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Common Intellectual Property Questions


If you have a brand or logo that customers identify with you, are about to launch a new branded product or service, or have composed a new instrumental for a soundtrack, or have written a song, comedy sketch, etc, then it is important to protect such Intellectual Property sufficiently, because doing so could prevent someone else using them for financial gain without your permission, and 'free riding' on your hard work and hard earned goodwill that may be attached to such IP. And in the case where someone infringes your IP, if it is sufficiently protected, it could most likely give your case much weight in a Court of Law during an infringement case, than if it wasn't. In addition it is also important to have your brand name, logo, screened (and searched) before publication or use so as to ensure that you are not unknowingly using someone else's trade mark (and thereby infringing their IP) or if its an invention idea you are trying to obtain a patent for, then to ensure that no one else has already patented it , or that it is not already in the public domain. Furthermore, once registered, most IP rights, be they patents and or trade marks are valuable assets that could increase the value of your business though acts such as licensing. It is also important to note that protecting and enforcing IP, are two distinctly different activities. Once your IP is properly protected, it is often required of the owner of the IP to ensure that the IP is adequately enforced from the outset, and sometimes this is important in preventing loss of rights. On a slightly different note, it is also important for other IP such as copyrights (be it a literary work or composition) that appropriate measures are put in place before disclosing such work. Minimally, a good contract should be negotiated with the record company(or your agent), and before signing such a contract, the artist(s) should ensure that an experienced Patent Attorney has carefully reviewed such documents and presented all the pro's, and cons (including any possible undesirable effects that could later arise).
The first thing to do it to contact a Patent or Trade Marks Attorney as soon as possible. They will ascertain whether or not the goods that are being imported do actually infringe your IP, and will offer appropriate advice on what options are available to you. With HMRC rules stipulating that HMRC will only detain goods pending the outcome of court proceedings instituted by rights holders within a period of several days from notification by HMRC, and will only formally seize goods if directed to do so by the UK courts, it is crucial that you act quickly and receive the right advice as soon as you are aware of any possible infringement, as it could affect the course of proceedings later.
In the UK & Europe, the invention must be new, it must involve an "inventive step", it must have some industrial application (Industry may also include use in agriculture), and it must not encompass subject matter that is excluded from patentability(e.g. for example discoveries, scientific theories schemes & rules and methods for performing mental acts). In other countries, there are slight differences in undertaking this ascertainment, although most have novelty, inventive step and industrial application. There are also other subject matter that may be "patentable" in other countries, which are excluded in the UK & Europe (eg. business methods and programs for computers as such)
The first thing to do is to request trade mark search for the jurisdiction in which you propose to your your mark. The search will flag up whether the proposed word, mark, or logo is already in use by someone else. This saves from having to invest in a trade mark application when your proposed mark is already in use or owned by someone else. We regularly conduct both patent and trade mark searches covering various jurisdictions for our clients. You can find more information about patent or trade mark searches in the patents and trade marks section of our website.
We have associates who offer manufacturing support for products which will be made in Asia. They will sign your NDA's, and get the manufacturers to also sign NDA's prior to supply of any commercially sensitive information / technical drawings. However, we recommend applying for a Registered Design and a China's Design Patent if the product will be made in China. The general rule is to protect the product in the country in which it will be made. The NDA will be testament that the a manufacturer agrees that any IPR arising out of the manufacturing will be yours, while the Registered Design and Design Patent will give you exclusive rights to the particular design. If your product has a sizeable market across the world, you may find it useful to apply for an International Design. We have expertise in Design registration and can help you with all these steps. Contact us here to speak to our International and European Design Attorneys.


Patents Faqs

Trade Marks Faqs

Registered Designs Faqs