Intellectual property disputes

Intellectual property disputes

Intellectual property is often one of the most valuable but easy to steal assets that your business will own. It is often the very thing that defines and identifies your business or makes it the success it is.

The types of intellectual property that your business can own and protect are broad and include copyrighted works, trade marks, patents for products you have created, confidential information (including customer lists/pricing structures) or preventing someone from passing off themselves or their product as associated with you.

At Palmers Solicitors, we provide clear and frank advice on protecting, licensing or transferring IP rights, and the action that should be taken if a dispute occurs relating to any rights you own or might have.

Should a dispute arise, we are able to take immediate injunctive or other action on your behalf. We can advise on a wide range of matters, including but not limited to the following common areas:

To find out more about the legal support we can offer, please contact us.

Infringement of trade marks or passing off (including domain name disputes)

Trade Marks

A trade mark is your business’ brand. It is the very thing that distinguishes you (and your products/services) from others. Indeed, it is for that very reason that you will have decided to register your own trade mark, to make sure that customers choosing a product/service know who they are choosing to buy that product/service from and what they are getting.

It is often thought that trade marks are limited to business names. However, they can comprise a variety of different things including the name, the logo you use or even a particular shape.

When you register a trade mark it gives your business the exclusive right to use that particular trade mark and in registering your mark you have taken the first step towards properly protecting your identifying “get up”.

However, simply registering a trade mark will not stop others from trying to use an identical or a similar version that might confuse your current or prospective customers. It is therefore vitally important to ensure that you protect your trade mark from infringing actions of others.

At the same time you might find that you have developed your own new mark or brand but that a competitor has written to you alleging that you are infringing their trade mark. It might be that you consider that your mark is different, whether in its own appearance or in the product it relates to and you wish to defend your position.

At Palmers Solicitors we are experienced in providing advice on all possible options, including pursuing or defending undertakings, applications for injunctive relief (interim or final), substantive proceedings and pursuing damages or an account of profits.

Passing Off

Whilst a failure to register a mark or get-up associated with your business might leave it open to being copied by a competitor it does not mean that you are without protection.

The common law of passing off provides protection to your identifying get-up in certain circumstances, irrespective of whether you have registered a trade mark or not. If you think that you can establish goodwill in your name, a misrepresentation by the infringing party causing confusion and leading to loss you might have a claim for passing off.

We are also able to defend passing off actions brought against you by other parties and we are experienced in providing advice on all possible options, including pursuing or defending undertakings, applications for injunctive relief (interim or final), substantive proceedings and pursuing damages or an account of profits.

Copyright Infringement

Copyright protection can exist in a variety of different creations, including written works, information technology, photography, architectural design, drawings, illustrations, paintings, drama, music, films, sound recordings, artistic creations and so on.

If you believe that you have copyright protection in a particular creation then it might be that you benefit from the protection provided by the law, which will often include an exclusive right to use that particular creation and to prevent others from infringing actions such as copying, issuing copies to the public, and adapting your work.

If you think that your rights have been infringed  or someone has alleged that you are infringing their rights then seeking professional advice from lawyers who specialise in copyright law is key.

Abuse of confidential information and trade secrets, including breach of confidentiality agreements

Confidential information is often key to your business because it might be what you consider to give you a competitive edge. It could include pricing structures, customer details, designs, internal strategies etc etc.

Confidential information can be protected by other rights, such as copyright or database rights depending on how it is stored, however, generally it is protected by contractual clauses imparting obligations of confidentiality on those who have access to it or (in the absence of contractual clauses) a common law obligation of confidence in certain circumstances.

If you require advice on a potential breach of confidentiality then we would encourage you to contact Palmers quickly because matters of this kind often require a speedy resolution before more damage is done. We are able to advise on all aspects of such disputes, including whether there has been a breach, prospects of success and loss on a claim and immediately preventing further threat to your business by pursuing injunctive relief.