How can I legally protect my business against intellectual property disputes?
07 MAR 2023
Intellectual Property (IP) law safeguards your concept, idea, design or product from any infringement of intellectual property rights by others. Thanks to instruments of IP law, such as copyright, patents, and trademarks, you can enforce your legal right of ownership and provide yourself with comprehensive protection.
Unfortunately, disagreements over intellectual property ownership can arise, and it is essential to have measures in place to protect yourself from legal action. Ignoring the potential impact of such disputes could lead to costly litigation, legal fees and damage to your reputation, not to mention the financial losses you could incur.
Intellectual property disputes can be complex and time-consuming, so knowing your options for resolving them is crucial.
In this blog, we will guide on resolving intellectual property disputes, including what steps you need to take and how to protect yourself.
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property refers to creations such as inventions, works of art and literature, designs and symbols, and names used in commerce. IP rights give their owners the right to use or license their creations for specific purposes.
These rights are laws that protect an individual or company’s valuable ideas and creations from being copied, misused or stolen. They protect the creator by granting them exclusive control over how their work is used and distributed.
What are the most common types of intellectual property disputes?
There are several different types of intellectual property disputes that can occur. The most common types include copyright infringement, trademark infringement, patent infringement and trade secret misappropriation.
One of the most common intellectual property disputes is copyright infringement. This occurs when someone uses another person’s work without permission or payment. This can be anything from copying another person’s copyrighted material, such as a song, photograph or book, to using a copyrighted idea without credit.
Trademark infringement occurs when someone uses another business’s trademarked words or logos without their permission or when someone uses a mark that is identical or similar to another person’s mark. Trademark violations can have serious legal consequences for businesses and can lead to costly lawsuits.
Patent disputes are also a common type of intellectual property dispute. Patent infringement occurs when someone uses another person’s patented invention without permission. This may often involve two parties claiming ownership over an invention or technology created by one party or by both parties working together.
Trade secret misappropriation is another type of intellectual property dispute that your business should be aware of. It occurs when someone discloses confidential information or trade secrets to a third party without permission.
How could my business be affected by an intellectual property dispute?
Intellectual property disputes can have serious, long-term implications when running a business. If your business has been involved in such a dispute or is considering taking legal action against another party, it is important to understand how your business could be affected.
One of the most significant impacts of an intellectual property dispute is the potential financial cost. Legal proceedings can be expensive, and if you are the accused, you may be required to pay damages or a licensing fee to use the intellectual property. The dispute may impact other aspects of your business operations, such as an injunction that could prevent you from using the intellectual property, disrupting supply chains or delaying product launches.
There is also a risk that an intellectual property dispute might damage your reputation with existing customers and potential new clients. Negative publicity around the dispute could lead to further difficulties for your business, such as a loss of trust in your brand and, potentially, a decrease in sales.
While intellectual property disputes can have far-reaching consequences for businesses of all sizes, understanding these risks ahead of time can help minimise their impact on your organisation. Taking steps to protect your intellectual property before any issues arise will also help reduce the chances of becoming involved in a dispute in the first place.
What are the five different ways I can protect my business’s intellectual property?
With the right measures in place, businesses can safeguard intellectual property and ensure it remains safe from any unwanted third-party use or manipulation. The five key ways to protect intellectual property are:
Trademarks, copyrights and patents: Trademarking and copyrighting are two of the most common ways to protect intellectual property. A trademark is a symbol, word, or phrase that identifies and distinguishes your product from others in the market, while copyright protects any original works produced by you or your employees. If you have created a unique invention or process, patenting it can provide solid legal protection, preventing others from exploiting your invention without permission.
Confidentiality agreements: Legally binding contracts between two parties that specify the confidential information they want to keep private. These agreements protect your company’s trade secrets and other valuable intellectual property. They also help prevent competitors from using any information they may have access to during meetings or negotiations with you or your employees.
Protect trade secrets: Trade secrets refer to specific information not generally known or readily ascertainable by others. This protection is vital if your business has any information you want to keep confidential. Without trade secret protection, competitors could learn your secrets and use them without permission and without having to pay for them.
Infringement monitoring: This is the process of tracking and defending against the unauthorised use of your brand’s content. By regularly checking on potential infringements of your intellectual property, you can ensure that you can act quickly and effectively if any breaches occur. Not only will this help protect the value of your work and the reputation of your business, but it may also avert costly legal proceedings further down the line.
Enforce your rights: Your intellectual property is valuable and deserves to be protected. If you believe your work has been used without permission, there are a variety of legal avenues available. No matter what course of action you decide on, it’s essential that you act quickly to preserve the value of your intellectual property.
What should I do if my intellectual property is copied or replicated?
If you discover that your intellectual property has been used without permission, it is important to address it urgently and decisively. The law provides various remedies depending on which type of intellectual property has been infringed upon: from cease and desist letters to damages claims. There are multiple methods available for protecting yourself from those who would copy or replicate your work without permission.
It is essential to seek legal advice, as further action, such as filing a lawsuit, may need to be taken.
How will working with a legal expert help me legally protect my intellectual property?
Having a legal expert on your side when it comes to protecting your intellectual property is invaluable. While there are some steps you can take yourself to protect your ideas, a legal professional can provide you with the best advice and ensure that your work is appropriately safeguarded.
Working with an experienced lawyer will give you the peace of mind of knowing that all necessary documentation is completed. From drafting contracts to filing for copyright registration, they will ensure everything is done correctly and following the law. This will reduce the risk of any disputes arising in the future, saving you both time and money.
We can help you navigate these complexities and advise on the best way to protect your intellectual property if it has been infringed upon.
Get in touch with us today at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Yulia BarnesManaging Partner
Yulia Barnes is our Managing Partner. She is an experienced solicitor and advises on a wide range of contentious and non-contentious matters for both private and corporate clients.Yulia started her legal career at a large international Magic Circle firm. She then became a partner at a regional law firm and headed a Dispute Resolution Department. She then moved in-house before starting her own Boutique practice, Barnes Law, with the aim of providing exclusive services to high net-worth individuals and privately-owned businesses. More details can be found on her LinkedIn profile.
Expertise Yulia and her team are widely recognised for their professional and practical approach to matters. She is committed to ensuring that her clients’ objectives are achieved in the most cost-effective way possible.
Approach Yulia has a wealth of experience working with businesses of all sizes: from large multinational corporations to start-ups. She has particular expertise in a hospitality industry, investment funds, private and corporate clients, and focuses on startups and technology-driven companies. Yulia brings the same level of attention to detail, professionalism and a personal touch to every case and client, and truly immerses herself in her clients’ businesses. She prides herself on her problem-solving, commercially astute approach and her track record of partnering with clients to help them achieve their strategic objectives.
Will joined Barnes Law as an Associate Solicitor in Spring 2023, shortly after qualifying in September 2022.
Will works mostly on real estate and corporate/commercial matters. Will enjoys providing advice on transactional matters.
Away from the office, Will can be found reading or playing golf. While he played rugby until university, and rowed throughout his degree, he now tends to watch both from the sidelines. During the winter he can also be found skiing.
Will plans to continue developing his legal skills and experience at Barnes Law, under the expertise and guidance provided by Yulia.
Mark is an experienced solicitor whose practice areas include intellectual property (IP), IT, data protection and general commercial law.
Mark advises businesses of all sizes – from sole traders to corporations. Among his clients are: clothing and lifestyle brands, restaurants and food suppliers, IT companies, banks, hedge funds and venture capital firms, education providers, medical and pharmaceutical brands.
Outside of his practice, Mark also advises members of the Institute of Directors as part of its Directors’ Advisory Service.
- Prosecuting a UK trademark application on behalf of an education provider and representing them in related UK IPO opposition and revocation proceedings;
- Advising a publisher and a delivery business on data protection matters, B2B and B2C Ts & Cs of sale, website and app Ts & Cs, all aspects of global brand protection;
- Advising footwear brands, alternative asset managers and hedge funds on their global brand protection, including overcoming various refusals, representing them in opposition proceedings and settlement negotiations;
- Representing a central bank in opposition proceedings before the UK IPO;
- Advising a lifestyle brand concerning trademark clearance and protection, negotiations for a website/app development and maintenance agreement.
Ioulia TatawatFamily Law Adviser
Ioulia has a solid background in family law and offers guidance, clarity, and support to clients during one of their most challenging times in their life.
She advises on all three pillars of separation: divorce, children matters and financial settlements. Ioulia is a member of Resolution and is keen to try to settle matters at early stages.
Ioulia is dedicated to assisting clients and navigating them through their legal matters with clarity and support.
Alex joined Barnes Law in September 2023 after finishing his master’s degree in law. Prior to joining Barnes Law, Alex worked in property litigation at Ashfords. Alex assists Yulia on a variety of both contentious and non-contentious matters.
Outside of the office, Alex enjoys reading and hiking. Prior to working in law, Alex was a competitive tennis player.
Alex continues to develop his skills in legal practice under Yulia’s guidance, he plans to sit the Solicitor’s Qualifying Exams (SQE) in 2024.
Mehves joined Barnes Law in August 2023, right after graduating from Queen Mary, University of London (LLB Senior Status). As part of her qualification journey, Mehves is currently pursuing her Legal Practice Course (‘LPC’) at the University of Law. She also holds a degree in European Union Law from Maastricht University, Netherlands.
Mehves works closely with Yulia on a variety of contentions matters and also writes Barnes Law’s legal blogs, manages social media accounts and is responsible for marketing.
Outside of work and studies, she enjoys running, tennis and yoga.
Mehves is looking forward to developing her legal skills at Barnes Law.
Julia PodgornovaInvestor Relationship Manager
Julia guides clients in making important business decisions based on comprehensive risk assessment and strategy. She supports investors in devising strategies designed to maximise each business’s potential from pre-seed to IPO.
Julia’s particular area of expertise are IT start-ups at different stages. Julia supports business through their fund-raising journey. As an Investor Relations Manager, Julia communicates with investors to facilitate a smooth round and legal part of each transaction.
In her free time Julia enjoys sailing, ballroom dancing, art exhibitions and travel.