Over £1billion is lost to the UK each year, through counterfeiting, plagiarism and IP theft. On Monday 28th March, Dids Macdonald appeared on BBC1 Crimewatch to comment on the devastating effects of design theft recently experienced by RCA designer James Long. Warning all designers pan industry to get their IP tool kits in order, Dids focused on preventative measures to help creatives from fashion to product designers to protect original work.


On February 15th 2008 James a graduate of the Royal College of Art, showcased his collection at the MAN show. This was Long’s first professional catwalk show, he had been selected by the MAN panel (made up of industry figures including Fashion East, journalists and Topman) as a promising new designer and was one of only three to feature in this menswear show. The show was a success it was deemed to fit into the trends of the season well and highlight Long’s talents. Long returned his clothes to his Hackney studio. He returned early the next morning to collect some belongings all twelve outfits had been stolen. Sadly there was no CCTV, forensic evidence or witnesses to suggest what had happened. The morning of the theft James had a call from a Paris showroom asking him to display his collection. This event would have reached a new audience but of course he had to turn it down. Boutiques wanted to stock the collection. He wanted to get the clothes into production but factories work from samples which of course he could not supply. James’s first runway collection represented months of sweat equity and creativity culminating in a major commercial opportunity, destroyed in just one night by design thieves.

Advice for Design Protection

If you are a fashion designer and have created a collection which you believe has potential monetary value, vigilance and security is key. CCTV set up wherever you are housing your new collection would help. Don’t give your premises address out unless you have to, maybe use a PO Box address on any publicity. There are those out there who do not want to go through the expense of the creative process and seek the fast track to market, either through physical theft or stealing the design ideas by copying and free riding on the back of your designs. Similar problems are experienced by inventors and product designers.

  • Sign and date all design drawings (from the seed of an idea through to the finished product, including all inspirational ideas). It is also useful to photograph certain stages of designing (again, sign and date the photographs) to demonstrate the evolution of design through its creative process. KEEP THEM IN A SAFE PLACE. This provides compelling evidence, or a “design audit trail”. Under unregistered UK or EU design law it is necessary to provide dated evidence of design ownership if infringement occurs
  • Send copies of your designs to an independent third party. At ACID we hold thousands of copies of designs which are sent to us as soon as they are created. This provides not only dated evidence, but also safekeeping for your detailed drawings so that designs could be re-created if necessary
  • If you have created a series of designs that you feel are going to be really important to your business, register them at the UKIPO (United Kingdom Intellectual Property office) or obtain a Registered Community Design (RCD) OHIM (Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market). This provides a monopoly right and you don’t have to prove copying. You will have a piece of paper, a certificate, which says you “own” the design and you can therefore take legal action quickly and cost effectively
  • Whenever you are displaying your designs at an end of year design college show, catwalk, exhibition or sending information to potential retail buyers, communicate your anti copying policy and also mark this on your website and all promotional marketing material! “All intellectual property rights in our designs are and will remain the property of (insert your name). Any infringement will be taken seriously”. Basically if you don’t want people to copy you, say so!
  • Never send design drawings or samples without a confidentiality agreement or intellectual property agreement being signed. Never leave any sampling with potential retail buyers or manufacturers without an assurance that your IP rights are acknowledged and respected
  • Have a strict NO PHOTOGRAPHY POLICY. Unauthorised photography of your new designs is the fastest and easiest way for other’s to steal your ideas
  • As a creative – become “IP” intellectual property “savvy” – after all it’s your future!


The information provided in the above guidelines does not provide a complete statement of the present law and you should always take specialist advice in respect of your particular circumstances.

CHINESE DRIVE-AWAY? They’re even copying Ferraris!

In his keynote address, EU President Manuel Barroso reinforced the EU’s position on counterfeiting, piracy and intellectual property theft.

Mr. Barroso promised that counterfeiting would be ‘high on the agenda’ at a forthcoming summit to be held in Beijing where he will reaffirm the EU’s positionon tackling the darker side of product manufacturing - including safety and security and the involvement, in some cases, of child labour. There was a glimmer of hope when he described a ‘sea change’ with the registration of IP rights in China having risen by 800% during the past year where, as a result of economic success and development the Chinese are now rushing to protect their own rights. The irony of this cannot escape the rest of the world when recent statistics indicate that 80% of the world’s counterfeit, pirated or copied goods emanate from China. Let’s hope the tide is turning but, at the moment, there is still a huge gap between compliance and unlawful manufacturing practices.

At a summit involving influencers from the Global IP landscape held in Brussels organised by The Authentics Foundation, there was a frighteningly realistic and impressive display of knock off products from an iconic fake Ferrari to mobile phone batteries which explode, from fake Vodka (where you don’t wake up from the hangover) to fake condoms. The consequences of their unlawful sale and often, unknown purchase, have dire results. In a hard-hitting message that fakes cost lives amidst reports of car parts made of saw dust, medicines which have killed over 200,000, fake bags and catwalk copies, many of which are being produced by children, 1000′s of infant deaths through fake baby formulae the drums started to roll for those that perpetrate copying.

No products escape the grasp of counterfeiters and the problem is increasing at an epidemic rate. The bottom line is that IP theft can costs lives and livelihoods and may threaten our global security if we look at the increasing evidence between counterfeiters, organised crime and terrorism. Despite efforts to improve custodial sentences, IP theft is still a soft crime though there are clear signals that the lobbying groups are at last getting their messages heard.

‘Global warming campaigners have succeeded in raising world awareness about the catastrophic affects to the planet if nothing is done. The world is taking notice.’ said Dids Macdonald ACID’s CEO, a delegate at the event, ‘In the 2008 Olympics, two thirds of the world’s attention will be focused on China, which has one of the world’s worst records on intellectual property theft. Within 4 years two thirds of the world’s population will focus on London’s Olympics and the UK, one of Europe’s many victims of IP crime. The irony cannot escape IP owners and stakeholders. London has initiated a campaign for a FAKE FREE OLYMPICS, which it hopes will have a long lasting legacy. It is time to galvanize world leaders with European Union backing to support the UK’s opportunity on behalf of the world to paint the real pictures behind IP theft.’

Whilst much of the blame can be laid at China’s door, we also have to look in our back yard at those who are creating the demand. In the case of ACID members whose products are copied, the culprits can be found often within retail buying who are fuelling illegal copying by free riding on the back of others’ intellectual property. By instructing alternative Chinese manufacturers to produce look alikes (where there is no IP ownership or licence to market) some retailers who adopt this strategy, not only seek a fast track to market without their own design, research and development costs but they also run the increasing risk of legal challenge. Designers and manufacturers are, thankfully, becoming much more IP savvy as a result of raised awareness within the industry.

The 2012 procurement groups, of the Olympic Games ODA and LOCOG, have also promised a UK supply only for goods and services. ACID will soon be putting an IP support package together for those who wishing to respond to the 75,000+ supply chain opportunities and there is an excellent business development tool available on the London 2010 website.

dixon.jpgACID welcomes the announcement of the appointment of Joly Dixon as the new Chair for the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property (SAHIB). Joly Dixon spent most of his professional career in the European Commission where he was Jacques Delors’ economic advisor and later Director for international economic affairs.

Commenting on the announcement Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO said, ‘This is a great couple of weeks for the creative industries, first the DCMS 26 point strategy for ‘Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy’ and now to have a highly respected economist leading the SABIP Board. 2 million people are employed in creative jobs and the sector contributes £60 billion a year - 7.3 per cent - to the British economy. Let’s hope that economist Joly Dixon can bring his skills, expertise and leadership to influence an independent strategic review of policy to effectively advise Government in truly protecting and encouraging a significant contributor to the UK’s intellectual capital - the creative industries’.

There was a ripple of excitement amongst the design community last week with the announcement, by Culture Secretary Andy Burnham, of a 26 commitment strategy for Government and industry across every stage of the creative process to support ‘Creative Britain: New Talents for the New Economy’. Andy Burnham said, ‘Our vision is of a Britain in 10 years time where the local economies in our biggest cities are driven by creativity. That’s why we need a clear action plan for both Government and industry to keep our competitive edge. We want to take raw talent, nurture it and give people the best possible chance of building a successful business’.

Professor Jimmy Choo OBE said, ‘Having worked in London for over 20 years, it is good to see that the Creative Economy Programme will support and develop this vibrant industry even further to maximise the potential for British fashion in the international arena.’

Wayne Hemingway MBE, HemingwayDesign said,

”Until recently the creative industries were seen as a bit of a Cinderella part of the economy, but things have now changed, as they should. We’re second only to the service sector in our contribution to the economy and its good news that the Government now recognises our importance. British design and creative community is known throughout the world for its unique approach, so it’s really important that we encourage our young talent to join the industry and carry it on into the future.’

According to the DCMS, 2 million people are employed in creative jobs and the sector contributes £60 billion a year - 7.3 per cent to the British economy. Over the past decade, the creative sector has grown at twice the rate of the economy and is well placed for continued growth as demand for creative content grows. A recent Design Council statistic revealed that over 10 years those who have a sound design strategy outperformed the Footsie 100 by 200%.

Dids Macdonald, ACID’s CEO said, ‘I welcome this move for design and innovation in all sectors to move from the margins to the mainstream of economic and policy thinking. Positioning the valuable input of the creative industries to the UK’s fiscal fitness is a key area of importance and is well over due. The new strategy will influence the young, aiming to give all children a creative education. It will encourage the recognition of creative talent and support the metamorphosis of talent in to jobs. Government promises a real surge in supporting research and innovation to help creative businesses grow and find access to finance to fund growth. By improving IP enforcement and improving IP awareness, Government believes that this will foster and protect intellectual property and by bringing coherence to public investment in local creative economies and developing infrastructure this will support creative clusters. At long last there is acknowledgement of the UK as an established originator of the world’s creative economy and there would appear to be a real will and momentum to promote Britain as the world’s creative hub’.

The Minister for Intellectual Property, Baroness Morgan of Drefelin said, ‘The Government is committed to safeguarding the intellectual property rights of those who make a living from their creativity, ensuring the long term economic viability of our creative enterprises’.

ACID has campaigned long and hard on behalf of product designers and manufacturers to be afforded the same privileges as other rights holders it’s time now to see design included in an IP crime enforcement strategy.

Image showing computer and CD

Following, hot on the heels of the forward thinking French (with regard to intellectual property), the latest move by Government is a severe warning that legal sanctions will apply to ISP providers from April 2009 unless they take a firm stance to curtail the illegal downloading of films and music.

Andy Burnham, Culture Secretary, told Jean Eaglesham, Chief Correspondent of the Financial Times on Thursday that the deadline was a “clear signal” of the government’s determination to tackle rampant piracy, which the music and film industries blame for the slump in CD and DVD sales. “Let me make it absolutely clear: this is a change of tone from the government,” Mr Burnham said. “It’s definitely serious legislative intent.”

This would appear to fall in line with moves by Government following the Gowers Report on intellectual property published in December 2006 to create a more robust anti copying strategy to support the creative industries. This is something which, on behalf of designers, ACID has been lobbying for years. ACID comment, “Whilst it is encouraging to address the problems faced by music and film IP owners, there is still very little awareness and political will to deal with product design infringement which attracts no criminal sanctions and is still very much the underdog in Government attention. Precisely how this will be implemented remains to be seen and if, according to Mr Burnham, “There is no burning desire to legislate” it will be interesting to see what pressure can be put on ISP providers to change the culture that it is considered perfectly OK to continue to download music and films. If this can be achieved without legislation then the method could provide a blueprint for other creative industry sectors such as design. ACID remains optimistic!

Pat Dawson of ACID member Creative Tops discovered that Peter Hunt, Katy Hackney, and their new company, GeOlivia, were displaying product catalogues at the recent Ambiente fair which had been produced using Creative Tops own CAD (Computer aided design) shapes. Creative Tops also learnt that their customers had been contacted with offers to undercut their prices. Following a call to Mark Heritage of Hammonds Manchester IP department via the ACID legal hotline, Mark immediately called Hosea Haag of Hammonds Munich IP department. As the fair continued over the weekend, Hosea worked with Creative Tops to gather further information and instructions and to write and finalise required court briefs and affidavits. Creative Tops issued an oral warning to Peter Hunt and asked that he sign cease and desist undertakings. He refused to do so and Creative Tops instructed Hammonds to take court action. Hosea Haag obtained a preliminary injunction from the Frankfurt court, ordering GeOlivia, Peter Hunt and Katy Hackney not to distribute and display their catalogue in Germany as long as it contained pictures based on certain CAD shapes.

The preliminary injunction was issued on the basis of Hosea’s brief – none of GeOlivia, Peter Hunt or Katy Hackney were heard, nor did they submit any written statements to the Court. While the preliminary injunction is not a final decision under German law, it was served at the fair on Tuesday 12 February. Mark Heritage of Hammonds said, ‘As far as we are aware, the preliminary injunction stopped infringing activity at the fair. Creative Tops also received an apology’.

ACID CEO Dids Macdonald said, ‘One of the benefits of having ACID Accredited Lawyers like Hammonds with a global signature is the ease with which ACID members can take action in other countries. Coupled with much easier access to the judicial system in Germany, this really does mean that ACID members can rely on total support should they require it’.

Pat Dawson, Creative Tops MD said, ‘I was really surprised and delighted that Hosea Haag was prepared to work with me over the weekend to help us achieve our objectives. I think our action delivers a very clear message to all within our sector about our anti copying IP strategy’.

Brand expansion – Is franchising for you, either as a franchisor or a franchisee?

At the Future Trends Seminar Forum at Spring Fair, NEC earlier this month, ACID explored the world of franchising with leading UK experts, Tim Bowyer, Director of Franchising, The Royal Bank of Scotland, Tom Bridgford Head of International Franchising and Patricia Jones, Head of IP at Hammonds, one of ACID’s Accredited law Firms.

So how does franchising fit in to your business model and is it right for your company?

Franchising allows a business with a successful product or service (the franchisor) to let other businesses (franchisees) operate under their brand in return for payment (royalty). Look at Macdonald’s - a classic example of taking a successful product, in this case the sale of hamburgers, sitting under a successful and distinctive brand. By using intellectual property (trade marks, copyright and know how), together with guidance and training this has allowed many franchisees, who pay a fee, to grow the business for Macdonald’s into a world-class example. Whether you like Macdonald’s hamburgers or not you have to agree that the business recipe has been a success!

The right franchisee is usually highly motivated and can bring new ideas and energy to the business relationship. They will invest their time in developing your brand and will take most of the risk. Because of their investment into the franchising relationship they will be committed to making it work and developing your brand.

To consider becoming a franchisor, key components of an agreement include a precise description of ‘The system’, i.e. exactly what is being licensed. Consideration should be given to the scope of the license i.e. what kind of outlets - which territories - via the internet - and whether this is an exclusive arrangement. Quality control and a comprehensive operations manual are key to any successful franchising operation, together with clear rights of termination i.e. how to end the relationship if it doesn’t work. Other vital considerations include how the fees and payment terms are managed and where funding will come from to develop a franchising strategy for brand expansion.

An enthusiastic Tom Bridgford of Hammonds explained to delegates, “Our franchising clients have experienced strong growth in recent years…one client has grown from nothing to 45 franchisees around the world in less that five years – a phenomenal success story”


Tom Bridgford, Dids Macdonald and Patricia Jones

Patricia Jones outlined the importance of intellectual property protection and summarised by saying ‘To the outside world, the franchisee and the franchisor are the same in that the franchisee uses the franchisor?s intellectual property i.e. know-how, brand and/or designs. By getting your IP house in order (with registered trade marks and registered community designs) you ‘own’ your brand or product and, therefore, have control about how it can be used, by whom and who takes responsibility if those rights are infringed. Successful franchises naturally suffer from copying but with registered rights it is much easier to pursue any infringements and there is also the potential, through registration, of indefinite exclusivity’.

Patricia used several examples of franchisors whose strength lies in trade mark and design registration including Bang and Olufsen whose brand strength lies in its cutting edge design integrity and precision engineering and technology.


With a wealth of well known franchise systems relationships under its belt, including McDonald’s, Toni & Guy, Kall Kwik, Spar, Vision Express to name a few, RBS’s (Royal Bank of Scotland) Director of Franchising Tim Bowyer outlined the reality of following a franchising route - ‘Franchising is no quick fix for brand expansion but with help from experts who have a track record in successful franchise operations, there is every chance of real success’. Key to the RBS’s role in this sector is knowledge and established relationships with franchisors and professionals within the industry, ‘We also have a national franchise team dedicated to helping franchisors and franchisees. This capability backed by bundled funding, credit ‘intelligence’ and corporate and commercial structured finance on leverage transactions can provide a comprehensive menu of support offering the right options. RBS are also experienced in the assessment and feasibility underpinned by credit assessment, sector information, training and financial analysis’.


Tim Bowyer

Following the successful seminar and positive feedback, the ACID team has decided to run this seminar again. Any interested parties should contact Jane Stephenson, ACID’s Membership Development Manager janes@acid.uk.com or telephone 0845 644 3617.

Tim Bowyer, Director of Franchising, Royal Bank of Scotland
Tom Bridgford, Partner, Head of Franchising Group, ACID Accredited Law Firm, Hammonds Tom.Bridgford@hammonds.com
Patricia Jones PhD, Partner specialising in contentious and non-contentious Intellectual Property, ACID Accredited Law Firm, Hammonds

Over 100 delegates representing all aspects of the contract furnishing industry across the UK gathered in London on 3 March to consider the implications and business opportunities presented by the coming London 2012 Olympics

Held at the imposing BERR Conference Centre on London’s Victoria Street, the seminar was hosted by the British Contract Furnishing & Design Association (BCFA) in partnership with Business Link Kent, and carried endorsement by the BFC, FIRA, OFAS, BIDA and ACID.


In addition to providing practical advice on the exacting requirements and timescales involved in qualifying to tender, the seminar also addressed key issues like innovation, design and the post-2012 legacy. ‘I realise that 2012 seems like a lifetime away,’ explained BCFA Managing Director Colin Watson, who chaired the seminar. ‘but, in a design-led sector such as ours, we must continue to adopt the long-term view. It is essential that we encourage our members – and indeed the industry at large – to maximise business opportunities during the run-up to the London Games.’

Opening the formal presentations was Mary Nicholls, Nations and Regions Coordinator with the London Development Agency, who gave an overview of the general principal of the Games and the need to leave a lasting legacy and a positive sporting ethos. Derek Wilson, Head of Design & Overlay with the London Organising Committee for the Olympic & Paralympic Games (LOCOG), then spoke on the Olympic heritage, giving delegates a preview of some preliminary plans whilst stressing the importance of this unique opportunity to demonstrate British design creativity and innovation to the rest of the world.

Next to the platform was David McKay, Head of Procurement with Bovis Lend Lease, who talked about the huge scale of the project, particularly in terms of the materials required. David also highlighted the post-2012 legacy of the building work, giving delegates an insight into the plan to convert the Olympic Village into real homes with a school, health centre, hotel and shopping centre. Finally came Kevin Ma, Marketing & Business Engagement Manager with the London Business Network, who took delegates through the CompeteFor web site. His valuable explanation showed how the site works for suppliers and buyers alike and emphasised the need for early registration in order to access the stream of updates on bidding opportunities.

After a lively panel discussion, the BCFA’s Colin Watson closed the seminar by reiterating the scale of the task ahead for those organising and delivering the Games. ‘They are part of a huge team opening up an opportunity which really will come only once in a lifetime,’ he stressed. ‘and they need the support of our industry – our creativity, our experience and our ability to deliver. London 2012 is a world showcase and one in which everyone can participate.’

The BCFA has now opened a helpdesk to answer queries relating to 2012 preparations. Contact Peter Smith at the BCFA on 01494 896790, e-mail enquiries@bcfa.org.uk or visit www.thebcfa.com


The panel at the recent BCFA-hosted seminar on the opportunities presented by the London Olympics for the UK contract furnishing sector comprised (l to r) David McKay of Bovis Lend Lease, Derek Wilson of LOCOG, Paul Tobin of Business Link, Mary Nicholls of LDA and Kevin Ma of London Business Network.

Judging by the sheer number of queries ACID dealt with at the one to one IP design clinics running throughout the show there is clearly a need to provide as much legal, practical and commercial education and advice as possible. Several exhibitors took advantage of ACID’s on the spot ‘Mediate to Resolve’ service with alleged copying complaints. These were dealt with quickly and no further legal action was required, proving, yet again, the effective use of mediation as a real alternative to litigation.

A quick reality check underlined that copying is unfortunately alive and well, but businesses need to establish what Intellectual Property rights they actually have before they can take any action and should always take advice from a specialist in the area before they do so. Jo Crouch of supporting ACID Accredited Law Firm DMH Stallard sets out a quick guide below on some of the rights and issues of which businesses need to be aware. IP law is complex and the following is not intended to be an exhaustive description of the rights. In each case where a question of copying arises individual legal advice should be sought. In particular, there are certain conditions of subsistence which apply to each of the rights and special rules apply to designs which have been commissioned or licensed.

UK Unregistered Design rights

No need to register, as the name suggests! However, the design must be original and it must be recorded in an original signed and dated design document. This right usually lasts for ten years from the first marketing date of articles made to the design. ACID members may send copies of their signed and dated drawings to the free ACID Design Data Bank. 3-dimensional features of the design of industrial articles are also protected, whether aesthetic or functional. However, rights holders should note that surface design is excluded from the scope of this right. Take, for example, a handle on an umbrella. The handle can be protected by unregistered design rights provided that the design is original and not already commonplace. However, any surface decoration on the handle would not be protected by the UK Unregistered Design right. A rights holder must also show copying has taken place in order to prove an infringement.

Community Unregistered Designs

Again no need to register! Limited protection for designs is also available throughout the European Union under the Community Unregistered Design right and lasts for only 3 years. In order to gain protection, a design must fulfil the test for absolute novelty and have individual character. Unregistered Community Design right comes into existence automatically when a design is first made available to the public within the EU. A rights holder must prove copying in order to succeed in an infringement claim and the right lasts for only three years from the date when it first became available in the EU.

Therefore, whilst it is a useful right, especially for the protection of designs with a limited life span in the market place, it is worth considering registered rights for products with longer shelf-lives as these rights provide much stronger and longer-lasting protection.

Registered Designs and Community Design Rights

Registered design rights protect the appearance of items such as, for example, jewellery, clothing or furniture, in so far as they meet the tests set out below. As the name suggests these rights require registration with an official body namely the Designs Registry at the UKIPO for UK Registered Designs and OHIM (the Office for Harmonization in the Internal Market) for Community Design rights in order to come into existence. www.ipo.gov.uk www.oami.europa.eu

To be considered for registration designs require absolute novelty and individual character. In essence, a design will be considered a ?new design? if no identical design (or no design whose features differ only in immaterial details) have been made available to the public before the relevant date. The element relating to ‘individual character’ will be satisfied if the overall impression it produces on the informed user differs from the overall impression produced on such a user by any design which has previously been made available to the public. The Registered Design lasts for a maximum of 25 years from the date of the application to register.


Copyright protects original literary, dramatic, musical or artistic works. The author must have created the work through their own skill, judgment and individual effort, and not have copied it from other works. Copyright does not require registration in this jurisdiction but will only subsist if the work is recorded, in writing or otherwise.

Copyright lasts for a set period, most often the life of the author plus 70 years from the end of the calendar year of their death. No formalities need to be observed in the UK for a work to receive copyright protection. The primary purpose of copyright law is to reward authors for the creation of original works, that is, works where the author has expended independent effort to create the work. It is very important to appreciate that copyright law is intended to prevent copying but does not provide a monopoly. A similar or identical work may already be in existence but copyright may not be infringed if this has not been copied. By contrast, a registered design creates a monopoly and it is immaterial whether or not it has been copied in determining whether infringement has occurred.

Practical Advice

To ensure that IP rights are fully protected:

  • designers should sign and date all of their documents.
  • keep records of the design document and the design process with the date of the first marketing of the articles, which is often referred to as the ‘Design Audit Trail’. (This is invaluable evidence in any subsequent legal action).
  • If you don’t want to be copied, – say so! and there is no better way than by using the ACID logo on websites, marketing material, design drawings, product labelling etc.

Members can take advantage of the ACID Design Data Bank which they are entitled to use free of charge throughout their membership. Call the ACID helpline for further information 0845 644 3617. The ACID Design Data Bank Officer, Sheila Carter, will file and save these designs in the Data Bank in order that ACID, as an independent impartial body, can verify the date on which the design was first made known.

It is vital for businesses to appreciate that the ACID Design Data Bank is not the same as registering your rights legally, but merely provides a helpful service for members to ensure that safe copies of their designs are stored and dated independently.

Groundless Threats

Individuals must be very careful when approaching potential infringers (as one might be tempted to do at an exhibition) and asserting their rights prior to obtaining legal advice. Certain provisions in the law relating to ‘groundless threats’ mean that any person who threatens another with proceedings for certain IP infringement could face action being brought against them if they cannot prove that the rights that they are asserting are valid and owned by them or the action they are taking does not fall within one of the exceptions. Objectively, a threat is made if what is communicated is understood by the ordinary recipient as being a threat of infringement proceedings. However, mere notification that an IP right exists or is registered does not amount to a threat of proceedings. It is usually difficult for the lay-person to make that distinction without taking specialist legal advice.


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