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What to do if someone is Copying your IP

Intellectual Property infringement can have serious consequences.  In our latest blog, Catherine BonnerPatents Director at Murgitroyd explains the steps you can take to protect yourself.  

Regularly monitoring the market place, either physically by attending trade shows and visiting your competitors’ exhibition stands, or online by checking the web for products or brands within your market or territory is always useful. Keeping ahead of the competition is key for any business regardless of its size.

Copying IP can take many forms. Someone could have or use an identical mark or a “confusingly similar” mark or perhaps create a product with the same functionality as yours which could already be out there and available for sale.

We’ve compiled a list of key steps to take if you suspect someone is copying your Intellectual Property:

Step 1: Evidence

The first step is always to gather evidence. It is crucial to pinpoint exactly what has been copied. The evidence you gather should always be dated. Current examples of the products or brands being copied are key. Also, identifying any historic evidence that your product or brand has been copied will further reinforce your case. Examples of key pieces of evidence include: the competitor’s product, a link to the web page where the product is sold, an article in the trade press, or information regarding how the product works, its functionality, etc.

Step 2: Seek Advice

It is essential to seek advice at the earliest opportunity. An Intellectual Property expert – either a Patent or Trade Mark Attorney – will help you by examining the evidence you have gathered. As mentioned, the more evidence you have, the more it will assist your IP Attorney to protect your rights. Your IP advisor will then look at the IP rights you have. They will also look at any unregistered rights you may have. These steps are crucial in order to establish whether your rights have actually been copied.

Step 3: Talk to the Infringer 

Once your IP Attorney has established that your rights are being copied, they will contact the other party to discuss. It is important to note that infringement can be completely unintentional and can be resolved by simply highlighting to the other party that your have existing rights. As there are strict rules around contacting potential infringers, it is better for your IP advisor to contact them on your behalf, even if you are tempted to do so.

Still unsure? Murgitroyd has released a copying-related podcast which is available here  Alternatively, email Catherine Bonner for more advice.