One area of IP law that can catch companies out is in relation to making an unintentional threat to sue for infringement of IP, when only seeking to notify a third party about the IP. The law protects third parties, and especially third party's customers from unjustified threats. One of the downsides, of UK law is that an IP attorney instructed to communicate with a client's competitor over IP infringement, could find themselves on the wrong side of a counterclaim for making unjustified threats - which would then leave the attorney conflicted and unable to act further for their own client. This has tended to result in unclear communications.
I am pleased to report that on Sunday, UK law was improved to mitigate such issues, and to bring the law in relation to trade marks and designs into line with that for patents. These changes should make it easier for all to be able to notify third parties of the existence of IP rights and, when appropriate, for a sensible negotiations to take place. The issue of unjustified threats is not just one for UK law, and should be kept in mind when communicating with competitors in other countries.
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