We are well recognised, local and reputable trademark & patent solicitor firm located close to Cheshire. We have handled thousands of cases and have given 100% unique and tailored advice to every one of our clients. We are personable, professional and have a team that will always be in your corner.
JMR Solicitors LLP was recognised by the Prime Minister, David Cameron himself, as the number 1 female led fastest growing business in the UK in 2015. This wasn’t done by accident, it comes our unique approach and belief that our clients are our most valuable assets; and we operate an open culture and a team based approach that reflects this.
At JMR Solicitors we understand how important your intellectual property is to your business. We will deal with all aspects of trademarks over a large range of sectors, including but not limited to:
- Media & Entertainment
- Public sector
- And many more
We have experience working with companies large and small, start-up businesses and individuals and you can be assured that the work carried out on your behalf will be done to the same high standard no matter the size of your business.
WHAT IS INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY?
Intellectual property is something that you have uniquely created, in the physical sense. An idea in and of itself does not classify as intellectual property. For example, the idea for a book does not count as intellectual property but the words that you write does count.
You automatically own intellectual property if:
- You created it, and it meets the requirements for copyright, a patent or a design
- You have bought the intellectual property rights from the previous owner or the creator
- You have a brand that could be a trade mark
- You will not usually own the intellectual property for something that you create as part of your work for your employer.
Intellectual property can be owned by a person or a business, and can have more than one owner. It can also be bought, sold or transferred to new owners.
Copyright protects creative works such as literature, art, film, photography, music, web content and sound recordings. The creator of the work automatically holds the copyright to their creation and so will have total control over how the work is used. This right is enforceable up until the copyright period ends, after which the work will become part of the public domain and anyone may use it.
Copyright is used to support creative production and as a way to make sure that creators receive their fair rewards for the work that they do. If a piece of work is used without the copyright owner’s permission or in a way that has not been allowed, legal action can be taken. The creator of a work can mark their work with the copyright symbol (©), their name and the year that it was created. Whether or not the work is marked does not affect the level of protection that it has.
What does copyright protect against?
Copyright protects against:
- Copying the work
- Distribution of copies, either free or for sale
- Lending or renting of copies
- Playing, performing or showing of the work in public
- Making adaptations of the work
- Putting the work on the internet
- Overseas copyright
International agreements are in place to protect work overseas, such as the Berne Convention. Most countries will have copyright protection which lasts a minimum of 50 years for written, artistic and dramatic work and at least 25 years for photographs. Other types of work can vary, so it is best to check with what types of protection exists for specific works.
Protecting copyrighted work
The creator of the copyrighted work is responsible for defending the work against unauthorised use. Some organisations or people may have the right to use copyright work without the permission of the creator, such as schools and libraries. If you have reason to believe that someone is using your work without your permission, it is always best to check whether they are authorised to use it before taking any action against them or trying to stop them from using it.
Most organisations or individuals must apply for a certain type of license before they may use a work that is covered by copyright, but they don’t know who holds the rights. As it is up to the creator to enforce their rights, it is advisable to check the licences register (which can be found here) to see if anyone has licences, or is in the process of applying to license a work. If a work that belongs to you is found on this register, you can apply to have the application stopped or claim any license fee that has been paid.
If a dispute arises from copyright claims, JMR Solicitors can advise on the best course of action to help you to protect your work. Some disputes can be decided by the Copyright Tribunal.
Registering a trademark will allow you to protect logos, words and sounds for your business, providing that they distinguish your business from any others in the market. Having your brand registered as a trademark will help to protect the reputation of your brand and business throughout the UK, EU and even internationally.
Trademark registration is a long and complex process, with many opportunities for setbacks and uncertainty so it is vital to get the help and advice of a knowledgeable intellectual property solicitor from the outset.
The benefits of registering a trademark
With a registered trademark, your business will be able to take legal action against any individual or company who uses your brand without your permission. This is extended to counterfeiters who copy and distribute your brand. You will also be entitled to place the ® symbol next to your brand to warn against others using it.
Is my trademark eligible to be registered?
Conducting the necessary searches and registering a trademark is a complex task. Your trademark must be unique to your business and can include:
or a combination of any of the above
A trademark cannot:
- Be offensive, contain swear words or pornographic images
- Describe the services or goods eg the word ‘egg’ cannot be a trademark for an egg company
- Be misleading, eg using the word ‘handmade’ for products that are not handmade
- Be a 3-D shape that is associated with the trademark, eg using the shape of an egg for an egg company
- Be a common and vague, or a too simple statement such as ‘we lead the way’
- Look too similar to any state symbols, e.g. flags or hallmarks. Guidelines for this can be found on World
- Intellectual Property Organisation guidelines
- Checking to see if a trademark is already registered
The trademark database contains all registered trademarks and must be searched before an application is submitted. The database can be found here. The holder of an existing trademark can give permission to register your trademark if it is too similar. The holder must give a letter of consent, which must be submitted with the application.
Renewing a trademark
Trademarks must be renewed every 10 years and applications can be submitted six months before and six months after the trademark expires. If a trademark has been expired for longer than six months, you may be able to restore it.
To protect a design from being copied, the creator will automatically have a ‘design right’ which will protect the design for either 10 years after it was first sold, or 15 years after it was created, whichever came first.
A design is taken to mean ‘The appearance of the whole or a part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture and/or materials of the product itself and/or its ornamentation’.
By registering a design, you will be better protecting it from being copied, reproduced or distributed without your permission. To register a design it must comply with the regulations, including:
- The design must be new
- Must not be offensive, or graphic in detail
- Must not use protected emblems or flags
- Must not be an invention (for inventions, please see our patents page here)
You may submit up to seven illustrations with your application and these may be drawings, photographs or prints that show what you want to register.
These illustrations should:
- Show the design exactly as it appears.
- Be either photographs, line drawings, computer-aided design or rendered.
- Show the design against a plain background.
- No details should be hidden by shadow or reflections
- All relevant views of the design must be shown, for example front or back view
- It must not contain measurements or other technical information
- No other objects, or your hand, should be shown
- If the application is being submitted by post, the illustrations should be on plain A4 paper.
After the application
The Intellectual Property Office will examine the application and respond within one month of submission. If no objections are raised, the design will be registered immediately unless you wish to defer it. If objections are raised, there is a two month period for a response. A hearing can be requested if you think the application has been dealt with unfairly or if you disagree with the decision.
Patents are used to protect inventions and give the creator the right to take legal action against anyone who uses, makes, sells or imports the invention without your permission. Before a patent is granted, you must prove that the invention is something that can be made or used, is new and is inventive. This means that the invention must not be simply a slight modification of something that already exists.
Patents are usually very difficult to have granted, therefore it is vital that professional advice is sought before any attempts at applying for one are made.
What cannot be patented?
The following is a list of things that cannot be granted a patent:
- Artistic, dramatic, literary or musical work
- A way of thinking, doing business or playing a game
- A method of medical treatment or diagnosis
- A scientific theory, mathematical method or a discovery
- New seeds, animals or types of plant
- The way that information is presented
- Some computer programs
- Before an application
Patents are the most difficult form of intellectual property protection to apply for. It is advised that you discuss whether applying for a patent is appropriate for your business before you proceed. A patent should only be applied for if the invention is new (and you have searched for similar published patents) and if you have the time and funds to make the application. The application process is long and can take upwards of 5 years to complete. It is also expensive, meaning that with professional assistance the application can cost upwards of £4,000. The process is also extremely complex in nature, meaning that an only 1 in 20 applications that are submitted without professional assistance are accepted and are granted a patent.