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Copyright & Intellectual Property Law

A number of recent cases demonstrate the high level of protection that the Courts are willing to offer to the owners of intellectual property rights and the robust sanctions for those who breach  them.

Legal advice about intellectual property and copyright

What is intellectual property?

Intellectual property is a term commonly used to describe a range of legal rights that attach to certain types of information, ideas and creations and can be categorised into two categories:

  • Registered rights – those that are granted by an application to an official body such as the UK Intellectual Property Office, including patents, trademarks and registered designs.
  • Unregistered rights – those that arise automatically, including copyright, unregistered design rights and confidential information.

Copyright – a brief summary

  • Copyright protects “original” artistic, musical, dramatic and literary works, recordings, films, broadcasts, and typographical arrangements, including works ranging from computer programmes to chart pop music.
  • As an unregistered right, there is no need to register a copyright, it arises automatically on the creation of that work and usually lasts for 70 years after the death of the creator.
  • Copyright does not protect against another individual independently developing the same idea or work.
  • Ownership of copyright allows the owner to prevent unauthorised use of that work, such as making copies or issuing copies to the public.
  • An owner of copyright owner has both moral and economic rights to their original work.  Principally, moral rights include the right to be identified as the author of the work, whilst economic rights include the right to copy, distribute, broadcast and alter the work.
  • If any person copies a substantial amount of the work without the consent of the author, the remedies available to the author include damages, accounting for loss of profits, an injunction and, in some cases (as below) can include criminal sanctions.

Breach of Copyright – custodial sentence

In Phonographic Performance Ltd v Fletcher, the High Court passed a suspended 28 day custodial sentence for a nightclub owner who consistently played copyright material without permission and, in doing so, showed disregard for copyright of that material. Additionally, the nightclub owner failed to keep his promise to pay a schedule of license fees and was ordered to pay substantial costs as well as damages relating to the unpaid licence fees.

Breach of Copyright – compensation for unfair profits

In another recent case the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court ruled on a website displaying 21 photographs without the consent of the photographer. Due to the flagrancy of the breach, the photographer was awarded a substantial amount of compensation for the website making unfair profits – £6,000 plus damages.

Business Intellectual Property Rights

Do you suspect your copyright has been breached?
Are you a business looking to formally protect your intellectual property? 

Contact our intellectual property and copyright solicitors

If you would like advice on intellectual property rights, please contact our team of expert commercial and business lawyers, using the numbers below:

Leicester call us on 0116 254 8871.

Hinckley call us on 01455 639 900.

Market Harborough call us on 01858 467 181.