Other people's rights
- "Searching" - How can I know whether or not someone else has already registered my idea, design or trade mark (searching)?
Before investing resources in marketing a product or developing a brand, it is important to check whether anyone else has already registered the concept, design or trade mark. If someone has, you could be infringing their rights by proceeding and should they take action against you, this could be both extremely costly and inconvenient. See also What will happen if I make a product or use a trade mark that has already been registered by others?
Quite often, there are relatively simple ways of avoiding infringement, particularly when it comes to patents and designs, and early advice may be the difference between success and failure.
The best way to check is to have us conduct a search of the relevant international databases and records (some of which can be accessed by subscription or attendance only), to see whether there are any publications which describe or show your invention or design; or trade marks similar to your mark. Searching requires not only finding relevant documents or marks but also the analysis of those documents/marks to determine whether or not they might pose any difficulties.
For patents you can conduct your own preliminary searching on the internet to see if you might be stepping on anyone else's toes. If you find documents that look close to, but are not the same as your invention or mark, contact us and we will determine whether or not they will prevent you from proceeding. Some documents may appear from the drawings to cover a product different to yours, but in fact are broadly worded and could still cause you difficulties. Similarly, documents that look very close to your invention might be possible to work around. If you find no relevant documents, it would be wise to ask us to conduct a confirmatory search for you as we have access to databases you probably don't have access to and we are also very experienced in patent searching, which is not a particularly easy task.
- Contact us to have a search conducted or to get advice on the results of your own search.
- What will happen if I make a product or use a trade mark that has already been registered by someone else?
If you make a product or use a trade mark registered by others, the best that could happen is nothing; the worst that could happen is that you could be sued and required to pay significant damages, court costs and legal fees along with being required to destroy all your products and shut down your business.
The best way to avoid a conflict is to have a search of the relevant international databases conducted before launching your product/trade mark. See our section on searching.
However, often the first you know about someone else's rights is when you receive a letter or a writ from the owner of those rights. If this happens, do not immediately agree to any statements or conditions in the letter or writ. Contact us first. It may be that you are not infringing any rights and the other side are just seeing what they might be able to get out of you. Alternatively, there may be ways of dealing with the situation (to your advantage) that have not been offered to you by the other side.
- Contact us if you are worried about infringing someone else's rights