International intellectual property law


Many businesses are based on an idea which forms the intellectual property of the company. Protecting international intellectual property is a must for all enterprises so they can maintain their income from the products they produce.

What does intellectual property mean?

International intellectual property law encompasses a range of different topics. Intellectual property is the concept of protecting products and rewards those who worked to develop those products.

Intellectual property rights are intangible. International intellectual property law relates to exploiting intellectual property rights internationally. It can also relate to enforcing or protecting intellectual property rights internationally.

Intellectual property can mean:

  • Copyrights
  • Patents
  • Trademarks
  • Design ideas

Your international intellectual property can be infringed in a number of ways. One of the most common is the import of counterfeit goods that attempt to pass themselves off as legitimate goods that your business has manufactured. In these cases HMRC (HM Revenue & Customs) do have the power to act.

Contact them if you think a company is importing counterfeit goods that compromise your international intellectual property.

Generally, international intellectual property rights are what are called territorial. This means that if you register a trademark in the UK for instance, it may not be recognised in any other country.

Intellectual property rights abroad

You may wish to allow another business abroad to use some of your intellectual property-protected products, for example your company’s logo. The logo is likely to attract:

  • Copyright protection
  • Trademark (if registered) protection

You could allow another business to use your company logo in return for a fee. This is what is known as a licence agreement between you and the other business. Effectively, you are making money out of your intellectual property-protected products (in this example the company logo) by licensing them to another business.

An international intellectual property law firm could help you draft the licence agreement.

If you allow the other business to use your company logo on certain items only and the other business used the logo on other items (which you did not agree to) you could sue them for copyright or trademark (if registered) infringement. In this instance an international intellectual property law firm could help you bring a claim against the other business in the civil courts.

Using a solicitor

Copyright, patents and trademarks can all be registered overseas. To do this you will need the assistance of a specialist solicitor. They will have detailed knowledge of international intellectual property law and can advise you about the best way to protect your property. For instance, the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) enables you to register a copyright in several countries.

If you think your intellectual property has been infringed in some way you can contact the Intellectual Property Office in the UK for advice. They will be able to assess the alleged infringement and tell you what your options are.

And if you do decide to take the person or business you are accusing of breaking intellectual property law to court, you should always have a solicitor to represent you. Intellectual property cases can be complex, and all the more so when they include an international element.

For more general information on intellectual property law, see our page about IP.

Do you have a legal issue concerning intellectual property law which has an international element? Contact Law works with international lawyers specialising in intellectual property matters who can help you whether you need help simply in the EU or worldwide. Please call us on 0800 1777 162 or complete the web-form above.

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