Tag Archives: IP

Legally Branded Podcast – Intellectual Property: The Challenges of Protecting Ideas

podcast_shireen_smithEven if an idea involves creating something tangible, the product resulting from that idea has many components, which are intangibles, that are necessary to its existence. So if you happen to have a great idea, how do you protect it? In this episode, find out how you can address the challenges of protecting intellectual property.

Click to Listen to Legally Branded podcast.

Topics Discussed in this Episode:

  • The challenges of protecting intellectual property
  • The best way to begin to address intellectual property
  • How to reduce the legal costs
  • The intangibles and their impact
  • How to make it easier to build management of IP in the day to day running of your venture


Key Takeaways:

  • For many people, an idea is their key to economic success. Therefore, being able to protect its resulting output as intellectual property is crucial if the business is to grow in value.
  • People assume that they automatically own intellectual property, but this is not true. An action is required to turn an idea into IP.
  • Leveraging IP is how the value embedded in it is realised.
  • A new venture, when it’s just in your head, that’s when you need to understand the risks and opportunities.
  • The best way to achieve success and avoid wasting unnecessary time and energy down the line is to learn the essentials of trademark and other intellectual property that are involved when turning ideas into something that’s out in the real world.
  • Intangible assets cannot be measured unless they are managed.
  • For any new venture, the time to think about IP protection and intangibles is when writing the business plan. And the business plan, when it’s written, should set the strategy on IP matters.


Action Steps:

  • To avoid losing an opportunity and create valuable intellectual property, first identify what it is you’re going to create, what actions you need to take to capture it and, depending on the IP in question, what other actions you need to take.
  • Conduct proper checks of trademark registers. It’s also possible to create a liability instead of an asset where proper checks of trademarks registers aren’t first undertaken.
  • Consider IP really early on in the early stages of a project. Get a good understanding of IP and eliminate the risks that dealing with IP in a piecemeal fashion has.
  • Focus on the intangibles. This is the way you can preserve the investment of your business in its brand, creative efforts, design, and technology.


Shireen said:

“The name of the game with intellectual property is to be proactive in the early stages of any project when turning an idea into something concrete in the real world.”


“IP knowledge and skills are how you protect yourself. And even if you intend to use a lawyer, you need to know some of it yourself. It’s just not an option to not understand intellectual property in this day and age.”


Thank you for listening!


Look into my Legally Branded Academy Course to upskill yourself and your team, and discover the roadmap for a successful implementation of ideas! It’s not an alternative to use lawyers, it’s simply equipping YOU with the business skills in today’s digital economy.


To access the free audio on How to Trademark a Name, subscribe to this podcast and download all the past episodes, and send an email to [email protected] saying what time of day you did so.


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Branding is IP

Branding – Why IP Is Intrinsic To The Work

Branding involves creBranding is IPating Intellectual Property (IP). Intangible assets produced during branding should be well chosen to ensure elements like names and logos are available to use and do not infringe on somebody else’s rights. A solid understanding of IP law can help ensure that the choices are also capable of creating potentially valuable intellectual property that is capable of protecting a company’s competitive market position.

Agencies need a way to incorporate IP considerations into their work. The practice of leaving IP considerations for clients themselves to deal with through their own lawyers’ due diligence on names leaves a lot to be desired.

Many clients lack an appreciation of the risks and opportunities that IP presents. The widespread belief that the legal aspects of branding can be passed on to clients therefore leaves them exposed. Many clients do not have access to lawyers with the appropriate skills to do searches during naming projects, or to give advice on copyright or designs.

Few have access to lawyers with the appropriate skills

Branding agencies are much better placed to provide the necessary legal checks. Any agency that creates intellectual property for clients play an important role in the client’s ultimate value as a business. So, they need to know about

  • Trademarks
  • Copyright
  • Designs

These IP laws are relevant to an agency’s own business, and also determine whether suitable IP is created for clients. For example, a good name is one that does not infringe on anyone else’s rights. Also, it must be the right type of name so it may be uniquely owned. Also, it is vital that steps are taken to protect the name before design work begins.

That is how you ensure the identities or other intangibles created, generate wealth and value for clients if their ventures succeed.

The importance of names

Names are potentially one of the most important IP assets a business uses. Key points are:

  1. Names should not infringe on the rights of others. So, legal due diligence before adopting a name is crucial. If someone else is using the same name it may be appropriate to abandon that name and find another.
  2. The adopted name must be capable of functioning as a trademark. Not all names are capable of being owned.
  3. The name should be ‘clear’ to use before trademarking. Trademarks are cancellable so doing due diligence is essential before registering a trademark.

Unfortunately, there is little real understanding of IP among SMEs, so agencies have an important role to play in educating their clients to help them to succeed with IP.

Inadequate training

However, designers own training rarely equips them with the knowledge to advise SMEs on IP issues. Few design courses cover intellectual property law, except in a cursory way. So designers tend to have to muddle through and learn about IP from hard experience.

If a design professional starts their working life in a large agency they are unlikely to be involved in every aspect of a project. So they are generally unaware of what goes on behind the scenes to clear names, and search logos. By the time they set up on their own, they have little insight into IP laws. A steep learning curve often lies ahead of them. The unlucky ones make serious IP mistakes along the road to wisdom.

Need for suitable IP help

So branding agencies need to find suitable IP help to better manage the complexity of IP laws given the central relevance of IP to the work of agencies.

The vast majority of branding agencies do their own checks during naming projects. However, they lack access to quality advice to interpret the results of their searches. Lack of guidance to interpret the results of searches can lead to perfectly suitable names being dropped.

It is not just when you’re finding a new name for a client that you need to do checks though. It is also important to verify whether a name that clients themselves have selected is suitable. In my book Intellectual Property Revolution which is a best seller on Amazon there are numerous case study examples of what happens when a business is stopped from using its name due to trademark infringement

Risk of leaving due diligence to clients’ own lawyers

The risk of leaving the legal checks to clients’ own lawyers – something many of them will not do – is that the name undergoes no legal clearance at all, and the client is left using a name which might cause problems for them several years down the line.

Alternatively, if the client does engage its own lawyers to do legal checks then the client might be disappointed if the name does not hold up to legal scrutiny. It also puts the agency in a difficult position as to where to draw the boundary unless it has clarified in advance what legal checks the name must withstand.

The fact is there are many different types of searches it is possible to do on names.

Names are just one type of IP issue that branding agencies need to know about.

We have solutions for agencies that want to address the legal issues in novel ways without incurring any overhead costs – something agencies generally associate with legal help.

We’d love to let you know about our innovative way of helping you with the legal aspects of your work, so please contact us or submit an enquiry referencing this blog.

Why Most Businesses Fail at Legally Protecting Themselves!

Intellectual Property Infringement – How To Stop Alibaba From Selling Your (Fake) Products

Protection of Intellectual PropertyIntellectual property (IP) infringement is damaging for any business, and can be a particular problem for those that sell products online through platforms like Alibaba.

Chances are that if you have a business and your business has a website, you count as one of thousands of growing digital companies that export their IP to the world. This also exposes you to risks that you are probably unaware of. IP and copyright in particular, are complex areas of law. Alas, copyright infringement and counterfeits take a stronghold where others seek to exploit your commercial endeavours at your expense. One prime suspect is China, where e-commerce piracy is still very prevalent.

It only takes a moment to understand why it is important to police your brand against intellectual property infringement when you analyse the number of sales made on Chinese e-commerce platforms, such as Alibaba. According to an article on fortune.com, last year, Alibaba represented 86% of China’s online mobile shopping, with 367 million active users, which, on the average, each active buyer purchases 58 packages a year. It has over 10 million active sellers, which dwarves Amazon’s 2 million. In short, it is a marketplace like no other.

It is unfortunate and nonetheless very common, that brands suffer at the behest of counterfeit sellers in this megalith-type online marketplace where copying and counterfeit trading is rife.

How To Put An End To It

Despite the growing complaints against Alibaba, counterfeit and copyright infringement is still a big problem. Those who have filed a lawsuit against Alibaba Group Holding earlier in May include Kering SA who own Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent amongst others.

In order to stop Alibaba from selling your (fake) products, they need to be alerted that there is a seller who is selling unauthorized copies or fake versions of your product. To do this, you have to follow a procedure which deals with IP complaints on the Alibaba platform. This involves proving the ownership of your IP rights through a specially developed ‘AliProtect’ platform.

Through ‘AliProtect’, users are able to identify the infringer and demand that the infringement be brought to an end by removing the fake listing. It is not as easy as it sounds. Also, as a listing is removed, another appears. Further, proving ownership might be problematic. For example, in the UK you do not need to register copyright, whereas in the USA or China it is usual to do so. Consequently, playing a game of online “whack-a-mole” can be distracting and also disruptive to your business. If you ignore it, you risk putting your brand’s hard earned reputation, and takings, on the line.

Get Help With Intellectual Property Infringement 

It’s difficult to make a complaint about intellectual property infringement when you are not sure how copyright or trademark ownership issues are decided on these platforms. It can be a time consuming exercise which will divert your attention and energy from what you ought to be doing.

Involving IP lawyers who understand counterfeits, and intellectual property infringement can save you time, energy and money in the long run by diverting sales back to authorized distributors and sellers.

Azrights has assisted clients with such problems. Identifying intellectual property, and advising on strategic, cost effective protection is an important component of such advice. Issuing take down notices to infringing parties, is essential, as is policing your brand in order to maintain its commercial allure. Get in touch to find out how we might be able to help you fight unauthorized sellers distributing fake copies of your products .

Intellectual Property Costs

Intellectual Property Costs Deter Innovation

Intellectual Property CostsIntellectual property (IP) costs should be taken into account in the business plan. Few entrepreneurs know exactly which rights relate to their business and even fewer know how much it will cost to protect them. The cost of IP protection involves paying official fees, and legal fees.

Litigation is not a cost that all businesses need to spend money on, and therefore, need only be planned if there is an actual dispute involving the business. Indeed, protecting a company’s IP will often reduce the likelihood of litigation.

Costs involved in protecting your ideas

When compared to the costs involved in litigating to protect your ideas from being copied, the cost of protecting your rights through registration or contracts are insignificant.  As we wrote in our previous blog “SMEs And IP – FSB Reports They Struggle To Protect Their Intellectual Property”, that is the case especially with small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) which do not have the budget to protect their IP rights. They suffer losses as a consequence.

Think about the following interesting comparison made by the Financial Times. To fund the International Space Station over ten years’ costs about €100 billion. The patent war in the smartphone industry, on the other hand costs $20 billion over two years. That is a lot to spend even for giants like Apple, Samsung or Motorola who all battle to protect their IP. Such costs are unbearable for start-ups and SMEs. As the Financial Times interestingly states, “the costs of litigation are astronomical and the outcome, too uncertain”.

The Vicious Circle Of Intellectual Property Costs

This is why companies end up in a vicious circle. If a company cannot afford to protect its IP rights, it suffers losses as a result. If it invests in IP protection, and cannot afford to litigate its rights should that be necessary, it cannot protect what it owns.

The research of the Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) surveyed more than 1,000 of FSB’s 200,000 members. Only 32% had actually spent money to secure their IP rights within the last five years, 22% of whom invested more than £5,000. Furthermore, around 25% of the businesses surveyed responded that they have suffered some form of violation or misuse of their IP and a third of them took no action over the theft because of lack of resources and information as to the correct routes and costs involved.

Governmental Actions Needed

The reality, therefore, is that IP law must adapt to change because, as the Hargreaves Report warned, innovations are stifled by the current framework.

The onus is on the Government to better promote the IP services available and install effective instruments that will enable adequate protection. The Hargreaves Review suggested that “there are outstanding uses that need to be resolved”. Therefore, there is a need for a collective action to resolve this problem. However, given that the UK Government is planning to double the fee for issuing civil lawsuit, it will be another deterrent to small businesses to protect their intellectual property.

Nevertheless, businesses should make sure their IP rights are protected adequately and be on the safe side if they need to litigate them. Litigation is more unlikely if intellectual property is effectively protected. Therefore, IP protection should be top priority for any ambitious business.

Copyright Lawsuit

Copyright Lawsuit – “Happy Birthday” Song Copyright Claim Over

Copyright LawsuitA copyright lawsuit involving the world-famous “Happy Birthday” song has ended following a ruling this week. The dispute about the famous song has been finally resolved a BBC Article reports. Watner/Chappell Music will no longer be collecting royalties for the song Happy Birthday following US District Judge George H. King’s ruling.

Copyright Validity

The song’s original copyright was acquired by music giant Warner/Chappell who have made around $2 million a year from royalty payments whenever the song is used in a film, television episode, advertisement or other public performance.

The tune was composed by two sisters Parry and Mildred Hill in 1893 under the name Good Morning all and was acquired by Warner/Chappell in 1935 and, without the court judgement, it would not have been freely available in the public domain in the US until 2030 and in the EU until 31 December 2016.

Copyright Lawsuit And The Ruling

The case was filed by Rupa Marya and Robert Siegel in 2013 because they are making a film about the song and did not want to pay royalties. They argued the song is in the public domain and should not be subject to copyright fees.

The judge ruled that the original copyright granted to the defendants was only for specific arrangements and is not exclusive. Therefore, they do not own a valid copyright in the song. The ruling can be read online here. However, this still does not mean that the song is freely available in the public domain to use because, as Chloe Smith reports for the Law Gazette, there still may be elements of the song that are copyright protected.

Read the full BBC article.

3D Tradermarks

3D Trademarks & Registered Designs – KitKat Loses Legal Fight For Four-Finger Chocolate Bar

3D Trademark3D trademarks are notoriously difficult to register, as Nestlé found out last week just short of a few broken fingers. Earlier this summer we wrote about the Advocat-General’s (AG) opinion of the European court in our blog post 3D trademarks – No breaks for KitKat. It was reported that the AG’s opinion is normally followed by European judges and, unfortunately for Nestlé, the European court of justice has, according to the AG’s opinion, ruled that the four-finger chocolate bar lacks acquired distinctiveness for trademark registration.

Why Have 3D Trademark?

Trademarks are powerful intellectual property (IP) assets. They create scarcity where none exist, help drive away competition by protecting your trademark from same and similar marks and build brand associations which can be more valuable than the goods and services themselves.

3D trademarks can therefore be incredibly useful tools in your IP portfolio. This is because shapes can be more symbolic and also more powerful than words or logos. However, registering a 3D trademark has always been a tricky effort, especially for Nestlé whose KitKat shape was said not to comply with EU law. So why go to all that effort? For Nestlé, it may have simply been a question of one-upmanship in a tit for tat battle with Cadbury’s, one of its main competitors. Following a street survey which revealed that 90% of consumers recognized the chocolate bar (without its packaging) as a ‘KitKat’, you might understand why Nestlé went for the break.

Alternative Forms For Shape Protection?

One thing that should not be forgotten is that shapes can also be protected as a registered design which, in the UK, can last up to a maximum of 25 years. Protecting a shape as a registered design can therefore be seen as a viable alternative to a difficult to obtain 3D trademark. The two forms of protection are not mutually exclusive and there is nothing to prevent a trademark from also being a registered design. And, to this extent, the two IP regimes can offer complimentary forms of protection.

Why Apply For A Registered Design?

The main reason why you may decide to apply for design protection is that it is easier to obtain a registered design for a shape than it is obtaining a trademark. A trademark needs to be inherently distinctive, or have acquired distinctiveness through use, and must be capable of distinguishing the goods and services from one undertaking to those of another. A registered design on the other hand does not have such onerous requirements of distinctiveness, only that they are new (different from similar products on the market) and do not serve a technical function.

To give a modern example, take the iPod. It was reported in 2008 that the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) had granted Apple the 3D trademark for the infamous iPod music play. The Wall Street Journal noted that Apple’s campaign involved a substantial marketing campaign, product development and legal strategy to ensure that the product design was unique. The multi-layering of IP strategies helped Apple to dominate the market, reportedly amounting onto 70% of the market share in 2005. Such is the efficacy leveraging one IP asset against another.

Are you thinking about protecting the shape of one of your products? If you have a design which you think is particularly unique, Azrights can help you determine what the best strategy is for your product or design. Contact us for more information or alternatively visit our trademark registration and registered design pages.

Design Registration – YSL Wins Over H&M

Community Registered Designs and Patents Design registraion is an important way in which to protect the unique shapes or surface designs that a company’s designers produce. Generally, there is no requirement to prove novelty in order to register a design. It is only when you want to rely on your design registration that it is relevant to prove novelty.So, the recent decision where Yves Saint Laurent (YSL) claimed victory over H&M because it indicates that it is not necessary for designers to come up with something radically different to what is on the market to qualify for design protection.

Overall Individual Character Wins

Last week the luxury fashion house YSL emerged victorious from a nine-year legal battle with the high-street retailer H&M over the validity of its two EU registered designs for its handbags.

H&M challenged the two registered designs, pointing to previous designs as evidence that the YSL designs lacked the required “individual character” to qualify for valid design protection. However, on the 10 September, the European General Court confirmed the previous decisions made by the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market (OHIM) that YSL’s handbag designs had key differences from what H&M had cited as evidence. In passing the judgment the court held: “it must be held that the differences between the designs at issue are significant and that similarities between them are insignificant in the overall impression which they produce”. For a full summary of the judgment, see the official press release by the General Court of the European Union here.

YSL’s design:

YSL’s design

H&M’s evidence of prior design:


Trademark Infringement – E-Commerce Giants Sued For Online Selling Of Counterfeit Goods

Trademark InfringementTrademark infringement claims are on the rise with recent disputes related to the sale of counterfeit products on platforms such as eBay and Alibaba. In our previous blog post, Online Selling And Your Obligations To The Consumer, we highlighted the basic issues in relation to online selling regulations. At the heart of it, online sellers need to make sure they are in conformity with the law but, according to a recent article by Lawyers and Settlements, it seems that eBay and PayPal, as the online payment system, have failed to comply with these requirements.

Trademark Infringement Cases

A lawsuit has been filed against eBay and PayPal for trademark infringement following the sale of fake products on eBay’s platform. The filing itself notes that counterfeiting is a big business, costing retailers in the industry between $200 and $250 billion dollars each year and in addition, dilutes the trademarks of the protected products.

eBay’s Liabilities

The suit was filed by Wimo Labs – a company with many registered trademarks mainly for iPhone and Apple watch cases and alleges that as many as 2,000 eBay sellers (who are also named as defendants in the lawsuit) are using their trademarks to sell counterfeit products and deceive consumers. The way eBay and PayPal are involved in the infringing activities is that they have knowingly and deliberately facilitated and profited from the sale of the fake products. What is more, eBay is alleged to have engaged in soliciting eBay buyers to purchase fake products.

According to Deborah Klar, co-counsel with R. Rex Parris Law Firm on the claim, the claimant company has sent more than 5,000 notices of claimed trademark infringement to eBay since 2013, requesting the e-commerce giant to remove the fake products. Additionally, rather than responding to a third-party from The Counterfeit Report, eBay instead opted to change commentary on the report’s sites and blocked The Counterfeit Report’s corporate accounts.

Klar also commented that “the sale of fake products causes consumer confusion, adversely affects their brand and also means our client has lost sales.” She also adds that “as a result of the sale of these fake products on eBay, our client has suffered substantial damage.” The problem with fake products is that they are widespread on eBay and have a tremendous impact on the sellers invested in protecting their brands.

Paypal’s Involvement

Regarding PayPal as a defendant, according to Wimo’s counsel, the former eBay unit is the link between eBay buyers and counterfeit sellers. As such, the company is actually in a position to stop eBay’s practices by simply removing the ability for those sellers to get paid.

Alibaba And Their Approach

On a separate note, Chinese e-commerce giant, Alibaba, has recently been criticized for being too soft towards counterfeit sellers. As a result, Alibaba has launched a new English version of its counterfeit reporting system called “TaoProtect”. Although AliBaba has another platform called “AliProtect” which covers its other websites, TaoProtect has been developed exclusively for dealing with a range of Intellectual Property (IP) complaints such as copyright, patent and trademark infringement and unfair use of those IP rights. This reveals the scale of the problem as well as the serious steps conglomerates such as Alibaba take to ensure IP rights are effectively protected.

The launch of the English version of TaoProtect, UK and other Western European companies would be able to access easily the counterfeit reporting system. Alibaba’s US-based senior IP protection manager commented that “because the success and integrity of our marketplaces depend on consumer trust, we have comprehensive policies and practices in place to fight IP infringement.”

The improvement in their system comes partly as a result of the lawsuit filed against Alibaba by companies like Gucci and Yves St. Laurent. The suit was filed by Kering (the fashion house which owns these brands) last May and a US District Judge in Manhattan granted to some of them an immediate order barring sales of goods on Alibaba.

Lexology commented that, generally, for brand owners having secured trademark registrations in China, the US and wherever else your business operates is the safest route to tackle online infringement.

This article aims to be an informative piece, providing you with the latest developments in the IP and commercial world. However, it is likely that your business faces similar issues. Therefore, if you need specific help to your situation, we can help. We have experience of dealing with different platforms online related to Trademark Infringement.

Your name, know your game.

Trademarks In China – How Difficult Is It To Protect Intellectual Property?

Trademarks In China : Your name, know your game.Trademarks in China are among the many difficult challenges for businesses operating internationally. Chinese intellectual property legislation has been notoriously difficult for Western companies to deal with as we outlined in our previous blog post trade mark registration and brand extension in China

Michael Jordan and his sneaker brand is the latest to be caught in the snare.

A Beijing court has dismissed a trademark opposition brought by Michael Jordan against a company using the name ‘Qiaodan’, which is the Chinese version of Jordan’s name, but also one with a similar pronunciation and uncreative similar logo. The Chinese company had effectively constructed an entire brand based on the Nike-produced brand.

A Reuters’ article reported that a Chinese sportswear company had built around the world-famous basketball player’s Chinese name and even his famous basketball jersey, number “23”, without his permission. However, it seems that the battle is set to continue according to Advertising Age who reported that Michael Jordan’s legal counsel confirmed last week that they plan to file for retrial by November.

Big Names And Their Trademarks In China

Unfortunately, this tends to be quite a common occurrence in China, whose system gives favour to those who are first-to-file, unlike in the USA, where favour is given to those who are first-to-use. In 2012, the tech giant Apple Inc. had to settle a $60 million lawsuit to a Chinese firm, Proview, in order to use the ‘iPad’ name. A steep price for not getting in early, and, recently, one which is set to be even steeper for the new Apple iWatch as we wrote about in our earlier blog post “iWatch Trade mark – Apple In Multimillion Dispute”.

However, Apple was not the only victim with their trademarks in China. Pfizer has not registered the Chinese equivalent for the name ‘Viagra’ which it had trademarked and consequently ended up losing it to a local Chinese company that had claimed ownership over it. Luxury fashion brands Burberry and Hermes have also run into similar problems. The importance of your company’s name has never been as important as it is today.

Our Intellectual Property Advice

Here are some tips when it comes to your trademarks in China or in other parts of the world:

1.     Move Fast

Most people tend to see intellectual property as a burdensome cost at the beginning of an entrepreneurial venture. Whilst it is true that intellectual property registration can be a costly exercise, investing in your intellectual property early will save you thousands, if not millions down the line. This is true especially if you intend to take your brand to ‘first-to-file’ jurisdictions like China. There is no end to those who will try and appropriate from you, make sure they do not appropriate your intellectual property by registering before you do.

2.     Have An Intellectual Property Strategy

Intellectual property is territorial, meaning that where it is registered it is a valid right. It would be expensive and also impractical to be registered in every corner of the world, no matter how ideal that would be. Having a strategy means having the foresight about what your product is, what your brand encompasses, who are those that are likely to invest into your brand and what markets they are operating in. Before you set foot in that territory and gain large exposure, seek to register your company name and branded products so that the foundations for your commercial operations are already set.

3.     Know Your Name

For long, many creative and branding agencies and the like, have been churning out names based on a few online checks. The reality of what is a good name and what can be a valid trademark are two completely separate issues. For example, Pfizer not knowing what the Chinese equivalent name for “Viagra” cost them dearly.

Recently, last April, a New Balance affiliate ordered to cough up $16 million in compensation to a Chinese show manufacturer who had registered the Chinese brand name “Xin Bai Lun.” New Balance knew about the trademark but continued to operate under the impression that there would be no consequences. If you are going to places such as China, undertaking the correct international searches and working with intellectual property lawyers and translators are crucial in this process.

Visit our Trademarks services page to learn more about trademarks. We can help whether you need an international name search, want to know more about registering your trademark overseas, or want to brainstorm a solid IP strategy to leverage your brand and prevent others from using your trademarks in China or in any part of the world.

Intellectual Property Reforms Prove Successful – From Zero To Hero

IP Reform is SuccessfulAn independent report commissioned by the IPO entitled Evaluation of the Reforms of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court 2010-2013 was published very recently examining the effect of the recent reforms in the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC), the former Patents County Court (PCC).

The primary objective of the recent changes were to improve the litigation procedures and reduce litigation costs and, as a result, to increase access to justice in IP matters with special focus on individual claimants and SMEs who struggled financially to fight IP cases. Yassine Lefouili, one of the co-authors of the report, affirms the positive developments following the changes resulting in qualitative and quantitative evidence that there has been large increase in the number of intellectual property cases.

Governmental support

Introducing the report, IP Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe praised the changes and confirmed that small and medium sized businesses and entrepreneurs now have better chances to actually defend their IP rights. This is good news, especially following a recent FSB research we wrote about in our article “SMEs And IP – FSB Reports They Struggle To Protect Their Intellectual Property” which revealed the struggle of SMEs and start ups to protect their IP.

The improvements come as a result of the costs cap and the 2010 active case management process. These amendments speed up the litigation process and also serve as an awareness tool for litigants to understand better their exposure before filing a claim. What is more, as Chloe Smith underlines for the Law Gazette, changes have opened up IPEC for patent and trade mark attorneys who are now able to represent their clients in court more often.

This suggests that reforms have paid off and, as the PatLit suggests, with the introduction of the Small Claims track we might as well have even better news in a following report.