Posted by Thomas Sutherland

Employment & HR - Morecrofts

Thu 24th, Sep

How does the famous FRIENDS TV show theme tune go?  ‘I’ll be there for you, when the rain starts to pour. I’ll be there for you, like I’ve been there before…’  Naturally, being a massive FRIENDS fan, I just had to get part of the theme tune in there when using the show as the subject for a blog.  

Whilst it would be ironic to quote Chandler’s famous line to Rachel of “I’m not so good with the advice… Can I interest you in a sarcastic comment?”, I’ll do my best to stay on track.  So, in all seriousness, what could happen if friends fall out at work and could you even be sacked for it?

Well, let’s explore the question further.  And to do so, let’s look at the rather unusual case of Mealing v Edmonds t/a The Gatehouse Diner. 

In this case, a very small employer had to deal with a tricky problem.  Namely, what to do with two former friends who had fallen out with each other so badly they struggled to even speak to each other.  Things got to such an extreme stage that the employer was forced to initiate disciplinary action against both of them.

Importantly, one employee’s behaviour improved after the disciplinary meeting (we’ll call this employee ‘Phoebe’).  Phoebe told her employer that she would speak to her colleague in future.  Unfortunately, the other employee (whom we will name ‘Monica’) merely stated that she would ‘think about it’ and continued to refuse to speak to Phoebe.

Due to Monica’s utter refusal to speak to Phoebe, and the negative atmosphere this caused in the workplace, she was eventually dismissed on grounds of her behaviour towards Phoebe.  A further consideration of the employer in doing so was finding out about a series of abusive text messages sent to Phoebe by Monica.  These text messages used foul language and made clear that Monica would not try to maintain a professional relationship with Phoebe as requested by her employer.  

In light of the facts, and despite the employer’s procedure being technically flawed, the tribunal ruled that Monica’s behaviour was so poor that she should not receive any compensation.  In particular, the tribunal rejected Monica’s argument that it was unfair for the employer to dismiss her and not Phoebe as well.  This was primarily because Phoebe’s behaviour had improved following the discussion with her employer, whilst Monica’s had not.

It is important to note various specific circumstances of the case, one of the main ones being that the business was a small, cosy diner in which each employee had close proximity to another.  This meant that a problem in individual working relationships would have a big effect on customer service, as well as workplace morale and productivity.

At the end of the day, an employee is never going to be sacked for simply falling out with a colleague.  It is the ongoing effects of the falling out on the workplace which is crucial.  Therefore, unless the falling out has a major effect on the running of the business, colleagues will still have to work with those individuals they are not especially keen on!  

But don’t worry, there’s always that FRIENDS boxset and an accompanying cuppa when you get home…

Does your business need mediation services? Contact Morecrofts now.

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Posted by Stephen Sykes

Principal Consultant, Emansys Chair of Energy & Environment Member Forum

Mon 14th, Sep

I’ve taken advantage of the usual summer lull, working with Graeme Moore, a very bright and able intern from University of Liverpool, to update the Merseyside Environmental Trust’s (MET) website and two publications “Your Environmental Policy” and “Your Environmental Checklist”, both initially written for community organisations with a view to giving them a broader appeal and relevance. As we now head into autumn, it’s time to look forward, particularly to the imminent publication of the revision to ISO 14001: 2015. 

Over the past few months we have also been looking at how we can use the Chamber’s Member Forum on Energy & Environment (formally the Energy & Environment Committee) to not only raise awareness of issues which impact directly on businesses across the city region, but also encourage more members to become involved and have their say. So what better way to kick off the new look forum than with a presentation from Ray Mooney of Certification Body SGS UK Ltd to advise us of the changes and the implications of revision to ISO 14001:2015.   As a small taster of what Ray may have in store for us, here are a few headlines regarding ISO 14001:2015.

The new requirements can be split into 5 key categories:

Organisational Context – demonstrating that the organisation has a high-level understanding of the important issues that can affect, either positively or negatively, its ability to achieve the intended outcomes of its Environmental Management System (EMS).

Leadership – the need for management to be engaged in the operation of the EMS and include environmental performance as a factor when making strategic business decisions.

Risk – focus should not just be on environmental risks, but also the uncertainty associated with threats and opportunities from climate change, resource scarcity, new processes and materials.

Communication – having equal emphasis on external and internal communications is vital which should include communicating consistent and reliable information externally with your green message to the forefront in your marketing materials, and encouraging customers to adopt a similar ethos.

Monitoring – an emphasis on the need for evaluation in addition to the current requirements for measurement and analysis.

To find out more join us at the Members Forum on Wednesday 16th September at 10.00am (please contact jessica.flaherty@liverpoolchamber.org.uk to register). 

This has been a busy summer, on both a political and social level, with a range of issues emerging to which the government will need to find solutions. As a Member of the Chamber you can help to influence both the debate and actions going forward, so if there are issues you would like to raise for future Forum meetings, please contact myself or Michelle Cameron at the Chamber (michelle.cameron@liverpoolchamber.org.uk

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Alice Creswell-Hogg from Sellick Partnership talks about her year as an Apprentice

Posted by Alice Creswell-Hogg

Apprentice Administrator - Sellick Partnership

Mon 07th, Sep

A year ago this month I started my apprenticeship with Sellick Partnership  after interviewing with a wide range of businesses from investment banks to recruitment agencies around Liverpool city centre.

The last 12 months have been a learning curve for myself and it has been much more than just an opportunity to gain some work experience and a qualification it has developed into a career I want to pursue. In my first blog for Sellick Partnership I discussed my reasoning for choosing to do an apprenticeship over going to university and I still think that if someone asked me if I had made the right decision the answer would still be yes.

Through completing my apprenticeship I have come to realise and appreciate just how valuable the past year has been and I’m here to share the reasons why:

Transferable skills: In the past 12 months I have learnt and continue to learn new skills as well as developed my already existing skill set. For example, a main part of my role as an administrator is formatting CVs. You may be thinking “how is formatting CVs a transferrable skill?”, but CV formatting requires a high attention to detail, a skill most job advertisements stress is an important requirement to the employer. Although I would have learnt transferable skills at university, the list of transferable skills I have learnt during my time at Sellick Partnership is a lengthy one and some of which I wouldn’t have learnt at university.

Work experience: Nowadays the majority of students have a part time job alongside studying at university however this job usually isn’t relevant to their desired career or degree. My time at Sellick Partnership has allowed me to gain insight into a sector I never really knew a lot about but was of interest to myself and it actually turned out that it’s a sector I would like a career in. Apprenticeships are a fantastic way to get your foot in the door in the industries and sectors you are interested in and provide a great base of relevant work experience for you to build on, not to mention a qualification to go with it.

Qualifications: The qualification you receive depends on the type of apprenticeship that you do, starting off with a qualification that is the equivalent to a GCSE all the way to one which is equivalent to a foundation degree. Not only do these qualifications demonstrate that you are academically capable but that you have the practical experience and ability to compliment your knowledge of the qualification.

Network and connections: The famous saying “It’s not what you know but who you know” is a popular debate and apprenticeships are a great way to build a foundation network of individuals and companies in your desired career field. I for one can back up that the people you network with when doing an apprenticeship, whether it be colleagues or clients, have a wealth of knowledge, a large breadth of skills and a great network which you can benefit from in order to develop your career. Throughout my apprenticeship at Sellick I have worked with people who all have different levels of experience from a number of years to a number of months from a variety of backgrounds who I have learnt from in one way or another.

So if you’ve recently received your GCSE and A-Level results and not sure what to do next I would highly recommend doing an apprenticeships. If you are considering an apprenticeship my top tips would be firstly choose something that you’re interested in and secondly pick the right company, something which I cannot stress enough. If you’re considering hiring an apprentice but not sure how valuable it would be to them you can see from this blog post just how valuable I have found it and I’m sure they will too. 

To hire/become an Apprentice

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Zee Hussain explains what businesses can learn from the Chelsea medics row.

Posted by Zee Hussain

Employment Partner - Colemans-ctts

Mon 07th, Sep

Chelsea FC Manager Jose Mourinho hit the headlines recently as a result of his actions towards team doctor Eva Carneiro and physio Jon Fearn, who were both heavily criticised for running on to the pitch towards the end of the Chelsea v Swansea game on 8 August to treat one of the players, Eden Hazard.

The views of Mourinho were that Carneiro and Fearn had acted to the detriment of the game and Mourinho wasn’t shy in showing his fury regarding their actions. A substantial change to both roles were made following the game, which became clear to the public when neither parties were present on the bench at the match between Chelsea and Manchester City on 16 August 2015.


This raises the question of how such actions by a manager can lead to issues from an employment law perspective. Here I will flag the potential issues that can arise from demoting an employee.

Potential breach of contract

When an employer demotes an employee without warrant or by failing their HR procedures, this can lead to a breach of an employee’s contract. When considering demoting an employee, the employer must consider the seriousness of the employee’s actions, whether a demotion is reasonable and a proportionate sanction in such circumstances, and whether the employer has the contractual right to demote an employee. 

In absence of an express right to demote an employee, the employer can seek agreement from an employee to accept the demotion. This agreement should be in writing. In circumstances where an employer could justify dismissing the employee but is willing to give the employee a ‘second chance’, demotion could be put to the employee as an alternative to dismissal. 

What to check

An employer should check their disciplinary procedures. Sometimes such policies are contained within the employee’s contract of employment, or can be found in a separate handbook. 

If your disciplinary policy/employment contract is silent on demotion, it is advisable to include a section on demotion as an option available to the employer when dealing with a disciplinary matter. 

In the High Court case of Smith v Housing Trust [2013], for example, it was ruled that an employer had committed a breach of the employee’s contract where they demoted an employee as a consequence of the employee posting a controversial comment on his Facebook profile regarding same sex marriages in a church. This case illustrates the importance of assessing the facts fully before making a decision to demote an employee.

Constructive dismissals

This is where an employer has committed a breach of the employee’s contract of employment. The breach is so serious that it entitles the employee to regard themselves as released from their obligations owed under such contract and permits the employee to resign from their position without providing notice. Care must, therefore, be taken when demoting an employee, so as not to give rise for a claim for constructive dismissal. 

A demotion can happen without the employer deeming it formally to be as such, an example of this could be, where the employee’s job title has not been changed but their role in practice has changed so severely for it to feel like they have been demoted. 

Where an employer intends to change an employee’s role substantially, the key to achieving this goal, without falling foul of the rules, is to communicate the change and reasons for it with the employee and to be clear in your own mind that the reason for making such change is justified and is in line with the company’s policies and procedures.

In the Northern Ireland Tribunal case Druse v Newry & Mourne District Citizens Advice Bureau, an award of over £40,000.00 was made to an employee who claimed that the employer had sought to unilaterally impose a new job description on him several times, which would have resulted in significant changes to the employee’s role. It was ruled that the employer had constructively dismissed the employee in these circumstances.

It remains to be seen what the Mourinho fiasco will unveil, however, in this instance he doesn’t appear to have been the perfect role model for an employer. Just remember that consistency, communication, clarity and compliance with contracts/policies are all key when considering demoting an employee. The benefits in return can be significant.

For the original blog on Fresh Business Thinking

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Posted by Phil Bird

Managing Director - PC Support Group

Fri 04th, Sep

Managing IT systems is all about thinking ahead and preventing problems BEFORE they cause major problems, but unfortunately things still occasionally go wrong and yesterday one of our clients had a major incident. Yes I admit no IT support company can prevent everything in advance! Not even our robust processes and powerful support management software.

However, it’s during these times that IT support teams are really tested; how quickly and professionally can they respond?

We tend to focus on the following areas:

  1. Risk Reduction -What do we need to do immediately to ensure that the issue doesn’t impact the business further?
  2. Business continuity – what can we do to ensure the individual or business can continue to operate as close to 100% effectiveness?
  3. Communication – ensure that all parties are kept up to date throughout the period of the issue
  4. Diagnosis – Quickly and calmly get to the root cause of the issue. All too often IT support departments take the “try this, try that” approach, particularly if they panic during a major event.
  5. Fix and test – Don’t just fix the problem; make sure it’s fixed by testing
  6. Confirmation – Is the customer happy that everything is now working perfectly again
  7. Review – What can we learn from this experience? Can we improve our knowledge, systems or processes to avoid or reduce the risk of this reoccurring, or does the customer need to change anything?

I was therefore delighted that following the incident with our customer we received the following glowing report:

“Just wanted to express my thanks for the way the team at The PC Support Group responded to our urgent problem today.

From Scott who took the initial call and very quickly realised that we had a serious problem and escalated the event, to Steve for taking charge and coordinating the effort and for Andy who was hands on working on our servers, and additionally  anyone else I was unaware of,  many thanks."

It appears our processes work!

If you want to know more please email us on info@pcsupportgroup.com or call us on 03300 886 116. 

Find out more information here.

 

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Brenda Li from The Keith Jones Partnership talks about how proposals for further rises in court fees could affect SMEs

Posted by Brenda Li

Director - The Keith Jones Partnership

Wed 26th, Aug

The Justice Minister has recently announced proposals for a further rise in court fees. The Keith Jones Partnership Solicitors recently campaigned against the dramatic increase in court issue fees which took place in March this year where court fees were increased by as much as 622%! There are now proposals to double the maximum court issue fee for money claims to rise from £10,000 to £20,000! Fees are currently payable on 5% of the value of a claim up to a maximum fee of £10,000.

The Law Society has said that the plans are "tantamount to selling justice like a commodity". The Law Society president, Johnathan Smithers has gone on further to say that it would "cripple" individuals and small businesses trying to recover money owed to them.

The proposed further increase in Court fees have been dubbed a “barrier to access to justice” for SMEs who need to litigate. For those who cannot meet the cost, that barrier could mean they go out of business. The Court fees hikes appear to be grossly unfair. The Keith Jones Partnership will actively campaign against this and some of the points we are proposing to put to the Justice Minister are as follows:-

  • We understand that the Courts are not losing money and they are breaking even. If this is the case, then how can any hike in fees be justified?

 

  • The issue of legal proceedings is not an expensive process at all. All the Court does when issuing a claim is stamp a copy of the Claim Form, log the claim onto the system and send out the claim by post to the Defendant. How can a fee of £20,000 possibly be justified for such a simple process?

 

  • The Government have determined that an appropriate fee for a solicitor carrying out all of the pre action work necessary and drafting the Claim Form and Particulars of Claim is just £100. Given that the Government have decided that £100 is an appropriate fee for all of the work involved in this, we would again ask how it could possibly be justified for the Court to charge £20,000 to simply stamp, log and serve a claim.

 

  • Following on from this point, we can see a real difficulty in claims settling and thereby far more may well go to Trial. At the start of any legal proceedings, we make every effort to negotiate settlements for our clients. If immediately upon issue, the Claimant has had to pay out up to £20,000.00, then the prospects of settlement will be significantly diminished.

 

  • When a client comes to us, they are already substantially out of pocket as they have been kept out of monies owed to them by the debtor. We can envisage that, in these circumstances, many SMEs will struggle to raise the Court fee required and we have no doubt that some would not be able to pursue a legitimate debt and even have to go out of business.

 

  • We are convinced that there will be a knock on detrimental effect on the economy. We have already seen an increase in insolvency proceedings being issued instead of legal proceedings as it is now generally a cheaper option when trying to recover an outstanding debt. This means more businesses end up in liquidation, rather than entering into long-term instalment arrangements that can be put in place where county court proceedings have been instigated.

 

The Ministry of Justice is currently conducting a consultation and we invite you to give them your views on this very important issue. 

The MoJ consultation will close on 15 September 2015.

Complete the Ministry of Justice Online Survey

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"Liverpool City Region's time is now"

Posted by Alan Welby

Executive Director - Liverpool City Region LEP

Wed 19th, Aug

Government received 39 economic plans when it came to allocating the Local Growth Fund to LEP areas.  You can bet that at least 30 of them used the word ‘unique’ to describe their economic potential.  So what is it that really makes Liverpool City Region unique?

The first thing to note is that many different areas can have many different strengths. ‘Comparative advantage’ or ‘competitive advantage’ does exist – areas can have ‘smart specialisation’ not as an abstract concept but as a result of their ‘path dependency’ and ‘institutional fix’. In plain English – because all areas have different histories, they have different industries, people have different skills, and at a point in time – these can be strengths that make one area more worthy of investment compared to others.

Liverpool City Region's time is now.

The City Region Growth Plan spotted three huge economic opportunities.

  • Our City Centre – attractive to business and to tourism and a brand known around the world.
  • Our ‘Freight and Logistics Hub’ – the unique set of assets associated with the Superport that extends throughout the entire City Region and beyond.
  • LCR2Energy – the opportunity to be energy self sufficient within 20 years with the associated energy security, fuel poverty and carbon reduction benefits

Nowhere – and we mean nowhere – has such a unique set of economic assets and nowhere can create or replicate such – it is genuine, it is born from the City Region's history and it is of national importance if any Government is to be serious about creating a Northern Powerhouse and rebalancing the economy of the UK.

We have a City that is globally known, that millions visit - and we need to build on this strength.

Global freight change sees ships get bigger and the opening of a widened Panama Canal means Liverpool becomes the first port of call to enter Western Europe.  From pretty much anywhere in our City Region you are 30 minutes from the Port and less than 4 hrs from 35 million people. You cannot be any more people and port centric within the UK!  The market – not our Plan – is driving this change.  Our plan is to capture the benefits as quickly as we can.

And energy is likely to be the biggest issue of our age: we need it, we need it to be less damaging to our environment, we need it to be more secure, we want it to be cheaper and we want it now. Somewhere has to take a lead on tackling the issues faced, and nowhere is better placed than Liverpool City Region.

In summary then, no place has a set of assets like ours but they are not the only strengths with which we can promote what we do.  Our people are exceptional and hard working – productivity in some sectors is way above the UK average and when it comes to humour and friendliness the City Region is world renowned.

And nowhere has a commitment of business like our LEP area.   Our LEP is unique – it engages directly with the private sector in a way no other LEP can do. It is why as a City Region our public sector partners have a private sector representative on the Combined Authority as a voting member – another unique asset we have!

So is the Liverpool City Region unique – definitely!

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Does the interest rate benchmark influence your business’s bottom line? We take a look at the points to consider – and the steps to take if it does

Posted by Jonathan Dinsdale

Associate Solicitor, Colemans ctts

Wed 19th, Aug

Since the issue of Libor manipulation reared its head in 2012, there has been a lot of concern among businesses – and their legal advisors – as to who may have been affected financially. The combination of increased media focus on the activities of high-street and investment banks, the hangover from the financial crisis and further scrutiny of regulatory obligations have all served to intensify customers’ fears about potential losses. Jonathan Dinsdale, of national law firm Colemans-ctts, offers some guidance on how businesses can identify whether they are affected by Libor rate manipulation and the steps to take in response.

What is Libor?

Libor (the London Interbank offered rate) is the average interest rate at which a selection of leading banks on the London market are prepared to lend to one another. It is calculated as an average of estimates that are submitted by the banks in question and announced once every working day.

Libor is the benchmark used by banks and other financial institutions to calculate interest payments for customer products, such as mortgages, loans and more complex derivative products.

What exactly happened?

Libor is calculated on the basis of estimates submitted by banks and it was suggested that some of those banks might have submitted false figures – conspiring together to provide numbers that were either higher or lower than their actual estimates, in order to influence the final average.

In 2012, the Financial Services Authority (FSA), the predecessor of the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), fined a number of banks sums ranging from £59.5m to £160m, for significant failings in relation to Libor and Euribor. Further fines followed for misconduct relating to Libor in 2013. Most recently, the UK operations of Deutsche Bank was fined £227m by the FCA for Libor and Euribor failings, and for misleading the regulator.

How might Libor manipulation have affected businesses?

SMEs, partnerships and sole traders may be affected where they have used financial products that are benchmarked to Libor. If you think you may be affected, carefully check your contracts and agreements.

Is it possible to make a claim where this has happened?

There has been a lot of discussion over whether the manipulation of Libor may give rise to action. However, the guidance that was hoped for from a recent case failed to materialise and this has resulted in some confusion.

The Guardian Care Homes case against Barclays bank was settled a few weeks before the trial was due to start. Had Guardian Care Homes been successful, it could have opened the door for cancellation of other Barclays customers’ derivative contracts where it could be shown that the interest rates charged were calculated on the basis of a Libor rate manipulated by bank employees.

How is a claim made?

Businesses considering a claim will be faced with a two-fold test: 1) establishing their level of loss and 2) showing, on the balance of probabilities, that the bank’s manipulation caused the loss. This is likely to be more straightforward for those customers who defaulted on particular covenants in their financial products as a result of the Libor rate at the time. Customers should seek advice from accountants or financial advisors in relation to specific covenants embedded within products and whether Libor was instrumental in any breach situation.

Is there any way of knowing if a claim will be successful?

In view of the lack of judicial authority, it’s difficult to say. The first step is to look at the terms and conditions of financial products purchased to establish whether Libor is the benchmark used to calculate payments. After that, legal advice will establish whether any losses were directly attributable to the Libor rate during the relevant period when the losses occurred.

So it is simply a case of wait and see?

For anyone thinking of making a claim, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on the separate ongoing action launched by Guardian Care Homes against Lloyds banking group. This second piece of litigation by the same claimant is for just over £8m in relation to Lloyd’s involvement in the Libor manipulation. It will be interesting to see how this further claim goes and whether it will result in any judicial guidance. However, many are expecting another settlement, as it seems doubtful that Lloyds will want to expose itself to a contested trial and the clear risks of an adverse judgment.

Is there a time limit within which to make a claim?

Yes. Contractual limitation runs from the date the agreement was made and any claim in tort (such as negligent misstatement or misrepresentation) runs from the date of the breach. In both cases, the applicable time limit is six years. It’s a good idea to take legal advice in relation to limitation and, where necessary, to issue a claim protectively in order to stop the clock ticking.

Jonathan Dinsdale is an associate solicitor in the dispute resolution team atColemans ctts.  This blog was first posted on The Guardian

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Liam talks about his experience at Agent Marketing

Posted by Liam Lewis

Project Support Officer, Agent Marketing

Fri 14th, Aug

You should never trust your preconceptions, because most of the time, what you expect is completely different to what you experience…

I was expecting the conventional things that you associate with an office: dull walls, tiled ceilings, the odd murmur from the water cooler and really monotonous talk with peers. That wasn’t the case when I joined the team – dare I say, family –  at Agent Marketing. I went in to my first day with catastrophic nerves and complete and utter self-doubt, something I’d been accustomed to for years, the stigmas that had limited me from taking prior opportunities.

However, from the get-go I felt like I was flying; I was welcomed with open arms, literally. My first two weeks here were for work experience, but at the end of the first I got talking with Agent’s MD, Paul, about my future and what I wanted to pursue. Paul and I  talked a lot about different options, and by the end of the chat, he said he’d find something for me down the apprenticeship route – something I wanted dearly!

After 2 more weeks of refreshing challenges and experiences it was made official…

…I became the new Project Support Officer!

This news was overwhelming for me. Not to sound like a corny Oscar-winning actor, but I literally thanked every, single family member that had got me here. Because for the first time in a long time, I was proud of myself. I wouldn’t have had that feeling if it wasn’t for this place.

Since working here I’ve sat in client meetings, researched some big projects for the team, shared my own ideas for our Academy programme, presented my findings before the heads of departments, and even took part in Yoga (which was an achy experience that I won’t forget for a while!).

It’s safe to say I’m really happy and comfortable here, and it’s only just the start.

I look forward to the next chapter with my new, mid-week family…and Leo.

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UK intellectual property law has long been criticized for failing to keep up with the digital age

Posted by Edward Barnes

Head of Corporate & Commercial

Thu 13th, Aug

Partly in response to this, the Intellectual Property Act 2014 came into force in October last year (with all measures to be implemented  by the end of this year), in an attempt to modernise and simplify the law relating to designs and patents in the UK.

These are some of the key provisions:   

-        Design infringement is now a criminal offence - someone knowingly copying a registered design, without the owner’s consent, could be liable for a maximum of a 10 year prison sentence and/or a fine. It is hoped that the requirement that the copying be intentional will achieve a fair balance between design owners and potential infringers.

-        In commissioned work, ownership of both unregistered and registered designs no longer vests in the commissioner, but rather in the designer. This means that from now on commissioners will need an agreement with the designer, transferring ownership, otherwise the designer will retain all ownership rights to the design so a well drafted agreement is essential before the work is begun.  

-        A design opinion service is now being provided for anyone affected by a registered design (and this may be extended to include unregistered designs). This will be similar to the patent opinion service already provided by the Intellectual Property Office, providing a view on the validity of registered designs, and whether an infringement claim, or indeed a defence to infringement, would be successful.           

-        ‘Virtual patent marking’ provides the option for all patent owners to mark their patented products with a weblink (instead of a patent number) which will give detailed information about the patent and any applications that are associated with it. The use of a weblink will serve as notice to a third party of the existence of the patent.

-        The  Act widens the powers of the Intellectual Property Office by allowing it to revoke a patent if it has previously given the opinion that it does not fulfill the necessary requirements to be valid. This is a quick and low cost option to invalidate the patent of a competitor, without the need to issue costly proceedings although it may discourage businesses from seeking opinions in the future, as it could render their patents void.

Theft of intellectual property can cause major economic and reputational damage, which can be avoided by businesses being able to identify and protect what they have.

Businesses should review their intellectual property in the light of this new legislation. For more information regarding the Act, and how best to protect your intellectual property, please contact Ed Barnes on 01244 354829 or at edward.barnes@dtmlegal.com.

 

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