Intellectual property infringement: what you need to know
You might be a company whose noticed someone copying you. Or you could have received a letter claiming that you have copied someone else.
Either way, intellectual property (IP) infringement can be complex for non-legal people to understand.
What kind of things does IP cover?
Intellectual property covers a wide range of different intangible assets. You can read more about these here. Put simply: intellectual property includes things like: trademarks, copyright, patents, design rights (and a lot more).
Once a business has created a: technology, design, or brand; one of the most important things to do is to protect it. Protecting intellectual property means stopping other people from using it without consent. When intellectual property is licensed with consent, it often makes a lot of money for its owners.
Think about your favourite sports team. They likely make a lot of money by allowing manufacturers to make products with their trade marks on them (like the club badge or name). Because of this; smart businesses go out of their way to protect their IP.
When IP is used without consent; it is called intellectual property infringement. This is damaging as infringers often make money off of a business’ hard work – without the owner getting what they’re owed for using it.
Often when infringement occurs; there is some overlap. For example, in copying your new technology; an infringer may have copied a design and a patent. Or by copying your brand, an infringer may have copied a trademark and also passed themselves off as you. For this reason it’s important to get advice from specialist experts – as they are the only ones who understand all of the issues you might face.
Intellectual property: don’t DIY
It is very important to make sure that you are careful in accusing others of infringement. Many areas of intellectual property legislation include “threats” rules. These ensure those who falsely accuse others of infringement can face court action themselves. This is because false accusations (and actions that result) can really damage businesses. Equally if you feel you’re being falsely accused it’s important to know definitively that you are in the right. Only a intellectual property solicitor can tell you this.
Each area also has it’s own legal rules which determine what infringement is; and what occurs as a result. So it is important to be sure of what to do when this affects you.
If you’re being infringed, or have been accused of infringement seek legal advice straight away. Too many people go it alone and end up putting themselves in a far more; difficult, dangerous, stressful (and costly) position.
What expert legal advice will do for you
An expert solicitor will:
1. Identify your IP precisely and what rights it grants you.
2. Identify what IP belongs to you and the extent that something has been copied.
3. Write comprehensive letters before action or cease and desist letters for you. Stopping action before it get too serious and costly.
4. Research acts in question and identify evidence to support your case.
5. Provide information about different Court procedures open to you. Putting together an upfront strategy and costs budget so you’re aware of your exposure when asserting your rights.
6. Correctly identify the individual or company that is infringing your intellectual property. Or if you are accused, whether claims against you are serious.
7. Distinguish criminal (e.g. counterfeiting) with non-criminal activity that requires different processes.
8. Help you put together a damages claim and correctly value your losses.
9. Advise on mediation versus Court action, helping you achieve the outcome that is best for your business.
10. Give you peace of mind and certainty as to your position now – and in the future.
Get it right the first time around (and save time and money).
In intellectual property matters, it is really important to make sure you advise specialist solicitors. They will get the answers first time, without engaging a barrister or counsel. (This is a far cheaper option than going to a non-specialist firm who will outsource this specialist work because they do not have experts to hand).
At Virtuoso Legal, we get the answers right the first time around. We have done so for the past 10 years. Our sole focus on IP means that you have experts supporting you from day one. The majority of our claims settle before Court. This is because we understand IP and can address problems before they get out of hand. Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you need any more information.
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