Copyright infringement

Copyright is an area of law that is becoming increasingly important in the digital age, as works are created and shared by electronic means. If you have a copyright infringement issue it is essential that you seek professional advice without delay.

What is copyright?

Copyright is a right which is automatically provided to the authors or creators of original works. Copyright can protect sound recordings, films, broadcasts and original artistic, musical, dramatic and literary works. Copyright can be sold, licensed or assigned to someone else.

For literary, musical, artistic and dramatic work copyright lasts for the creator’s lifetime plus 70 years after their death. This also applies to software and can even apply to some functional (but still ‘artistic’) articles. For films, copyright lasts for 70 years after the death of the last of the directors, score composer and screenplay authors and for the layout of published editions (such as newspapers, magazines or books) protection is protected by publisher’s right, which lasts for 25 years from the date of creation.

Copyright infringement

Copyright will be infringed where a substantial part of a work is copied without the consent of the owner of the copyright. There are also various other acts, besides copying, that can amount to infringement where a third party does them without the consent of the copyright owner.

As historically copyright has been the least harmonised of intellectual property rights, mainly because different countries had different views of what should be protected and how, global – or European – copyright protection and enforcement raises many complex legal issues, on which specialist advice is vital.

Cease and desist letters

Cease and desist letters can be a practical way of resolving copyright infringement disputes without recourse to the courts. If you are sending a cease and desist letter, you need to set out your rights, explain why they are infringed and explain what needs to be done and by when if the matter is not to escalate.

If you have received a cease and desist letter, you will need to give consideration to whether the intellectual property is valid and has indeed been infringed and, if so, whether the rights holder is entitled to the remedies they are seeking. You will need to respond within a given period of time setting out your position and, if appropriate, making an offer to settle.

Care needs to be taken in sending and responding to cease and desist letters. If you are considering sending or responding to a letter we strongly encourage seeking legal advice.

What remedies are available for copyright infringement?

Compensation for copyright infringement and passing off will vary from case to case, but usually includes:

  • an injunction preventing the infringement.
  • recovery of damages or an account of the infringer’s profits.
  • delivery-up or destruction of any infringing goods.
  • recovery of a portion of the legal costs incurred enforcing the IP rights.

How we can help

We can help you with the following:

  • Assess the prospects of success for copyright infringement.
  • Prepare a cease and desist letter or, as appropriate, a response to any cease and desist letter, clearly setting out your position and complying with all of the requirements of the UK courts.
  • Look into practical ways to resolve your dispute without court action.
  • If your dispute is not resolved and goes to court, robustly presenting your case.

Why we are best placed to help

We are a leading UK intellectual property firm, dedicated to protecting and enforcing our clients’ IP rights. We have specialised in IP protection for over 125 years and are ranked top tier in all the UK legal directories (Chambers UK, IP Stars, Legal 500, IAM Patent 1000). Whether a large corporation or a small to medium sized enterprise, we are committed to providing only the best IP advice available.

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We offer a free initial consultation in order to help you understand the legal and practical issues relating to your case. This will enable you to decide what action to take, with no obligation to work with us at that stage.

We are known for our clear, reliable and cost-effective advice and have many years of experience of successfully protecting and fighting for our clients' rights.

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