Contracts and Technology

Our Contracts and Technology team works across many sectors, advising on every aspect of structuring, planning, negotiation and implementation of commercial contracts. We also provide assistance and advice concerning the protection and exploitation of intellectual property.

Our areas of expertise cover all aspects of contracts and contract law, including commercial contracts and other commercial arrangements, including but not limited to:

Contact a member of our team for more information.
Areas of Expertise
Sector Insights

Within our dedicated Contracts and Technology Department we have market-leading expertise in negotiating distribution, reseller, agency and OEM agreements and software licences working with leading global organisations. We also provide assistance and advice concerning the protection and exploitation of intellectual property, and data protection regulations.


A company name ending with the word “Limited” or “Ltd” is required for incorporation of a private limited company. The name you select will obviously be determined by what best fits your business, however, there are some legal factors which should inform your decision. As a general rule, if someone in a similar field to yours is already using a particular business or organisation name, you should not use it, nor should you use a name that would be confusingly similar. Choose a name for your business that is distinctive, not one that is generic or similar to the name of another similar business. Consider protecting your chosen business name as a registered trade mark to protect it from infringement.

By law, if a business (Business A) has developed a reputation in connection with particular goods or services which it offers, then Business A will be entitled to prevent any other business from representing that its goods and services are those of Business A by means of an action for passing off.  Just as this protection can be relied upon by Business A, it is available to other businesses against Business A, should it seek to pass-off. Similarly, you cannot use a logo or name which is similar to a registered trade mark, providing similar or identical goods or services, without running the risk of a trade mark infringement claim.

Your chosen name must not contain any words deemed sensitive by Companies House (for example the word “holdings” can only be used where the company is in fact a holding company of one or more subsidiaries).

Company names cannot be reserved in advance of incorporation.


Any business operating in Northern Ireland and holding information from which living individuals can be identified will be subject to data protection legislation. This legislation regulates the collection, processing and disposal of personal data, and sets a higher standard of protection for sensitive personal data (for example, medical information). Read the Data Protection Act here.

Some of the key obligations under data protection legislation include:

  • Developing a Privacy Policy: Notifying customers, users of your website and others as to how you will obtain, record, hold, use, disclose and erase their personal data.
  • Drawing Up Employee Data Protection Policies: Providing the requisite information to employees through employee handbooks or employment contracts or a combination of both.
  • Register with the Information Commissioner’s Office or ICO: Unless you are exempt, all data controllers are currently required to register with the ICO via the website.


The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a European Union (EU) Regulation intended to strengthen and unify data protection for all individuals within the EU. It also addresses the export of personal data outside the EU. The primary objectives of the GDPR are to give control back to citizens and residents over their personal data and to simplify the regulatory environment for international business by unifying the regulation within the EU. The regulation comes into force on the 25th May 2018.

In light of the UK’s impending Brexit, it is worth noting that this is likely to be one area of law which will remain unaffected by the UK’s departure, as any entity which trades in the European Union will be required to comply with GDPR.

The main changes introduced by the GDPR include:

  • Consent to processing must now be given explicitly and affirmatively. This will likely remove the ability to rely on silence or inactivity (such as failing to tick a box) to prove consent to the processing of data. Consent may also be withdrawn at any time, and must not be used as a pre-condition for a contract for which data processing isn’t necessary;
  • Data Processors (being those who are processing data on behalf of another entity) will now be subject to compliance requirements too; and
  • Subject Access Requests must be complied within 1 month, instead of within 40 days.


Northern Ireland has very strict intellectual property laws, which fall into line with the wider UK intellectual property regime. These protect the names, ideas, products, designs and written word of businesses. In Northern Ireland, there are two main types of IP rights:

  • Unregistered
  • Registered

Unregistered Rights, arise automatically, and include:

  • Copyright

Protects original artistic expressions such as literary, artistic works or software code. Copyright subsists for the author’s life and usually for 70 years after their death.

  • Unregistered Design Rights

Protects the appearance of a functional product based on certain designs for 10 years after products based on that design were first sold, or 15 years after the design was created, whichever is the lesser period.

  • Goodwill or “Unregistered Trade Marks”

Where a business has acquired “goodwill” in a brand from trading under that brand, it may have acquired unregistered trade mark rights.

Registered Rights, these are granted on application to an official body such as the UK Intellectual Property Office. Key registered rights include:

  • Patents (time to allow for application: up to 5 years)

A registered patent grants the owner the right to exclude others from making, using, or selling an invention, industrially applicable process or device based on the patent for 20 years from the filing date.

  • Registered Trade Mark (time to allow for application: 4 months)

A registered trade mark gives the owner the right to the exclusive use of the mark in connection with the goods or services for which it is registered. The same trade mark may be registered for different classes of goods or services.

  • Registered Designs (time to allow for application: 1 month)

A registered design gives the owner the right to exclusive protection for its design, and can last for 25 years. The design is protected across all sectors and is not limited to the product to which it was originally applied.

Before you start filing for patents, trade marks and designs, it will be important for you to research what has already been registered.

An advantage for Northern Ireland is the Commercial Court, a division of the High Court in Northern Ireland, which deals with commercial disputes, including IP disputes of significant value. A party can apply to have a case listed in the Commercial Court. The advantage of the Commercial Court is that its cases are regularly reviewed by the Commercial Judge who will case manage the litigation with a view to progressing all cases as expeditiously as possible. The Courts in Northern Ireland are becoming increasingly focused on early implementation of forms of Alternative Dispute Resolution such as Mediation.


"Very effective and fast response to questions, with a good understanding of the requirements. They didn't just follow what was requested but suggested alternatives and added value to the negotiations."
Chambers UK
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