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Alia Ali and Andrew Spearman give you the lowdown on Intellectual Property, what it is, why it matters and what you can do if someone is infringing your rights.
Intellectual Property (IP) ascribes the legal right that exists in products of human creativity. IP is divided into two categories: (1) Industrial property, which includes inventions (patents), trademarks such as your logos and company name, industrial designs; and (2) Copyright, which includes literary and artistic works such as novels, poems and plays, films, musical works, drawings, paintings, sculptures, photographs and architectural designs. Therefore, anyone who has created an idea, be it a brand, a design or any artistic or literary work will want to protect their Intellectual Property Rights (IPR) by registering them in order that their idea is not stolen or goodwill used to generate business for another.
You can register any number of marks you want, but you pay per mark not per application and registration will be considered for each one separately.
If you discover that someone is using, your company name for example, then you can look to take out an injunction and issue a claim against them for such an infringement. This will ensure they cease to infringe your rights and / or to claim damages or account of profits for the unauthorised use of your IPR. If you have not registered the mark though you run the risk or your yourself infringing another’s IPR if they register it before you. Please note that there are protections even where you have not yet registered your mark under ‘passing off’ rules.
As in any form of litigation, just because someone has accused you of something does not necessarily mean that they have a right to sue you or that they will succeed in the claim against you. The strength of the other side’s case will need to be assessed and options discussed.
*Alia Ali and Andrew Spearman are solicitors at A City Law Firm.