Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Paying for the Privilege

The cost of a Practising Certificate from  the Solicitors Regulation Authority  (SRA) is £1180 (see page for details) for a  period that starts on 1 November and ends on 31 October

The IP Regulator (IPReg ) charges its fees for the calender year and the requests for payment are just going out. For an individual on both registers the fee was £250. There is also an entity fee. See the Practice Fee Regulations  which is a £100 for a SOLO entity but if you paid  before the rules were established was £500.

If you want to litigate or indulge in other reserved activities then you have no choice but there is a lot in the legal world that is not reserved. Non - contentious IP advice, patent and trademark preparation and filing in the UK are open for all, so we have to ask what is the point of being regulated if you have sophisiticated clients who do not need consumer protection.

Legal Professional Privilege is the only point. If you are happy that communications between you and your client can be disclosed in any subsequent litigation then it does not matter. Howver if your practice is likely to involve giving frank advice as to infringment risks and freedom to operate you might want to keep your privilege. One solution that some members have employed is to act as a consultant to a law firm when working on anything contentious.

The image is in the public domain and has the tag "privilege" which could well be the name of a club in Ibiza. It is quite definitely NOT an image of the IP Regulator.

Monday, 7 December 2009

New European VAT Rules

One of the challenges for the SOLO IP practitioner based in the United Kingdom is dealing with your VAT returns. As from 1 January 2010 we have to change the rate of VAT on our bills from 15 back to 17.5%. However that is not all that affects us. IP is a global business so hopefully you have a few non-UK based clients. Since the provision of patent and trademark services is a "service" not a "good", it used to be pretty simple. No VAT for overseas clients and you could forget that strange thing an EC Sales List (ESL). No longer. Within 14 days of your next VAT reporting period HMRC want an ESL from you.

Here is the official Notice. For practical purposes this means you need to record the value of services supplied to EU clients but you still do not charge them VAT. You do need to included their VAT number on your invoices and on the ESL. Most of us have that data already. However I have noticed a few of my European suppliers have been asking for my VAT number recently. Its easy to reply as I have my VAT number in my email footer and their VAT numbers in my database.

I have sent my VAT returns online for sometime and it is a lot simpler than paper. I can do the ESL online too and since I have very few European clients, doing it manuallly after the end of the 1st quarter of 2010 is not a big burden. If you have more, then perhaps its time to look at your accounting software and speak to your accountant. If you are not doing it online yet, now is the time to start. Its very simple.

I am hoping for comments on whether you think these changes have more significance than I have appreciated.