A leading law firm is launching a new advisory service which will include expert tips for tech entrepreneurs. In their Ask The Expert series, Harper James will aim to answer the questions many growing companies need solutions for.
The first area which Harper James has focused on are claims businesses receive which relate to intellectual property. Receiving a letter suggesting you’ve infringed on IP can be both stressful and time-consuming. Yet for many businesses the reality is this is something you will have to deal with.
Lindsay Gledhill, an intellectual property partner at Harper James, says businesses who find themselves in this position should take three steps: pause, stay calm and get expert advice.
“A well-crafted copyright infringement letter will contain traps for the unwary,” she says. “We know these traps because we set them too. That’s why it is important for business not to fall into them but to instead ensure they speak to an IP litigator before you replying.”
In a further bid to support businesses navigating these copyright claims, Harper James has produced a guide as part of its new Ask The Expert series. The guide sets out the approach businesses should take if and when they are faced with a letter claiming copyright breach. It encourages owners to “not panic and remember it happens to most businesses at some point”. And it urges them not to reply to an infringement claim letter without first speaking to an IP solicitor.
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Where a business may feel compelled to remove material that is being complained of straight away, the report advises owners to take records first. The report adds that any screenshots must be formatted so solicitors can prove their date.
The Harper James advisory dossier also summarises the key question any IP complaint will consider. These may include:
- Ethically, is the complaint fair, manufactured, or somewhere in between?
- Are all the legal hurdles for copyright infringement addressed? Accurately?
- Have they supplied evidence? Would it stand up in court?
- Can we see some procedural hurdles to put in their way?
- Which of our hundreds of previous cases does this most closely resemble?
- Realistically, what would the IP judges we appear before make of this?
And the report lays bare what accusers who take a copyright case all the way to court, will need to prove. Among the considerations will be:
- Whether there’s material that qualifies as an identified ‘copyright work’
- If you have done something in relation to that copyright work
- What you did is connected to the target jurisdiction
- What you did amounts to an act of infringement – deliberate or not
- They are the people entitled to a remedy
- (If they want an injunction) you intend to continue doing what they complained of
Using creative works such as a logo, photo, image or text without permission could infringe copyright. That is why it’s so vital all businesses fully understand how to legally use copyrighted material. Yet even businesses who believe they have complied with the law could still find a letter dropping on their doormat or an email landing in their inbox claiming infringement.