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Intellectual Property Disputes, Theft & Infringement

Intellectual property (IP) refers to creations of the mind, such as inventions; literary and artistic works; designs; and symbols, names and images used in commerce. IP infringement seriously harms or destroys not only the value of the IP rights themselves, but also the individuals and commercial organisations behind them.

In a technologically driven society, intellectual property rights have, for both individuals and corporations, emerged as easily one of the most valuable assets they can hold. For a brand owner, a creator of digital content, or a designer of a new product, for example, it is essential that valuable IP assets are protected.

Unfortunately, the online world has created a dangerous environment for IP, where rights are frequently infringed. At Saunders Law, our media law team act for both claimants and defendants in intellectual property disputes. We have amassed substantial experience with the relevant laws and procedures, working alongside a range of businesses in various sectors.

Our clients rely on us to provide consistent, sensible and pragmatic advice to help solve intellectual property cases, as well as our vigorous advocacy skills. No matter whether we are bringing or defending a case involving intellectual property infringement, our team will be able to provide a comprehensive assessment of the situation and be fully transparent about the likely costs involved.

Whether you suspect your IP rights have been infringed, or if you are accused of infringing another party’s rights, you should instruct specialists intellectual property lawyers without delay. Operating from offices facing the High Court in central London, we are ideally located to support clients in London and across England and Wales in relation to intellectual property claims.

Speak to our intellectual property disputes lawyers today

For expert assistance with intellectual property disputes, theft and infringement, contact Saunders Law today. We offer a free, no obligation initial discussion about how we may be able to help.

Call us on 020 7315 4809 or make an enquiry online.

Why work with our trademark infringement experts?

More than 40 years’ experience

At Saunders Law, our partner-led team have over 40 years of knowledge and experience, which we use to support our clients with a wide range of intellectual property cases. We always make sure to take reputational issues into consideration when providing advice. We hold an excellent track record of successfully protecting our clients’ interests.

Independently recognised expertise

Our team have been independently recognised for our market-leading expertise, with strong rankings in highly respected client guides the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

Our IP team is headed by Will Charlesworth, who is independently recognised for his IP litigation expertise in the Legal 500 and Chambers & Partners.

"Will Charlesworth is a respected litigator, particularly knowledgeable in the areas of IP and software disputes. His work frequently includes cross-border elements.” A client values his "technical knowledge, practical approach and ability to communicate legalese at our level."
(Chambers and Partners 2019)

"Highly Experienced.”
(Intellectual Property, Legal 500 2017)

“Will Charlesworth is a respected intellectual property disputes lawyer. He has a particular specialism in software disputes and handling domain name cybersquatting issues.”
(Chambers and Partners 2017)

Commercially minded approach to match our clients’ priorities

Regardless of what the circumstances may be, we carefully plan our strategy and advice around our client’s priorities. Our team have strong skills in both out of court settlements and litigation for intellectual property issues, which means we can take the most appropriate approach based on your specific needs.

Exceptional personal service & client satisfaction

We pride ourselves on always providing an exceptional service. Our clients will always receive a call back the same day following an enquiry and will have the opportunity to speak to one of our partners whenever required. We consistently achieve excellent feedback from our clients.

Examples of our handling of successful intellectual property infringement work

Protection of Commercial Assets

  • Acting on behalf of a global public sector strategy consultancy against copyright infringers in multiple jurisdictions.
  • Acting for a nationwide insurance company against former employees following the unauthorised duplication of company documents and content.
  • Acting for a Paris-based, international luxury cosmetics brand, protecting and enforcing its IP rights against major international retailers.
  • Advising a client in strategic partnership with the British Museum as to licensing its IP rights.

Advertising Technology & Media

  • Acting for a UK based software company against a leading US bank in a copyright and database rights infringement claim concerning the creation of bespoke and highly complex financial analytical software.
  • Acting for an ultra-high net worth client to secure the inclusion and protection of their IP in a Hollywood movie.
  • Defending a London-based movie production company in passing-off proceedings.
  • Acting for a celebrity fitness personality and actor in respect of infringement of his performance rights and copyright in promotional exercise content.
  • Advising a technology company, operating exclusively in the oil industry, in a claim for infringement of registered designs and design rights in the UK and Kazakhstan.
  • Acting for a French design house, enforcing its extensive portfolio of Registered Design rights in the UK.
  • Advising an Italian design house in an action against a company infringing its copyright and registered designs in the UK.
  • Acting for a well-known figure in a ‘freezing order’ injunction application in a multi-million-pound art fraud case.

Blockchain & Crypto Currency

  • Advising an NFT project as to their initial token drop, including IP rights advice.
  • Advising a crypto currency business as to the enforcement of its IP rights and the resolution of litigation surrounding a funding white paper.
  • Advising a London-Turkish joint venture technology start-up in respect of its IP rights in the dissolution of a 'blockchain' technology platform venture.

How our team can assist with intellectual property infringement

Supporting rights holders

There are a number of options available for rights holders who find themselves involved in intellectual property disputes. The actions that rights holders can potentially take against infringers include obtaining:

  • An injunction to prevent further infringement
  • An order that the infringing goods/materials are delivered up or destroyed
  • An order for damages (financial compensation) and the payment of legal costs.

It is critical to instruct the right legal counsel, who should be specialists and have experience with intellectual property theft and infringement. An intellectual property claim must be made precisely, decisively and without delay. Delays can be a bar to obtaining an injunction, so should be avoided wherever possible.

Where you believe that your intellectual property has been infringed or stolen, we can advise on the best approach to take and what the next steps should be. Every case is unique which means that there is no one size-fits all approach to these matters.

We can correspond with the party or parties responsible for the intellectual property theft, setting out the legal position and the actions that need to be taken to avoid litigation.

Where a satisfactory outcome cannot be voluntarily agreed, we can also launch court proceedings, robustly defending your commercial interests.

Defending parties accused of intellectual property infringement

For those defending a claim of intellectual property infringement, it is important to analyse and address the particulars of the claim without delay, as not every claim has merit (even when being advanced by a well-known law firm).

Important initial considerations may include, for example whether:

  • The purported rights holder really holds the rights they are threatening to enforce
  • The actions complained of constitute an infringement of that IP right
  • Whether there is a valid defence for the actions that are being complained about

There are many other elements to critically analyse at the outset in assessing whether an IP claim has been properly made or not. It is recommended specialist legal counsel is consulted as matter of urgency in such cases.

It may be necessary to apply for an injunction to prevent a misguided party from attempting to enforce rights they do not actually hold.

Intellectual property law is complex, with many traps to snare the unwary and inexperienced. It is important therefore that the facts are analysed by our intellectual property specialists at the earliest opportunity. The best case can then be presented at the outset, maximising the chances of a favourable outcome.

Alternative dispute resolution for intellectual property infringement

Trial is not necessarily the defined and inevitable end point for an IP claim; in fact, only a small minority of claims ever reach trial. The courts actively encourage parties to attempt to resolve disputes using Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). Forms of ADR you may be familiar with include without prejudice negotiations, arbitration, expert determination and mediation.

Parties in IP disputes are encouraged to approach ADR as an effective way of seeking to avoid potentially costly and uncertain litigation at an early stage. Specialist IP legal counsel can assist in presenting the strongest case possible when approaching ADR, to ensure a better chance of success.

Frequently asked questions about intellectual property disputes

What is intellectual property theft?

Simply put, intellectual property theft is where a product, idea, creative expression or registered trademark that is protected by intellectual property laws is stolen or otherwise used without the proper authorisation or permission.

What intellectual property rights can be enforced?

You may be familiar with the more common intellectual property rights:

Copyright

Copyright protects original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work, including illustration and photography. It also protects original non-literary written work, such as software, web content and databases.

In the UK, this right does not require registration; it arises upon creation of a work. For example, copyright will arise in the writing of a book, the taking of a photograph, the writing of software code or the recording of a film.

Registered Trade Marks

Registered trade marks encompass logos and slogans, colours and shapes. Trade marks often form an essential part of a brand, assisting commercial growth and protecting goodwill.

The registration of a trade mark gives the holder a so called ‘monopoly right’, being the exclusive use of a particular mark in connection with a specific class (or classes) of goods and/or services. The holder can enforce its rights to prevent third parties from using the same or a similar mark in connection with the same or similar classes of goods and/or services.

Passing Off

In the absence of a registered trade mark or design, it may be possible to protect the appearance of a brand from copying by bringing a claim for ‘Passing Off’. Passing Off protects the unique identifiers of a business, including: a colour scheme; website appearance and graphics; a name and logo.

Design Rights and Registered Designs

Registered Design: You can register the look of a product you’ve designed to stop people copying or stealing it. The look of your design includes the: appearance; physical shape; configuration (or how different parts of a design are arranged together); and decoration.

Design Right: there are rights that protect your unregistered designs and stop others from using them without your permission. The shape and configuration (how the parts are arranged) of 3-dimensional objects is automatically protected in the UK for specified timescales. You get protection automatically.

Patents

You can use a patent to protect your invention. It gives you the right to take legal action against anyone who makes, uses, sells or imports it without your permission. Patent protection is a specialist area of law, and it is recommended that legal advice is sought at the outset.

Additional Claims

IP claims are not always brought in isolation and can often be accompanied, and strengthened, by claims for breach of confidentiality, breach of privacy and/or data protection infringement.

It is critical therefore, at the outset of any IP claim, to undertake a thorough and informed assessment of the legal position, and to form a clear strategy, which is then kept under regular review.

How do I sue for intellectual property theft?

Prior to starting any formal legal proceedings, you will have the opportunity to settle any type of intellectual property dispute out of court. If this proves unsuccessful, the next step will be to file legal proceedings, either through the Intellectual Property Office (IPO), or through the courts.

Deciding the exact approach to take is something our intellectual property lawyers can support you with.

How do I prevent intellectual property theft?

As a business, there are a number of potential steps you can take to significantly reduce the chances of your intellectual property being stolen or infringed. This includes taking actions such as:

  • Keeping all operating systems up to date
  • Encrypting sensitive data
  • Collating all IP within the business
  • Reviewing user access to IP
  • Establishing a data security policy

How do I avoid intellectual property infringement?

It is often the case that defendants in intellectual property infringement cases did not intend to steal any IP. There are several steps you can take to make sure that you do not find yourself in an IP dispute, including:

  • Obtain appropriate licences from rights holders
  • Use royalty-free media where possible
  • Use the IPO’s website to search for relevant markers of IP

Contact our Specialist IP Team Today

Whether you are seeking to enforce your IP rights, or defend an action brought against you, it is essential that legal advice is obtained from specialists in this area at the earliest opportunity.

We will always offer a free initial consultation to establish if we can assist you.

Our advice is clear, simple and designed specifically to meet your needs. We are discrete and familiar with dealing with high profile individuals and cases.

You can rest assured that our team will tirelessly fight your corner, ensuring that the best result possible is achieved for you.

Call us on 020 7632 4300 or make an enquiry online.