10th June 2019
They Stole My Idea! How To Protect Your Brand, Design And Other IP Rights
You or your business have come up with a new and innovative idea for a product, design or other creative work. You have invested considerable time, effort and money in creating and developing it. If you are selling it, you have also spent money on its presentation, branding and market-positioning. So what should you do if you discover that another business is using or selling your product, or copying your brand?
Many business ventures and creative projects develop intellectual property (IP) rights such as copyright. This literally means they have ‘the right to copy’ it. It is easy to see how copyright applies to an artistic work like a novel, design or a song. But IP protection can also apply to a business name and logo, to trademarks and patents, design rights, database rights, data protection, trade secrets and know-how, and website and domain names. IP exists in ‘creations of the mind’, such as inventions, designs, computer software coding, artistic works, images and brand names. The law protects some of these ideas and products, but as the creator or owner of the IP you need to take positive action to secure that protection.
Don’t forget about your brand. It can become one of the most valuable assets of a business and a major part of its IP. If you go into Starbucks, you have certain expectations about the coffee you buy: “Starbucks” is an information shortcut for consumers, and therefore an extremely valuable asset for the company. The term to google has entered the language although Google owns the copyright on the word. If your brand is going to be a major part of your business identity, then it is vital that your brand is registered and protected, and not only in the UK if you trade abroad.
How do you enforce your rights if they are infringed? The first step is to notify the infringer as soon as possible that you are aware of the infringement, and demand that they stop selling, stop using your logo, stop copying your product. If they have made a copy of an item in which you have IP rights, then you can demand that the copy product is sent to you or that it is destroyed. You can claim compensation, and if the infringer has made a profit from their copy you can claim those profits. If the dispute continues, you may need to apply to the court for an injunction to prevent further infringement.
To find out more about protecting your IP rights, click here.