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Welcome to our April collection of articles and ideas for clever business owners and operators.

This month we discuss business name ownership and take a look at the Oracle vs Google case where the use of open source JAVA API's may constitute copyright infringement. We discuss employer OH&S duties to at-home employees and put the spotlight on our own Dr Melanie Tan after three weeks with Rankin & Co.


Who Owns the Business Name - A Lesson for Business

The art deco doors of the Paragon café remained open throughout two world wars, three transfers of business and multiple financial crises. Now, despite purchase offers in multiples of the owner's asking price, the business's 102 years of operation is set for a tragic end.

What/who could be responsible for the death of such a robust business? The cause, as it turns out, is an unrelenting dispute between the landlord and restaurateur as to who owns the business name. On the one hand the current business owner insists that she has the rights to use the name. On the other hand, the land lord argues that the name is part of the property. It appears that neither the lease agreement, nor the contract of sale touch on business name ownership. The parties may face a costly legal battle.

There are two key lessons to be salvaged from the Paragon café. Firstly, when purchasing a business, it is essential that both parties understand what is being exchanged. At the outset, parties should specify whether the business name and other associated IP are part and parcel of the transaction. Similarly, the parties must determine which assets belong to the business and whether those assets may be contested by a separate entity (e.g., a landlord).

Secondly, the Paragon Café demonstrates the value of a business name. A brand is the cornerstone of a business. It is the identity of the business; the means by which the public recognise and engage with the business. Despite the importance of branding, too often businesses leave their brand exposed to imitation, attack and dispute.

Don't make the same mistake. Whether it’s a corner street café, or big business, Rankin & Co. will guide you through the process of buying or selling your business. Rankin & Co. is also committed to protecting your intellectual property and brand through various means including copyright, patents, trademarks and confidentiality agreements.


Software Developers Beware

The use of open source JAVA API’s may constitute copyright infringement. The most recent developments in the Oracle vs Google saga suggest that open source API’s may be subject to fair use restrictions. As the panel of judges stated, "there is nothing fair about taking a copyrighted work verbatim and using it for the same purpose and function as the original in a competing platform."

Read more about the case here


Employer’s OH&S Duties To Employees Who Work From Home
Employers may be responsible for employee injuries sustained while working from home. An employee’s home fits within the definition of a workplace and, per the OHS ACT 2004, employers have an obligation to provide and maintain a working environment that is safe and without risk to health.

For further information regarding employer OH&S duties to at-home employees click here


Dr Melanie Tan, Lawyer and Medico-Legal Consultant
It’s been three weeks since Melanie Tan joined Rankin & Co. and the same dialogue has played out a dozen times. It starts with a handshake followed by the exchange of names and job titles and, shortly thereafter, invariably, there is an interjection; ‘hang on, you’re a doctor AND a lawyer?’. ‘Yes’, Mel nods; humbly, patiently.

It was around my third viewing of this scene that I became self-conscious of my own introduction, of my ambush of questions like what compels a person to study both medicine and law and how can one practise two of the most demanding professions at the same time.

Yes, Dr Melanie Tan is a dually qualified, simultaneously practising lawyer and doctor and, as we are very proud to announce, she is the latest member of the Rankin & Co. team.

So, what does compel a person to study both medicine and law? According to Mel, these are essential tools for the provision of sound, meaningful advice at the interface of both disciplines. As a lawyer and medico-legal consultant with Rankin & Co., Mel offers general medico-legal advice, supported by a wide range of legal services relevant to healthcare providers. This includes employment advice, business and business succession planning (with tax expertise), trademark and intellectual property advice, general commercial/contractual advice and dispute resolution across all areas (including defamation claims).

If you are healthcare provider and are seeking tailored legal solutions from someone who understands your needs, then get in touch with us today.

Thanks again for reading. If you have any queries or would like to discuss any legal issues please don’t hesitate to contact me on 0422 736 206 or

Yours sincerely,
Rob Roy Rankin

p: +61 422 736 206   l    f: +61 3 9923 6970
e:   l

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