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Intellectual Property Disputes

Infringement of Intellectual Property

Intellectual property assets can comprise some of the most valuable assets of a business; Disputes over intellectual property are therefore often business-critical. Usually such disputes relate to the copying or other unlawful use of an innovative product or process, brand or other valuable intellectual property asset that is protected in law; This is referred to as “infringement”.

How we help

The in-depth knowledge and many years of experience of our intellectual property solicitors enables us to quickly identify the relevant commercial and legal issues, and to work with you pro-actively to achieve your objectives swiftly and cost-effectively.

Intellectual property (IP) law is complex and highly technical, and therefore it is crucial to obtain specialist advice at an early stage. Consulting our team early often identifies a course of action that can resolve a potential dispute before Court action occurs. If the dispute does result in Court action, you need robust, strategic advice, regular updates and clear information about costs.

Consulting our IP lawyers early also helps to avoid the risk of making unjustified threats of infringement proceedings. Making unfounded or inaccurate claims of infringement against a third party (particularly against customers of, or suppliers to, an alleged infringer), can potentially give that alleged infringer a legal claim against you. Avoiding pitfalls like this by getting early specialist advice is essential to ensure your claim is successfully managed.

Our advice helps businesses and individuals to manage, protect and exploit their IP. However we also act for those who have been accused of infringing third party IP rights. If you have therefore received a letter alleging that you infringe a patent, a trade mark or any other IP right, please get in touch with us.

Areas of Expertise

Our areas of expertise in IP disputes includes but is not limited to:

Trade Mark Infringement & Passing Off Claims

Registered trade mark rights protect signs (including logos, words or pictures) that distinguish one trader’s goods/services from those of another. A registered trade mark gives the owner a monopoly on its use, and enables them to prevent others from using that mark on the goods/services in respect of which it is registered. Registered trade mark owners can also prevent others from using similar marks, on similar goods/services, where it can be shown that there is a likelihood of confusion on the part of the public.

If you have a well-known brand, but no registered trade mark, you may be able to bring legal proceedings for “passing off” if you have developed customer goodwill under that brand, and a third party uses that brand to misrepresent an association or connection with you, causing you damage and loss.

We act in trade mark infringement and passing off proceedings before the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court and the High Court, as well as opposition proceedings at the Intellectual Property Office.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright protects the permanent expression of original artistic, literary, dramatic or musical works, sound recordings, film and broadcasts. Books, songs, sculptures, plays, paintings and computer code (software) are therefore some of the works that are protected by copyright. Unlike patents and other registered IP rights, copyright arises automatically upon creation of a copyright work, and does not require any registration. Copyright provides the owner with the exclusive right to copy, issue copies, rent or lend, perform, show, play, communicate or adapt the copyright work. Copyright is therefore infringed by anyone who carries out any of the copyright owner's exclusive rights without the permission of the copyright owner (unless an exception applies).

Our copyright lawyers can advise on what copyright may exist, how those rights can be exploited, and can help you enforce your rights if your work has been copied or used without your permission.

Misuse of Confidential Information

It has been said that “data is the new oil”, and litigation over the misuse of confidential information is increasingly common, often in the context of employees or directors leaving an established business and then setting up a new business. Quick action is vital in this context, if the information is to retain its value. Whilst we have acted for owners of information, we also have very significant experience in acting for those who are alleged to have unlawfully used or taken confidential information. If you are on the receiving end of such a claim, please talk to us.

Patent Infringement, Registered & Unregistered Design Right Infringement

Patents protect new products, methods or processes that are inventive over what was already known in the relevant field of technology at the time the patent is filed. A patent grants the owner a monopoly of up to 20 years over working the invention described in the patent. If the invention is a product, it will be an act of infringement to import that product, to make it, to sell it or offer to sell it or to keep it for the purpose of selling it. If the invention is a process, using that process or selling a product made using that process will infringe the patent.

Registered design rights can protect the appearance of a product resulting from features such the shape, texture or materials of the product, provided the designs are new and have “individual character”. The right must be registered, and can last for up to 25 years.

Unregistered design rights protect the shape or configuration of original industrial designs, and arise automatically when an original design is made or recorded in a design document. Designs that are commonplace in their design fields cannot be protected. The owner of unregistered design right can prevent third parties from copying their design, but independent creation is a defence for an alleged infringer.

Potential Remedies

There are a number of potential remedies available from the Courts to successful claimants in IP disputes, including:

  1. A Court injunction to prevent future infringement;
  2. Compensation (damages) for the infringing activity based either on the loss suffered by the owner or the (unlawful) profits made by the infringer from the infringement;
  3. Destruction or delivery up of the infringing materials;
  4. Publication of the Court judgment in relevant trade press.

If you need advice on protecting your IP and preventing others from unlawfully using your IP, please contact LCF Law for an initial discussion.

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