The Director-General of Trade and Industry, Lionel October, issued a strong message of caution to business owners to be wary of using so-called “consultants” to assist them to register or change the details of companies with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).
“There are small businesses who are falling prey to consultants who are charging up to R3 000 for something that in fact only costs R170,” he said.
“We urge small businesses to be wary of using self-styled business registration consultants who do not add value and are simply charging exorbitant fees for doing what any business owner can easily do themselves,” he said.
The CIPC offices in Sunnyside, Pretoria, frequently swarm with “consultants” who solicit and canvas people entering the premises. They offer to “expedite” and “fast-track” applications and scare would-be customers with warnings of lengthy delays in doing business with the CIPC.
The CIPC has had to put up large banners warning that the CIPC does not employ or use “agents”, and that visitors should be cautious of using “consultants”. Small Business Connect observed agents even stopping cars to offer their services. The CIPC allows anyone to register as a user, so there is no longer any need to use representatives.
In another development, the CIPC has introduced an e-filing service for the lodging of new trademark applications. It successfully rolled out the first-ever e-service in the intellectual property domain.
“It is particularly important to the CIPC that individuals can apply for trademark protection directly with the CIPC, and the new web-based service makes it much easier than it was before,” said Ms Astrid Ludin, Commissioner of the CIPC.
In August 2013, the CIPC launched the new online Annual Return functionality and also launched its partnership with FNB, which allows for registering a business and opening a bank account at the same time via a FNB branch or on the FNB website.
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