Patents are aimed at protecting technical innovations, including new products, devices, computer programs, manufacturing methods and processes, chemical and biotech innovations. It’s the technical advance which is important, your innovation should operate or perform differently to what’s gone before. If the innovation is purely aesthetic, or intangible such as an idea, then patent protection may not be available. For a patent to be awarded, the innovation must also be both novel and “inventive” (i.e. not obvious) over all earlier public disclosures.
Patents are perhaps best known for providing a strong form of protection, enabling you to take action against third parties who manufacture, use or sell infringing products or processes, but they can do much more than this. Patents are items of property, and can be sold, assigned, licensed or mortgaged, adding value to your business. They can be a marketing tool, or used to create confusion amongst your competitors in the marketplace. Recently, they have also become popular as a way of reducing corporation tax, through the “Patent Box” scheme.
As yet, there’s no such thing as a worldwide, or even a single European patent (though this is expected within the next couple of years), but patent protection can be obtained in most countries through a number of routes. For most UK-based companies, a first filing in the UK at the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) is useful, taking advantage of the low official fees and receiving an early indication of the chances of success, before taking action to extend protection overseas within 12 months of that first filing.
Obtaining a patent – especially a useful patent – can be difficult, and there are many “traps” to watch out for. In particular, disclosure of an invention before filing, or filing an inadequate application, will likely cause problems. It is therefore absolutely essential to plan for patent filing before your invention is disclosed, whether by advertising, sales or public testing.
How we can help
Page Hargrave are Chartered Patent Attorneys (sometimes called “patent agents” or “patent lawyers”) and experts at handling all aspects of patent prosecution from providing you with initial advice, idea harvesting, drafting and filing your application, through the subsequent stages of search and examination, preparing responses to Office Actions and taking the application through to grant. We are pro-active but approachable, flexible but committed.
We are unusual in having attorneys with UKIPO examination experience, who can advise and carry out patent searches in-house where appropriate. We have specialists in many areas of technology, including software, telecommunications, semiconductors, chemistry, mechanical devices … We also conduct international (PCT) national and regional phase entry, and work closely with our overseas associates to provide a full global service.
Once granted, our robust renewals service can take care of maintenance securely and cost-effectively. As European Patent Attorneys, we are also experienced in preparing and defending EPO oppositions and third-party observations.
If you have a problem with infringement, we can advise you fully, provide opinions on alleged infringements, and act for you in disputes. We can represent you in mediation or arbitration proceedings.
• Patent searching expertise
• Reliable and cost-effective renewal service
• Providing global protection
• Flexible and competitive
• Fixed-fee schedules available
• Electrical, chemical and mechanical areas
• Experts in software and communications
Protecting your brand is essential for any business. Trade mark registration can protect your logos, brand names, slogans and websites forever – trade mark No. 1, the Bass triangle, was registered in 1876 and is still in force today! Before registering, it is essential to plan carefully and choose your marks, and how they will be used. It is advisable to check carefully for potentially conflicting marks which could prevent your marks’ successful registration, or even prevent you from using the marks for your own business.
How we can help
As registered Trade Mark attorneys (not the same as “trade mark agents”!) Page Hargrave can assist in all aspects of the trade mark registration process, including performing initial searches and advising on selection of marks, filing and prosecuting applications, to portfolio management, maintenance, policing and enforcement.
We are able to act before the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) and we can file applications in other countries throughout the world through our network of trusted associates, and using the well-established Madrid Protocol where appropriate.
• Trade mark searching and watching
• Filing and prosecuting applications before UKIPO and EUIPO
• Filing and prosecuting international applications via the Madrid Protocol
• Filing cancellation actions against UK or EU trade mark registrations
• Filing oppositions against UK or EU trade mark applications
• Fixed-fee schedules available
• Advising on infringement / counterfeiting in the UK and Europe
• Assignments, licences and other registrable transactions
• Robust and cost-effective renewals service
• Handling passing-off or domain name disputes
• Advice on and protection of designs
In a world where the design of a product can play a significant part in its success, the protection of designs has never been more relevant. It is not only high fashion products or the creative industries that can benefit from design protection, but also industrial products and components.
The design, i.e. the visual appearance of an article, which could be dictated by its shape or surface decoration, may be protected in various ways. For example, it is possible that an unregistered design right may subsist automatically, similarly to copyright, and this can be a useful tool. However, design right has significant drawbacks in that the period of protection is relatively short (up to 15 years), and it only offers protection against actual copying of your design. A more robust, and potentially longer lasting (up to 25 years), form of protection which also protects against independently created designs of similar appearance, is to register your design.
Design registration is a powerful tool. The costs are relatively low, and the chances of successful registration are high. Recently, criminal sanctions have been introduced for intentional copying of a registered design. For such reasons, design registration is becoming ever more popular.
For a design to be protected by way of registration, it must be both new and have “individual character”. Traditionally, design registration has been used to protect products where it is the appearance, rather than any technical features, which is important – for example running shoes, jewellery, furniture etc. Technical or industrial products may also be protected, such as mobile phones, vacuum cleaners – the list is endless! Of course, technical features may be protectable in other ways, such as by patenting, and having a patent does not preclude also having a registered design. With the increase in its popularity, design registration is now being used in other ways. For example, registration is increasingly being used as a convenient way to protect visual branding components, including logos, typography, GUIs or website appearance.
Since the design must be new to be validly registered, it is essential to consider registration at an early stage in the development process. While there is a grace period permitting non-prejudicial disclosure up to 12 months prior to registration, ideally this should not be relied upon, particularly if you intend to obtain subsequent protection for your design overseas.
How we can help
Page Hargrave can take care of the whole design registration process to cover the UK, Europe or further afield, maximising your protection with the minimum of fuss, then renewing your registrations for your peace of mind. We can advise on validity and represent you in disputes. We can also fully advise you on subsistence and enforcement of unregistered design rights.
• UK registered design applications
• European Community registered design applications
• Cost-effective and reliable renewals service
• Infringement advice and enforcement
Copyright is a property right which provides protection against unauthorised copying of the whole or a substantial part of original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic works; sound recordings, films, broadcasts and cable programs and the typographical arrangement of published editions. Perhaps surprisingly, computer programs can be considered to be literary works, and so may also give rise to copyright. The copying aspect is vital – copyright gives you no protection against a similar work which has been independently produced.
Copyright is an unregistered right, which arises automatically on creation of the work. For a free right, the duration is surprisingly long – for example copyright may subsist in literary works for the lifetime of the author, plus an additional seventy years.
However, it is often difficult to prove existence, ownership and/or infringement of copyright. It is therefore vital to keep records of when works are created and generally advisable to mark all new copyright work with © (owner’s name) (year of first publication).
How we can help
We can provide comprehensive advice on all aspects of copyright protection. We can advise on the best way to record copyright and we can also assist in the enforcement of copyright should the need arise.
Anti-counterfeiting and Product Piracy
Counterfeiting and product piracy can cause significant damage to the reputation and commercial interests of rights-holders generally, and may also pose an additional risk to consumers and end users when sub-standard or defective products are passed off as genuine.
Counterfeiting and piracy may involve unauthorized use of trade marks, direct copying of copyright works – particularly recordings and films, copying of product designs and unlicensed use of patented inventions.
How we can help
Page Hargrave can assist you in taking proactive and reactive steps to protect your intellectual property rights from counterfeiters and pirates.
In the UK and European Union countries, we can apply directly to the national Customs authorities to have them watch for imports of goods which may infringe your intellectual property rights, particularly registered trade marks and copyright works. If unauthorized goods are identified, these can be seized and destroyed. We have extensive experience of working with Customs to seize goods infringing major sports brands, for example.
In the UK, we also regularly work with Trading Standards authorities throughout the country to assist them in identifying counterfeit goods on sale and to enable them to have the infringing goods seized and the sellers prosecuted.
Internet Domain Names and Online Infringements
Internet domain names have become increasingly important commercial tools, and are frequently treated as valuable assets in their own right. However, this growth in importance has also led to a corresponding growth in online abuses aimed at taking unfair advantage of or illicitly exploiting the reputation of legitimate businesses and their customers.
There are the cybersquatters, and typosquatters and many so-called “domainers”, who register domain names (sometimes by the thousand) identical or closely similar to legitimate business names and trade marks and use them for parasitic exploitation – typically for “click-through” monetization, or for phishing, or misdirecting potential customers to competing sites. There are others who use websites to market counterfeit and pirate goods or try to sell them through online auction sites, or misappropriate business names and trade marks to distort search engine rankings.
How we can help
Page Hargrave has extensive experience of dealing with all of these sorts of abusive activities. We can handle your domain name registration disputes in the UK through the Nominet DRS, in .eu through the EURid ADR process or elsewhere through the UDRP system administered by WIPO and other UDRP service providers. We can also advise you on use of the various administrative policies of auction sites, such as the eBay VeRO program, and of the search engines, such as the Google Adwords trademark complaint procedures.
Additionally, we can assist you with domain name clearance and registration, purchases and investigations.