting rights.

An example of a slogan or phrase that can’t be registered as a trade mark is “24 Hours”, since the expression is reasonably required for use by other traders. If a phrase like this was trade marked, the owner of the registration would acquire the exclusive right to use this phrase and thereby prevent all other traders from using it, which is unreasonable and therefore cannot be allowed.

References:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Domain names and intellectual property

There is often confusion when it comes to registering domains names and intellectual property. The reason for this is simple – when a company needs to decide on a domain name, it generally chooses one of its own trade marks. However, it might be that someone else has already registered a domain name that is similar, or the same, as a company’s trade mark.

As a result, the issues that surface in trade mark disputes often crop up in domain name disputes too. However, the court has already recognised that trade mark principles are applicable in domain name disputes.

Who handles domain name disputes?

When domain names first appeared on the scene, disputes as to who was entitled to the registration of a particular name were handled by the courts, usually by way of trade mark infringement or passing-off proceedings.

  1. But now there are Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) procedures that relate to the various domain names.
  2. So, for example, disputes regarding ‘.co.za’ domain names are handled by way of the ADR procedure that was established by the Regulations passed under the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT Act) 25 of 2002.

When does a domain name have trade mark infringement?

An example of a case which deals with the issue of domain name registrations and trade mark includes kingo.co.za and kingonumbers.co.za.

  1. It was found that, even though the registrant had got in first with a domain name registration (kingonumbers), the complainant, Kingo, had stronger rights to the trade mark Kingo through use, and Kingonumbers would be seen as a natural extension of Kingo.
  2. The review court used this quote from the panel's decision: The crux of this decision is who owns “Kingo”? It is settled law that the person who has appropriated a mark for use in respect of goods or services as a trade mark, may claim to be the proprietor.

When it comes to domain names, if a name has been trade marked by someone else, then you shouldn’t try using it. It would be like registering a domain name such as nikeshoes.co.za – You would be treading on thin ice. However, if your chosen domain name has not been trade marked, then it shouldn’t be a problem, even if another company would seem to benefit from your registered domain name. For instance, registering a domain name such as greatshoes.co.za would not be a trade mark violation if “great shoes” has not be trade marked. If another shoe company wanted to use that domain name, they would have to buy it from you or find another.

Reference:

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

 

What type of IP protection should I get?

Intellectual Property (IP) can exist in the form of an invention, brand, design or artistic creation. IP is an important asset in today’s knowledge economy and should be managed. However, it’s important to know that there are various types of IP protection available.

Types of IP protection

The Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC) of South Africa administers the following IP domains in South Africa: trade marks, patents, designs and copyright.

Trade Marks

  • A trade mark identifies the goods or services of a trader as distinct from those of other traders.
  • The owner has the exclusive right to use, sell or license the trade mark.

Trade marks can include logos, words, letters, numbers, colours, a phrase, sound, scent, shape, picture, aspect of packaging or branding – or any combination of these. The name and slogan of a company, for example, can be trade marked.

Patents

  • A patent protects how an invention works or functions.
  • The owner has the exclusive right to use, sell or license the invention. Patents also allow the owner to stop others from manufacturing, using, copying and/or selling the device or process.

Patents include inventions, such as devices, products, processes, substances or a combination of known elements in any field of industry and agriculture, which are new or have industrial applications. A new way of enhancing people’s hearing, for example, could be patented.

Aesthetic designs & functional designs:

  • The visual appearance of a product is protected, but not the way it works.
  • Appearance that has a feature necessitated by its function.
  • The owner has the exclusive right to use, sell or license the registered design.

This category includes Industrial designs, which could include the shape of a car, for example.

Copyright

  • Automatically protected.
  • The owner has the exclusive right to use, sell or license the copyright work

Copyright would include paintings, art, literature, music, film, broadcasts and computer programs. The moment the work has been created, it is automatically protected.

Reference:

  • The Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission | CIPC

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

Municipal debt invalid, the Constitutional Court has ruled

On 23 May 2017, the Constitutional Court heard an application for confirmation of an order of the High Court of South Africa, that declared section 118(3) of the Local Government: Municipal Systems Act, 2000, constitutionally invalid.

On 29 August, in a ruling majority written by Justice Edwin Cameron, the court found that upon transfer of a property, a new owner is not liable for old municipal debt.

Section 118 of the Municipal Systems Act

Section 118(3) explains that municipal debt on any property is a charge upon that property and enjoys preference over any mortgage bond registered against the property. However, the question was whether this means that, when a new owner buys the property, the property remains with the debts of a previous owner.

What did the court say?

The court ruled that section 118 (3) is “well capable of being interpreted”, so that the historical debt is not transferred to a new owner of the property.

“What is notable about section 118(3) is that the legislature did not require that the charge (historical debt) be either registered or noted on the register of deeds. Textually, there is no indication that the right given to municipalities has a third-party effect (to a new owner)… It (historical debt) stands alone, isolated and unsupported, without foundation or undergirding and with no express words carrying any suggestion that it is transmissible,” the court said in the judgement.

References:

  • The Constitutional Court of South Africa
  • “Concourt rules new homeowners not liable for debts of previous owners”, Ray Mahlaka, The Citizen, 29 August 2017. https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/1631149/concourt-rules-new-homeowners-not-liable-for-debts-of-previous-owners/
  • Jordaan and Another v City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and Others; New Ventures Consulting & Services (Pty) Ltd and Others v City of Tshwane Metropolitan Municipality and Another; Livanos and Others v Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality and Another; Oak Plant Rentals (Pty) Ltd and Others v Ekurhuleni Metropolitan Municipality (74195/2013; 13039/2014; 13040/2014; 19552/2015; 23826/2014) [2016] ZAGPPHC 941; [2017] 1 All SA 585 (GP); 2017 (2) SA 295 (GP) (7 November 2016)

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)

New requirements to re-instate a company or close corporation

A company or close corporation may be deregistered upon request from the company or close corporation or any other third party. A company or close corporation may also be re-instated. However, since the withdrawal of Practice Note 6 of 2008, and its replacement with Notice 08 of 2017, there are new requirements for the re-instatement.

The Practice Note is issued in terms of Regulation 4(2)(b) of the Companies Regulations, 2011, and is applicable to the re-instatement of companies and close corporations in terms of Companies Regulation 40(6) and (7).

What are the new requirements?

Since December 2016, to re-instate a company or close corporation, the re-instatement application on a form CoR40.5 must comply with the following requirements regardless of the cause or date of deregistration:

  • Certified identity copy of the applicant;
  • Certified identity copy of the owner of the customer code;
  • Multiple deed search (deed search of each of the 10 regional deeds offices);
  • Letter from the Department of Public Works, only if the multiple deed search reflects immovable property;
  • Sufficient documentary proof indicating that the company or close corporation was in business or that it had any outstanding assets or liabilities, at the time of deregistration;
  • Mandate from the applicant confirming that the customer may submit on his/her behalf.

When can a company or close corporation be re-instated?

CIPC will only consider re-instating a company or close corporation if it can provide proof that it was conducting business at the time of deregistration, or has any other economic value. Furthermore, upon the successful processing of the re-instatement application, all outstanding annual returns must be filed in order to complete the process, within 30 business days from date of the re-instatement.

Reference:

  • Companies and Intellectual Property Commission | CIPC. Practice Note 08 of 2017, Requirements for re-instatement in terms of Regulations 4(2)(b).

This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as legal or other professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your legal adviser for specific and detailed advice. Errors and omissions excepted (E&OE)