Intellectual Property Litigation

If you believe that your or your business's intellectual property is being infringed, it is imperative you seek and obtain expert legal help as soon as possible. You may be entitled to a range of remedies for intellectual property infringement, including damages. The solicitors at JMW are highly experienced in intellectual property litigation and can provide the expert guidance you need to secure a favourable outcome.

Contact our team today to speak about your situation in more depth. We can discuss your options and answer any questions you may have. Simply call us on 0345 872 6666 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as we can. 

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Why Choose JMW?

JMW's solicitors are highly experienced in a wide range of intellectual property matters. We will provide as much guidance and advice as you need, ensuring you fully understand your rights and the options available to you. Our team is highly regarded throughout the UK and we offer a personalised service to make sure all of your needs are met.

Our areas of expertise include:

We have a team of people here who are vastly experienced in the protection of business assets and will fight to protect your interests. We can advise on what rights apply in any given circumstances, how to ensure they are protected and what to do in the unfortunate event that things go wrong.

Our team is dynamic and places emphasis on understanding our clients' specific needs, and can handle the most complex of intellectual property disputes.

Trademark Infringement

Trademark infringement occurs if another party, in the course of trade, uses a sign that is substantially identical and confusable with, or deceptively similar to, a trademark already in use. Well-known brands are frequently targets for this type of activity with disingenuous competitors offering poor quality or inferior substitute goods and services.

In today's world, it is common for duplicitous companies, organisations and individuals to use the commercial advantages and assets of others, such as trademarks, in unfair or illegal attempts to succeed in business. Infringement of trademarks can be a significant threat to successful businesses, harming revenues and profits as well as commercial standing, character and reputations that have been hard-earned.

Counterfeiting

Trademark infringement is a serious problem happening increasingly around the globe, often through the act of counterfeiting, with the range of fake goods and pirated items increasing hugely. It is important for trademark owners to maintain vigilance of their marks in the marketplace. Where infringement arises, knowledge and application of the law is able to protect businesses, their intellectual property and related assets. The law is crucial for tackling infringement cases, from knowing what is unlawful to what is within the law. For trademarks, it is possible to use legal measures, including enforcement action if necessary, to protect the brand identity of businesses.

For a legal action to succeed it must be established that a trademark has been infringed; however, it is not uncommon for enterprises to encounter identical or confusingly similar trademarks.

Pursuing trademark infringers

If marks appear to be infringed, JMW's trademark lawyers recommend pursuing proactive approaches against offenders that demonstrate a rigorous and aggressive defence of trademarks. Our established record of legal intervention and litigation shows that infringers are less likely to consider imitating the trademarks of businesses that develop and build such an aggressively defensive reputation.

Failure to act can risk losing a trademark. Commercial threats from small-scale infringers may seem low risk but turning a blind eye at this stage could see a trademark diluted in value. Subsequently, it could make future legal action more difficult.

Design Right Infringement

Design rights refer to the legal protection available to the owner of an item, regarding that item's physical appearance or design (either made for industrial use or by handcraft). Laws exist to protect the owner of an item from design right infringement or other misuse of their product. If you are involved in a dispute over design rights, JMW's expert solicitors can help you to bring the situation to a resolution.

Design rights are not concerned with how an item works but how it looks. When considering the design of a product, the following elements will be taken into account:

  • The outward appearance
  • The lines
  • The contours
  • The colours
  • The shape
  • The texture and materials
  • The ornamentation

There are four main protections available to protect designs:

UK-registered design rights

UK-registered design rights allow the owner of a design to apply to the Intellectual Property Office to gain registered legal protection for that design. The law is governed by the Registered Designs Act 1949. Registered design rights protect the 2D and 3D features of the appearance of a product (but not its mechanical function). Registered design rights provide protection for the design for up to 25 years.

UK-unregistered design rights

Unregistered design rights automatically subsist in the 3D appearance of a design when that design is recorded in a design document, or an article is made to the specifications of that design. Unregistered design rights are governed by the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988, which provides protection for any aspect of the shape or configuration (whether internal or external) of the whole or part of an article. Unregistered design rights provide protection for between ten and 15 years (the rules on the duration of the unregistered designs are complex and depend on individual circumstances).

Registered community design rights

Registered community designs provide EU-wide protection for the appearance of a product or part of a product. Registered community design rights were introduced by the Regulations on Community Designs 2001 (6/2002/EC) and offer similar protection to UK-registered design rights.

Unregistered community design rights

These rights were also introduced by the Regulations on Community Designs 2001 (6/2002/EC). They are automatically triggered when a design is first made available within the EU. Protection is available for both 2D and 3D designs, but the duration of the protection is only three years.

As the owner of a design right, you usually have the benefit of exclusive use of that design for a specific period. If someone uses your design without your authority, JMW can advise you about the options available to enforce your design rights. The law applicable to design rights is very complex. We recommend you contact us before you make any registered designs applications, or if you have any concerns that your design rights are being infringed by another individual or company. 

Database Right Infringement

Data is held and used as part of almost all businesses, and it can be the key element that helps your business to grow and succeed. In most cases, it is important for vital business information, such as the private details about customers or accounts, to be kept safe and confidential. If you are involved in a dispute over data, whether you suspect a competitor has accessed private information or an employee has used information for their personal gain, we can help.

Over time, as your business grows, you can accumulate a lot of knowledge about your customers and their likely needs. Any such information that can be reviewed and searched is likely to be extremely valuable to your business and could be one of your biggest commercial assets. With this in mind, the damage it could cause to you if it were to get into the hands of a competitor is clear.

Database rights protect a collection of independent works, data or other materials that:

  • Are arranged in a systematic or methodical way
  • Are individually accessible by electronic or other means

It should also be demonstrated there has been a substantial investment in obtaining, verifying or presenting the contents of the database. Database right can protect contact cards, customer lists, mailing lists, directories, timetables and order histories, regardless of whether they exist in paper or electronic form.

Your database right is infringed if someone who is not the owner of it extracts or reuses all or a substantial part of its contents without your permission. This could include making a paper copy, emailing its contents to any other person or publicising any part of the database. A substantial part could be a significantly large part or could be a small, but valuable, part.

FAQs

  1. Do I have a database that can be protected?

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    Independent Works: The data itself must have been taken from an independent source, i.e. it must be data that already exists.

    Arranged Systematically/Methodically and Individually Accessible: It could be arranged in alphabetical order, customer number order or by geographical area, for example. If it is of use to your business, it is likely to be arranged in a way that fits this description and, if it is arranged in this way, you will be able to access its individual entries.

    Substantial Investment in the Contents: The creation of a customer list or other database of any value to your business is likely to have taken the investment of time and money. The requirement for that investment to be substantial can be in terms of quality or quantity and can relate to labour time, cost or the use of technology, which in essence means most databases of any value will be included.

  2. Who owns the right?

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    The right arises automatically and is owned by the person who in effect takes responsibility for putting together the database. Anything created during the course of employment is likely to be owned by the employer. Licences may be given to others to use the database but this does not usually mean the ownership will have passed from the first owner.

  3. How long does the right last?

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    The database right lasts for 15 years from the date of its creation, but can last much longer if the data is being continually reviewed and updated.

Breach of Confidential Information

The confidential information of a business is a vital asset and this has become increasingly true in world where information can be distributed in an instant via digital communication and media. Most businesses will invest time, money and resources to develop the confidential information that is often a key part of its operations. This information should be protected fiercely from misuse, just as any business would take measures to protect its physical assets.

Confidential information can take a wide variety of forms depending on the nature of the information and the business to which it relates. Common examples of confidential business information include:

  • Customer, client or supplier lists
  • Internal operational documents
  • Designs, blueprints and drawings
  • Business plans
  • Financial information
  • Online account contacts such as connections on social media websites

In order for information to be classed as confidential information, the following must be true:

  • The information has the necessary quality of confidence;
  • The information is imparted in a way that imposes an obligation of confidence;
  • There has been an unauthorised use of the information to the businesses detriment; and
  • The information has a commercial value

Confidential information can be breached in a variety of ways. This makes it difficult for a business to protect against all eventualities. Some of the most common ways confidential information can be breached are:

  • Employee misuse of confidential information - for example by accessing and selling customer lists to a competitor
  • Confidential information disclosed during commercial negotiations. Unauthorised access of confidential information by a competitor who seeks to use that information for commercial benefit or to the detriment of your businesses   

Complaints of such breaches are increasing at a significant rate. This is arguably due to the vast increase of confidential information being stored by businesses electronically, which can provide more frequent access to such information, increasing the risk of it being misused.

If confidential information is breached it is important to act quickly and pro-actively to protect what is a valuable asset to your business. Protecting your confidential information is no different from stopping an intruder entering physical premises. In fact, the consequences of not acting when confidential information is breached may cause much greater financial loss to your business.

The types of remedies that may be available to your business if there is a breach or potential breach of confidential information include:

  • An emergency injunction to stop it
  • Damages
  • Delivery up of confidential information that is wrongfully in a 3rd party's possession
  • An account of any profits made from unauthorised use of your confidential information

Talk to Us

Speak to our expert solicitors about any intellectual property litigation matter today. We are here to provide the guidance you need in an area of law that is often seen as highly complex. Simply call us on 0345 872 6666 or complete our online enquiry form and we will get back to you as soon as we can. 

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