Tag Archives: copyright

image rights

Image Rights. Do They Prevent You Using a Celebrity’s Image?

image rightsIn the lead up to the Christmas and new year season, most of us are accustomed to seeing television advertisements featuring well-known actors and personalities endorsing a range of luxury products such as perfumes and watches.

Indeed the John Lewis Christmas advert is a television advertising campaign which is released in the build-up to Christmas. John Lewis launched their first Christmas advert in 2007. It has since become something of an annual tradition in British popular culture, The adverts tend to attract widespread media coverage and acclaim upon their release

Obviously a personality like Sean Connery will have been handsomely rewarded for endorsing a famous brand of watch. The question people often wonder about is to what extent a person, famous or otherwise, can control the use of his or her image or likeness on products or services. Can, for example, use Sean Connery’s image to sell your calendars bearing his image on the front cover?

In the UK there is as yet no recognised legal right of publicity or personality. This means that a person has no specific legal right in the UK to control the unauthorised use of their image or appearance.

Celebrities do have some legal remedies though, so be careful before you use a famous person’s image. Has the celebrity registered their name or signature as a trade mark?

Even if the famous person has not registered a trade mark of their image or likeness, that person may still be able to successfully challenge use by others of their image on the basis of  passing-off, which is a legal remedy that protects the goodwill which has been built up by a person in their business. Their argument would be that you are wrongfully appropriating that goodwill. To succeed, they have to prove 3 elements: a recognised goodwill in the UK, a misrepresentation by the defendant, and damage caused to the claimant’s goodwill.

For present purposes, the key element to be proved by the famous person or celebrity is misrepresentation: will the public be misled into believing that my 2020 calendar bearing the image of, say, Sean Connery on its cover has been approved by or has some connection with that former Bond star?

brand strategy

Brand Strategy Is Essential For Success In Business 

I recently wrote an extensive piece Brand Strategy Why Every Business Needs One on my personal blog.

Brand strategy is one of the most important issues to deal with if you want to create a business that grows in brand value and delivers more leads and opportunities.

We’re developing a methodology to support our clients to create their brand strategy and it’s important to take a fresh look at what you think “brand” means when considering this piece and the videos here.

Brand, branding, intellectual property, trade mark, business design – these are all very much misunderstood as terms, or people don’t even know what they mean. Yet these are really important issues for a business to take on board whether it’s starting up, scaling or looking to exit.

In the blog post and first video, I explain what is involved in working out your brand strategy.

Don’t assume bigger businesses all have brand strategies because many of them don’t have one – particularly tech companies as they focus all their attention on the product.

Uber is an example of what happens when you don’t have a brand strategy.  While the business is a success and has even reached unicorn status, its lack of attention to brand has caused numerous problems. In the second video, I go into Uber’s case in more depth.

If you want support to craft your brand strategy so as to build brand value, and attract more leads and opportunities then do get in touch. We can help you whether you’re a start up, scale up or a business looking to plan your exit.

Internet Rules – Changes The Rules of Branding

The internet has changed the rules for many industries. In my books Legally Branded and Intellectual Property Revolution, I explained how the internet impacts the intellectual property industry.

Here is how I see it changing the branding industry, at least as regards the branding of service-based businesses.

 

Branding Industry Approach

The branding industry has traditionally left IP to be dealt with by lawyers later once the brand has already been created.

The approach is to design the brand, and then go to lawyers to protect the new brand.  Sometimes the designer even suggests names and then checks them out on Google and on company and domain sites.

The trouble with this approach is that you need to check the name properly whether you are choosing the name for the client or the client has found its own name. Many problems have arisen for businesses that failed to do this fundamental checking. By leaving it to the client to seek out legal advice, it’s potentially setting the client up for difficulties because in many cases people don’t bother to seek protection at all or if they look for help they get it from a business lawyer rather than from a trade mark expert. So the business misses out on important advice.

This approach was viable in a pre-internet world where there were fewer brands and less visibility if you were using a name that belonged to someone else.

Intangible Assets

In an internet environment where virtually all assets of a business are intangibles, it becomes foolhardy to leave IP like trade marks till later. IP plays such a central role in business that it must be the starting point when planning any project or venture.

Some of the intangible assets that businesses own, or which benefit them nowadays are things like data, processes, relationships, networks, culture etc. These may have always existed in the past but now that most assets are intangible, they have taken on greater significance.

Many of these assets don’t neatly fall within the traditional definition of intellectual property – that is, patents, designs, trade marks, copyright, and confidential information.

They are intellectual capital though and you need to understand IP even more deeply to know how best to protect and deploy this newer form of asset within your business.

I use IP here in its widest sense, to refer to all the knowledge and skills a business might use in order to succeed.

 

IP Risks and Opportunities

IP risks and opportunities impact the way you create a brand strategy and design the structure of a business. For this reason, where in the past I would describe myself as an intellectual property lawyer, now I see myself as an Intellectual Property lawyer with a difference. That’s because I integrate IP, brand, and marketing to support startups, scale ups, and those exiting their businesses to design a business that builds in value and attracts more leads and opportunities.

I’ve spent years studying brands and marketing closely. I’ve read hundreds of books, attended dozens of courses, been through a couple of branding exercises and am so interested in the topic that I am a constant student in this area of business.

 

Future trends

I foresee that in future we will see more and more intellectual property lawyers integrating IP, brand, and marketing, to ensure their clients businesses are built for success.

In larger businesses, different departments are currently involved in issues relating to the brand– IT, marketing, PR, design, and legal.  In the future, they will be more multidisciplinary in approach. Every team will involve a trade mark lawyer who “gets” branding and therefore can advise on brand from a legal dimension as well as from a business perspective.

The legal services industry is undergoing fundamental challenges and transformations and will continue to do so in the coming years. Many lawyers will realise that they are in a wider business than their current narrow focus on pure law.

Trade mark lawyers need to focus more on the brand and become the business advisers of choice for organizations that are formulating their brand strategy. They could give so much more value than simply being asked to search names for availability.  But for them to deliver more value involves a sea change in training and education.

One significant advantage these professionals currently have is their depth of understanding of the legal aspects of the brand. As such they are better placed than people from other disciplines such as design or marketing to advise on brand. Many designers and marketers come to branding with no understanding of IP law at all.

While they are suitable for creating the visual identity, or marketing plan, they have a huge learning curve to advise on the IP aspects of branding, which are of central relevance when you’re designing a business.

The methodology I’ve developed to support my clients ensures they choose names that are in line with their positioning and by working with us they have the added benefit of very cost effective IP protection that’s thrown in as part of the work. It requires very little effort to support them on the copyright or to draft an effective trade mark application when you’re working closely with them and understand their business intimately.

Our process also focuses on designing the business correctly to ensure it attracts leads and opportunities as a starting point for working out its positioning and name.

The creation of a visual identity is postponed till much later.

In my new book, I’ll be explaining why I think it’s essential in the new world we live in to separate brand strategy and business identity, from visual identity creation. The two disciplines really should be kept separate.

The word brand and branding is much misused and misunderstood.

The shift that has happened in society due to the internet is being felt in every area of life, and it’s important that businesses understand why their first port of call when looking to brand their business should not be a designer.

Last week I explained in my blog Why is a good name important to a company just how important names are to a company. Do read it to understand this important topic which may seem quite minor but actually plays a central part in the success of a business.

Intellectual property

Intellectual Property Rights – Frightening?

I was speaking to a designer recently who said that people find IP rights very frightening.

That intrigued me. Why fear IP? Is it that you fear what you don’t understand? Is it that IP is a nuisance perhaps?

Whatever the reasons for this designer’s comment the reality is that IP is part and parcel of business. You need to be mindful of IP all the time, whether you’re starting a new project or business or growing or exiting a business.

 

It’s Possible It’s Not Your Intellectual Property

The fact that it’s possible that something you assume is yours is regarded by the legal system as not yours is a difficult concept to grasp perhaps. That’s because IP often resides within something else. At it’s simplest you may own a book but you don’t own the copyright in that book. It belongs to the author or the publisher. Similarly, you may own your website in the sense that it’s your site, but not necessarily own the copyright in its designs and functionality. What this means is that you can use it for your business but if you try to licence valuable parts of the design or functionality to others in order to generate a new income stream you would be prevented from doing so because you don’t own the copyright and designs in it.

Questions that arise in relation to IP include:

  • What type of IP is it?
  • How should you protect it so it can be yours?
  • What should you do to turn your idea into IP that you can own?
  • Is it essential to keep your idea secret so you can own valuable IP?
  • Are you infringing on other people’s Intellectual Property?

What Is Intellectual Property?

Intellectual property (“IP”) is an umbrella term that describes a range of rights in intangible assets, such as:

        • Copyright: in various works like photographs, words, music, logos, and software.
        • Designs: rights in the shape of goods like ipads, or bottles, or in the surface design of materials such as wallpaper.
        • Trademarks: rights in packaging, names, slogans, and logos.
        • Patents: over an innovation which was previously unknown, like the bagless Dyson vacuum cleaner.

IP rights are territorial, which means you are generally protected in the countries in which you register them. For IP rights that arise automatically, such as copyright, you will have wider protection worldwide thanks to international treaties between countries.

Also, there are useful measures you can and should take in other countries to better protect your assets.

 

Owning Intellectual Property

To own intellectual property rights it’s necessary to take the right actions in relation to your ideas. That’s how you avoid discovering that your ideas become someone else’s intellectual property. It’s important when commissioning someone to carry out certain types of activity that results in new IP to have the right agreements in place.

Otherwise, you could find that:

  • your logo belongs to the designer who created it.
  • your website is not yours to do with as you like

Due to the IP default rules, it’s all too possible if you don’t know the right actions to take, to find that you pay for work to be created, but that you don’t own the rights to exploit it.

The biggest trap to avoid is finding that your idea for business software becomes the IP of those who develop it.

 

Avoid Infringement

It’s necessary to think of IP in two ways. Firstly, whether you will be infringing on someone else’s intellectual property rights. Secondly, whether someone else is infringing on your rights.

Doing searches of various kinds and registering rights is key to protecting inventions and names. As it’s necessary to protect your turf against copycats, disputes can arise all too easily, so you need help to manage and resolve them, even if that doesn’t involve a last resort of using the court process.

Typically, not owning copyright to something important in your business is undesirable. This could result in the sale of your business falling through.

To protect IP involves implementing a range of legal agreements, not just when you’re setting up a new website, or licensing your IP or selling products and services online, but also as you grow the business. It becomes even more important with growth of a business to have good agreements in place that protect your intellectual property.

Protecting a new name, software and other assets against copying of all kinds, or an invention that could be patentable are reasons to deal with IP. It’s what makes your business valuable.

So going back to the question I started with, whether IP is frightening, it’s not IP that is the problem so much as ignorance of something important in business.

We are still at the early stages of the digital economy, but the more digital our lives become the more essential it is to get a good understanding of IP and protect your business. Start by having an intellectual property assessment and advice. We provide this at Azrights.

copyright dispute

Copyright Infringement and Copyright Disputes

copyright disputeThe most common copyright dispute we see involves an image used on a website which the website owner does not own or have permission to use.

The reason this happens is that either a web designer has grabbed an image from the internet and used it in the site design, or someone within the business has done so. This mistake is invariably caused by the assumption that material on the internet is in the public domain and may be freely used.  Alternatively, people unwittingly use material that infringes on someone else’s rights because they had not realised that the copyright licence they obtained does not permit them to use the image for the purpose or in the ways they have used them.

Infringement is sometimes deliberate. For example, there may be an existing contractual arrangement in place governing copyright and the contract is terminated, breached or is otherwise in dispute.

As the copyright owner is the person that has exclusive rights to copy and distribute the image or other copyright works, infringement disputes can arise all too often.

Where someone copies or distributes copyrighted work without the authorisation of the copyright holder, they may be liable for copyright infringement. That is, unless they can establish that an exception applies or that they have a valid defence.

For example, there are exceptions to infringement in certain limited circumstances, such as. in certain situations where someone makes personal use of the work, rather than commercial use.

Copyright Ownership Disputes

When a work or product is created that the law protects through copyright, then the copyright in that work usually belongs to the person who creates it. The law refers to that person as the ‘author’.

Where a work is created by two or more people, it can be complicated to work out who owns the copyright. So, whenever a work is created jointly with others it’s important to discuss how to control that ownership so that the work can be exploited even if a dispute arises between the copyright owners.

Copyright infringement might arise if there have been many changes in ownership as it is difficult to work out who owns the copyright, and can give permission to use it.  For example, if you see an image on a website that you want to use and ask the website owner if you may use it, then even if they give you permission, you could be infringing copyright unless they have permission to give someone else permission to use the image.

Note that where work is commissioned from another business or freelancer it is sensible to clarify in writing who is to own the copyright.

The legal rules that apply in default, lead to some surprising consequences. Where a contract is not used disputes are much more likely to arise.

 

Resolving Copyright Disputes

The first step in a copyright infringement dispute might be a cease and desist letter.  If you receive such a letter get legal advice.

Copyright infringement disputes are normally resolved through negotiation between the parties. Failing an agreed settlement the dispute would be decided by the courts.

 

startup intellectual property

Intellectual Property Business Advice For Startups

startup intellectual propertyBefore considering a budget for services such as Outsourcing, Trademark or Patents even, I’d like to give you some pointers based on my experience of advising startups of all types over the last 15 years.

Businesses tend to change radically in the early years so that a few years after starting up, many look nothing like their initial manifestation.

Sometimes this can be because as they get market feedback on their concepts their ideas develop and they pivot. Or it may be that new businesses don’t know what it is exactly that they do, and who they do it for. Even professionals, like lawyers and web designers, who you would think know pretty clearly what they do, struggle with this.

Startups, therefore, take time to find their feet.

For this reason, I would counsel against spending too much money on anything, be it design, legal fees, or otherwise. As the business gradually achieves clarity about the demand for its goods and services, and figures out which services will generate revenue, and responds to the market, its offering and niche will change.

 

Early phase legal work

Early phase legal work can therefore often be of temporary benefit only.

Yet what happens in practice when a start up chooses lawyers is that a price is set for the various documents or services the lawyer considers the business needs. This might include a trade mark, terms of business, a website development agreement, documentation for the website, and anything else that is particularly appropriate for a given type of business.

The value a good lawyer can offer to startups goes far beyond the provision of documentation or a particular legal service.

It may be that you could save by using templates and do your own drafting to implement the necessary documents for your business.

One problem is how to get access to best practice intellectual property advice so as to start up your business and projects independently without need to consult lawyers about every decision you need to make as you pivot and change direction.

In fact, few businesses can afford to consult lawyers on the intellectual property issues that arise in the very early stages of their projects, such as when they’re choosing names or even when they’re commissioning websites. Either they don’t realise that so many of their actions have far reaching intellectual property implications, or it’s not feasible to incur legal fees when the project is in its infancy.

The mistake with IP is in assuming you can leave it to one side till later – such as once you have something to protect.  You need to know how to make good choices, what checks to make, and which provisions to include in legal agreements you should use early on.

Over the years Azrights has realised that this requires a different approach to that of consulting lawyers in the traditional lawyer/client one to one advisory service approach.

So, we’ve created a way to deliver early support to businesses so they may protect their IP using a PROCESS BASED system which we’ve developed. This is known as Legally Branded Academy 2.0 (LBA 2.0).

This enables people, even those with no pre-existing knowledge of intellectual property, to use the system to protect their IP. You learn what to do at the point in time when you need to learn it. It’s only when a key action is about to be undertaken in a project that there is a need to apply a given process.  You access and apply processes when you need them. There are different processes depending on the actions the business is about to take.

So, for example, if you have an innovation you want to patent, that’s when you would look at the processes for patents and understand what to do before approaching a lawyer for help. Or if you’re about to pick a name and domain name, that’s when you watch the videos on names and learn the numerous issues to be aware of.  Names are a much misunderstood topic, even by highly successful business leaders. There are many myths and misinformation about naming.

Indeed the need to choose a name so early on in projects leads to many mistakes by business owners, sometimes with devastating consequences for the business. This is just one example of how not having best practice advice, and information at your fingertips when you need it, can result in poor intellectual property outcomes for the business.

Intellectual property has a broad meaning. It includes the knowledge and skills that are to be deployed in the business or project, or which will be turned into a business. It is an umbrella term that includes:

  • patents,
  • trade marks,
  • designs,
  • copyright and
  • trade secrets/confidentiality.

Registration of rights, which people traditionally associate with intellectual property, comes later and often people will consult a lawyer at that time. However, by then it may already be too late to rectify the impact of some of the early decisions and choices they’ve made.

The best way I can help you is via a 6 week group coaching program that gives you access to LBA 2.0 and 6 Zoom meetings when I will explain how to use the LBA 2.0 system in your business as part of your processes, and you will have an opportunity to ask me questions. This is the lowest cost way we’ve been able to find for supporting startups. Thereafter you may buy consultation or different services such as trade mark registration. The system gives you a number of the templates you would need to use and these templates are made very easy to tailor. So, it’s only if the other party won’t sign the document that you’d need to consider consulting a lawyer for advice.

This new process-based approach to IP protection is THE way to protect your IP on an ongoing basis as your business grows and develops.

Here is a link to the Azrights International Ltd site which is not regulated by the solicitors regulation authority, and offers the course combined with coaching. You can put your name on the waiting list if the course is currently closed. It reopens every couple of months and you will get a discount by registering your interest and will be the first to find out when the next course starts.

The first step is to buy a licence for Legally Branded 2.0 and get some coaching. Then order more licences for your team and arrange consultancy services if required down the line.

Being in business myself means I understand the emotional, financial, and creative investment clients make in their own future. With my insight into legal risk, I am well placed to offer you this different approach to managing your legal risks and budget.

In conclusion, the traditional approach to organising your legal work might not result in the best deal for you. What we are all about at Azrights is providing cost effective and appropriate legal solutions to help you to grow your business on solid foundations.

When Does a Start Up Need to Register a Trademark?

Every time you create a product, service, or business, you need a brand identity for it. Without a doubt, the most important element of most brands is the name.

The law protects names through trademarks, not copyright.  

It is not possible to claim copyright in a name, even if the name is one you made up.

Start ups often wonder whether they need to spend the money to register a trademarkSome wonder why it’s not enough to have registered a company or domain name. Yet others have heard of unregistered trademark rights being acquired through use, and wonder why they should not just use the name without bothering with any trademark registrations.

Company and Domain name registrations are insufficient

The short answer to whether company or domain registrations are enough is no. Domain and company names do not give you the necessary rights you need in a name.  The fact that they are available to register does not mean you may use them for any purpose you like. You still need to establish whether anyone has trademark rights in the name you’re intending to use as your brand name. 

Trademark registration is the way to protect a name, and get the necessary rights you need in that nameIt is not a good idea to rely on unregistered trademark rights in the brand name in which you will be building your brand equity.  

What is a good name?

A good name will help you to build brand value and to successfully secure trademark registration in the word. But to pick a name that works involves more than meets the eye at first. 

As well as conveying the desired personality characteristics, sometimes across world markets and in multiple languages, it’s essential that the brand name be legally available and distinctive.

Often a name is the first issue you need to consider before beginning work on designs, websites, and marketing materials.

Should you register the name?

It all depends on how important the name is to you.  If you’ve found a name you are excited about and want to use long term for your business, then you should immediately register it as a trade mark, before you do anything else. That’s the way to establish ownership rights to a name.

If you are not that bothered whether you can use the name long term or not, then don’t worry about trademarking.  Once you’ve established that you are not infringing on anyone else’s rights, just go ahead and use the name.

Conclusion

So, when you’re starting a new business, pick any name based on whether your desired domain name is freely available to register. Don’t spend too much on getting an identity sorted for your business either. The focus should be on finding a suitable niche and positioning for your business and testing it.

You can have more than one niche, but best to move forward one niche at a time.

So, initially focus on getting the business off the ground.  If your business is viable and works, you can rebrand (by which I mean getting a visual identity in line with your brand values) once you’ve found your feet.

At that time, you could even pick a new name, so you can save if you’re willing to choose a temporary brand name to use as well as temporary designs in the early days. 

On the other hand, if you have coined a really inventive name, and like it, or don’t want to have the hassle of a rebranding exercise later, then, of course, you should invest in the name by properly protecting it with a trademark. 

copyright names

Does Copyright Protect Names?

copyright namesCopyright is a wide-ranging subject, and relevant to many creative and non-creative industries.  

It is arguably the most universally relevant IP right, covering written materials, music, art, logos, and computer programs, to name a few.  It protects most visual brand elements, such as logos, packaging, and websites, albeit it may also be possible to protect these by also registering some of them as designs or trademarks to secure added protection.

Copyright protects original expression, but not ideas themselves.  So, if someone were to suggest an idea to you to execute, such as an unusual looking picture of a bird, or gave you an idea for a plot, you as the creator would own copyright in the picture or plot you produce,and the person who gave you the idea will have no rights to any share of it. So the person with ideas gets no copyright in the work created as a result of their ideas unless there is a legal agreement between the two parties that provides otherwise.

Can I copyright my name?

Some people ask to “copyright” their name.  

People wonder whether copyright prevents them from using particular words for their product or business.  Even newspapers and popular online publications make the basic mistake sometimes of reporting names as being copyrightable. In fact, names are not protected by the law of copyright.  It is trademarks that protect names.

It was in a case in 1982 Exxon Corp, where it was decided that copyright does not protect names.  The company unsuccessfully applied to stop Exxon Insurance Consultants calling themselves Exxon, arguing that it had copyright in the name as it had spent substantial amounts of money developing the name.  

In a landmark decision, the UK Court of Appeal disagreed and took the view that it was not possible to have copyright in a name because a name is too brief.  Regardless of how much investment or time is put into the creation of a name, no matter how clever it is, from a policy point of view the court decided to keep names outside the scope of copyright protection.  Instead, names are protected by the law of trademarks.  

Some famous examples of slogans which are also protected by trademarks are Nike’s Just Do It, and L’Oreal’s Because you’re worth it.

What does this mean for you?  Well, for names and slogans you need to turn to trademark law for guidance. While for other works, such as those outlined at the start of this piece as examples of copyright works, generally, all you need to do to own your work is to record it in some way (for example by writing it down, taking a photograph, or getting it on tape).  

If you ask someone else to do work for you, for example, to develop a website, then you need a contract before you engage them, to give you the copyright, otherwise, they will own the rights in the site.

If an agency helps you to choose a brand name then unless you agree otherwise in the legal agreement between you, you will have exclusive rights to the name. They will have no claim to it. 

It’s important to get an expert in trademark law to help you assess whether a name is legally effective and available.  If it is, then registering it as a trademark is a sensible step to take so you own the rights to the name. This is important as you will be generating goodwill in the name.

How to Blog Safely and Avoid Infringement of Intellectual Property

In my previous post, I looked at the issue of protecting your blog content and identity. This blog briefly looks at some of the issues concerning the inclusion of other people’s materials in your content.

As I mentioned in the last blog, as a blogger you need to look in both directions when it comes to intellectual property (“IP”). In particular, you should ensure that what appears on your blog – be it text, photos, or comments – does not infringe the IP rights of someone else.

Before you launch your blog, with your new blog identity, you should carry out trade mark searches to make sure your name, tagline and logo don’t infringe the registered trade marks of another person or company.

 

Public domain and copyright

Moreover, make sure the contents of your blog presence don’t infringe someone else’s copyright. Content is not necessarily in the public domain just because it is freely available to access on the Internet. Unless you have created the content yourself – for example, taken that photograph yourself – you cannot assume that it is not protected by copyright. In fact, you should usually assume the opposite.

Most content is protected by copyright and that copyright will only expire 70 years after the death of the author. While it’s true that there are exceptions which permit some use of protected material – fair dealing in the UK or fair use in the United States, these are limited in scope, as you will see below.

 

Use of stock images

These days, with search engines like Google, there are thousands of images online for bloggers to use in their blogs. However, make sure your use won’t infringe copyright by checking the terms of the sites you’re using. Do the licence terms cover your blog? For example, if you may only make non commercial use, and do have promotions or otherwise make your blog pay, then don’t download from a site that only allows non commercial use as doing so may well amount to unauthorised reproduction contrary to copyright law.

 

Fair dealing of copyright material

What happens if, as a blogger, I want to use material such as a photo from a news event, or if I want to quote from an article, or book or even if I want to parody such material?

Well, assuming that the content you want to use is protected by copyright (which is likely), the general position, at least in the UK, is that the reproduction of a substantial part of work amounts to copyright infringement. What constitutes a “substantial part” is a complex and large topic, and will differ in each case as everything depends on the particular facts. So, let’s not get bogged down here with the somewhat tricky issue of what amounts to a “substantial part”, and instead look at what the law permits by way of certain limited exceptions which constitute fair dealing in the UK.

Although there are a number of fair dealing exceptions, only a few are likely to be relevant to bloggers. These include (a) criticism and review, parody and quotation, (b) reporting of current events, and, (c) incidental use (which is not strictly fair dealing but convenient to mention here).

If you reproduce part of a copyright work – let’s say an online article – in order to criticise or review that work or another work, your use may qualify as fair dealing under the law in the UK. This same law also protects you when you feature a quotation of work. However, it’s important to note that you may not freely reproduce a work if you want your use to be “fair”. So, reproducing an entire article on your blog is unlikely to be fair dealing. And the exception applies only to published works. Moreover, you must normally also include a sufficient acknowledgement of the original work.

The law in the UK also provides for fair dealing of third-party copyrighted material for the purpose of reporting of current events. However, photographs are excluded from this exception and so you cannot download and reproduce a photograph for the purpose of news reporting on your blog. While it might seem obvious, the events must be “current” and you must normally include a sufficient acknowledgement.

A blogger may also make incidental use of another’s copyright work without infringing copyright in that work. However, the law in the UK expressly excludes the deliberate inclusion of another’s music or lyrics. For example, you cannot add a song in the background of a video clip and claim that your use was incidental use if the song owner objects: it is not incidental use in this example because the music was included deliberately.

Creative Commons Licences

The last decade has seen the rise of open access forms of disseminating works known as Creative Commons (or (“CC”) licences. These provide for standard-form licences allowing members of the public to reuse work in particular ways. Creative Commons have sought to develop a suite of licences for many types of works.

The CC licences offers copyright owners a suite or menu of terms for using the content. Some of these only allow reuse in an unmodified form. Some only allow reuse with attribution. Others only allow reuse for non-commercial purposes.

While CC licences have become extremely popular in recent years, the most common kind is the “attribution, non-commercial, non-derivative works” licence which only allows the user to reproduce, distribute, or play the work in a non-modified form, only for non-commercial purposes and with attribution of authorship. As a consequence, CC licences are generally better suited to users who do not seek remuneration from copyright.

Using other’s logos or trade marks

A question that often arises is to what extent people may include the brand logos or trade marks of others in blog content. In terms of logos – say, logos of famous companies such as Virgin, Barclays, or Coca Cola – the best advice is: “don’t” because most of brand logos are usually protected by both trade mark registration, and copyright. This means that any reproduction by you on your blog of another’s brand logo is potentially copyright infringement.

In contrast, the mere reference in your blog to a word trade mark  – such as “BARCLAYS BANK” or “GAP” – is unlikely to amount to trade mark infringement. This is because, generally speaking, names do not enjoy copyright protection. Also, trade mark infringement is based on consumer confusion and so a mere reference to BARCLAYS BANK in your blog is not necessarily going to confuse your readers. That said, if your use is such that the relevant consumer might be led to believe that your blog is somehow connected to or supported by Barclays Bank, your use could potentially amount to trade mark infringement. So, when in doubt stick to merely referring to their brand names and avoid using other’s trade marks in such a way as to cause consumer confusion.

So, now that you have some basic insights into the IP laws, happy blogging!

Branding and Intellectual Property – Why You Should Begin With the End in Mind

intellectual property branding“Begin With the End in Mind.” as Stephen Covey put it in the 7 habits of highly effective people.

It’s worth taking the time to consider what you ultimately value in life. What really matters to you, and what you hope it all adds up to in the end.

Studies have shown that living a life of purpose leads to better health and overall happiness.

Think about what your purpose in life is and keep doing so regularly till you’re clear.

 

Working Out My Purpose

One way I’ve looked at the topic is to ask myself, if I were diagnosed with a terminal illness like Steve Jobs was, would I continue working, doing what I’m doing to the end or would I immediately want to stop work?

For me, the answer is that I would continue working to the end, as Steve Jobs did because I’ve gradually created a business that is engaged in solving a meaningful problem in the world, and I have a vision for how to do it.

It wasn’t always so.

If the answer for you indicates that you are probably not living your purpose, then continue to search for it by doing work that takes you closer to it and you too might gradually find your purpose as I’ve now found mine.

I’d been working towards it all these years and step by step I’ve now found it.

 

Those Who Always Knew Their Purpose Are Rare

There are those lucky ones in life who just know what their life purpose is from a young age, and they know the path to follow to achieve their purpose.

A friend of mine at law school had wanted to be a lawyer since she was 9, and she’s gone on to do great things as a lawyer.

I recently went to see the film On the Basis Of Sex based on the life and early cases of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg and clearly she was one of those lucky ones with a calling for the law. She also chose a husband who was similarly dedicated to the law.

I’m sad that I didn’t always know my life purpose, nor did I know how important it is to search for it till recently.

But at least I’ve gradually arrived at it, albeit relatively late in the day although now that I’ve found it, I feel sure that its effect will be quickly evident in my business.

 

Background Behind My Career Choice of Law

Choosing law as a profession was more a conscious choice than a calling for me. I wanted a professional qualification. My A level subjects narrowed the options to law or accountancy.

It would have been great to be able to choose architecture. That really appealed to me, but I lacked the Art and Maths A levels needed. The fact is though that I didn’t go back to school to get those subjects because it wasn’t that important to me to qualify as an architect.

So, that’s how I opted for law.

Over the years I often questioned whether the choice of career was the right one. Aspects of the job that didn’t appeal to me were being stuck in an office pouring over contract wording. The jobs I had in private practice involved too much of that, even though on the surface it seemed glamorous when I worked at Eversheds, an international law firm.

My in-house role at Reuters for 5 years was much more suited to my inclinations and interests, as there was more contact with the client, and I was exposed to the commercial side of life.

I had always had a vague idea of setting up my own business but a law firm business was just too daunting given my lack of experience of private practice.

During maternity leave I explored alternative career options, qualifying as a journalist. At one stage I even seriously considered setting up a Persian Ash food business.

However, I invariably gravitated back to law, and it was intellectual property law I chose to study as a Masters’ degree subject during the years I took out of the workplace to bring up my two daughters.

My father’s sudden death and the memory of his advice to set up my own law firm were the catalyst for taking the plunge and setting up what is now Azrights Solicitors.

 

Intellectual Property and Business Are Intertwined

Through the enquiries, I was receiving I soon discovered that people were making fundamental mistakes around IP.  Sometimes there were devastating consequences for some of these businesses leading to insolvency even.

I liked how closely intertwined business and IP are, which hadn’t been apparent when working on the intellectual property needs of a large blue-chip business, like Reuters. At the small business level, I could see just how significant IP is in any business. Yet it struck me how often people were completely unaware of the IP dimension and made decisions which were not in their long-term interests.

Over time I’ve realised that the best way to address the problems small businesses have with intellectual property is to embed legal advice and best practice into processes that businesses of any size can follow whether they’re start-ups or established.

The result is Legally Branded Academy 2.0, a risk management solution which will enable businesses located anywhere in the world to protect their intellectual property seamlessly. It’s launching soon so register your interest to be notified when it’s released.

People simply need to adopt recommended processes, and then induct their team to follow them when implementing new ideas.

My experience indicates that the mistakes businesses make around intellectual property occur in the early stages of projects, before anyone would even consider consulting a lawyer. Yet it’s just too impractical to take legal advice early on during the life of new projects on all the details you need to know.

Most people would want to first test the water, perhaps even wait and see if the project has any legs before asking a lawyer for help to protect what they’ve created.  Many will only think about protection if their project is a success.

However, with IP, a lot of “protection” happens in the early stages when you make choices. It’s as much about doing the right due diligences, signing the right documents, at the right time as it is about registering your rights. Hence why the right procedures are the way to protect IP, and I’m launching Legally Branded Academy 2.0 to enable everyone to protect their IP.

 

Aligning Branding With Intellectual Property

Over the years I have also gradually learned more about branding and its importance to business success.

One problem is that people assume branding is about getting pretty design work done, whereas the visual identity is the last thing to work on not the first. You just need some inexpensive designs initially while you test the market, and focus on designing the actual business itself rather than its visual appearance.

Another problem is that people don’t realise how vital it is to register their rights once they undergo branding. It’s essential to have a budget for both branding and IP protection because the whole point of branding is to stand out, and if you don’t stand out from an IP point of view then you don’t stand out as a business. And if you don’t protect the unique visual identity that’s designed for you, then you risk it becoming generic, undoing all the expensive branding work in the process.

 

Positioning and Your Niche

But before that, the really important decisions about branding are your positioning in the market and working out your niche. These are the things that make the difference between success or failure for a business.

Businesses tend to change radically in the early years. A few years after starting up, they may look nothing like their initial manifestation. This is because it’s common for new businesses to not know what it is exactly that they do, and who they do it for.

It can take time for start-ups to find their feet.  The business needs to see how the market responds to its offerings, so its initial focus might well change.

As a business gradually achieves clarity about the demand for its goods and services, and figures out which services will generate revenue, it can better position itself in the market.

Education and a commitment to working on the business is what branding should involve in the early days. I’ve created a course, More Than Brand, to enable people to do this

 

Trademarks and IP, Business and Branding

Topics I deal with all the time like trademarks and naming are closely connected with branding so I found myself more and more engaged by the related topics of branding, business and the intellectual property dimension of law.

The combination of these subjects matter enormously to business success and are not necessarily particularly obvious or exciting to businesses so they can miss some important issues when they’re implementing new business ideas.

My purpose is to help businesses to succeed and have greater security by underpinning their business with intellectual property processes to protect their IP.

I want to revolutionise branding by partnering with branding agencies and business advisers to bring intellectual property into the mix. IP is often missed out in branding currently, and treated as something you can leave till later, when you come to protect your IP. However, that is incorrect because branding involves creating new IP and if you don’t consider IP you could end up with an inadequate brand.

Providing a multidisciplinary approach when branding a business is the key to ensuring that businesses undergoing branding increase their chances of success.

So, now I have this clarity about the purpose of the Azrights business, it will help when engaging team members because if their purpose as individuals aligns with that of the Azrights business we’ll have the right dynamic for a longer term relationship.

 

How to Work Out Your Purpose

So, to go back to purpose. Whether you’re looking for employment or are starting a new venture it’s vital to ask yourself some searching questions. What’s the motivation driving it?

Getting clarity on purpose is essential. As Steve Jobs put it, doing work you love is important. He said

You’ve got to find what you love . . . Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work”…..”the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.”

This question of fulfilment and purpose is an important one for all of us to think about whether we’re in business or working in careers.

If you’re starting a new venture, then are you aiming to make it big? Do you aspire to be the next Richard Branson or Anita Roddick? Or are you just intending to be self-employed?  Certainly, when I founded my law firm, 15 years ago I just wanted to work flexibly around my two daughters so I could be there for them instead of handing over to a nanny to raise them.

Aspirations change over time. Certainly, mine have.

My ambition, and love of entrepreneurship were the catalyst to growing the Azrights business, and now with clarity around my purpose the Azrights business is set to make a far greater impact I hope.

 

Conclusion

Life is short and at the end of the day you’re going to ask yourself the question, or your children will wonder on your behalf, what was it all about, what were you up to during your short time on earth?

I believe that what we do can touch other people’s lives in ways we’ll never know. So, it’s not necessarily my own visible achievements that will ultimately matter the most. Who knows how others might be impacted or benefit from my existence or ideas?

We all want to dedicate ourselves to a cause greater than ourselves. Doing so contributes to our need for significance and meaning.

Purpose is innate to the human condition. If you’re doing work that gives your life meaning why ever stop?

That’s why the important thing for me is to continue contributing to the world. Far from wanting to retire, I want to continue working for as long as I am healthy and able to work. I hope that will be at a 100 years old.