2nd March 2015

New reforms introduced with regard to unjustified threats

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2nd March 2015

New reforms introduced with regard to unjustified threats


The government outlined new measures on 26 February 2015 in response to the Law Commission’s report on unjustified Intellectual Property threats.

Protection against groundless threats of infringement proceedings will be retained for patents, trade marks, registered and unregistered design right. A number of new reforms will also be introduced. These are:

  • making sure that the threats provisions are much clearer
  • making it easier for parties to make good faith attempts to settle an IP infringement dispute before litigation
  • stopping legal advisers from being subject to threats and accusations, when the dispute is between the parties that they represent.

Threats of legal action for IP infringement can cause significant commercial damage to small businesses. They are costly and disruptive, drive customers away and stop business from selling goods and services.

Conversely, we (as legal advisers) have to be extremely careful when preparing ‘cease and desist’ letters for clients with registered rights in case we find ourselves on the receiving end of litigation claims for groundless threats.

The new reforms attempt to strike a balance between the two conflicting positions.

Intellectual Property Minister Baroness Neville-Rolfe said: “We are improving protection against the groundless threats of intellectual property infringement that small businesses can face. Our reforms will make sure the law properly protects businesses from being threatened unfairly, but also allow innovative businesses to resolve disputes legitimately and enforce their rights.”