26 June 2017

A shortcut to product marking – the new online web rules to help you protect your IP rights

In April, the UK’s Digital Economy Act received Royal Assent, bringing with it a number of modernising changes to UK IP protection. One of the most practical of these is the extension of “web marking” of products to include your registered design rights.

Why mark your products with details of your registered rights?

Whilst there is no legal requirement to mark your products with details of your rights, it is very common to see “Patent Pending”, the © symbol for copyright and TM or ® to show trade mark rights.

We always recommend that our clients mark their products with full details of their registered rights – not only does a notice act as a warning to potential infringers, but under UK law an “innocent infringer” will generally not be liable to pay you damages in an infringement action against them.  Marking a product provides “constructive notice”, alerting third parties that your registered right exists.

But marking all goods, marketing materials, packaging and all other reference material with full details of a product which may have multiple patent and design registrations and applications can be quite a challenge. Especially when those markings have to be kept up to date to avoid action being taken against you for falsely claiming a product has registered protection, when that right has expired or been refused or withdrawn.

What changes with “Web Marking”?

The Intellectual Property Act 2014, introduced the option for a patent owner / applicant to mark products with the address of a single static web page address (e.g. http://www.hcrlaw.com/OurPatents) instead of listing each individual patent or patent application number. The new Digital Economy Act extends web marking to listing your design rights.

We have found that clients with a number of patents have already benefited from the changes. Not only are they more likely to mark their product, but doing so is significantly less complicated.

The requirements for web marking are simple – the web page needs to be easily accessible, maintained and the information kept up-to-date with any address used on your products clearly linking the associated registered patent or design number(s).

We have no doubt that used effectively, web marking (and maintaining a single web page that lists both patent and design rights, as well as details of your trade marks and other IP) can bring significant benefits in helping you to protect your IP and ensuring you stay in control of one of your most important business assets.

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About the Author
Robert Capper, Partner, Head of Commercial Team and Sectors
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