Navigating Intellectual Property Litigation: A Guide for UK Manufacturers

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Robert Brothers - Senior Associate


Safeguarding intellectual property assets (IP) is crucial for manufacturers. This short blog from our Manufacturing Solicitors focuses on different categories of IP, including trademarks, copyright, and trade secrets protection, how and when these may apply, and some practical steps for protecting and enforcing IP

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Navigating Intellectual Property Litigation in Manufacturing A Guide for UK Manufacturers v2

Trademark Law: Defending Brand Integrity

Trademarks protect distinctive signs, including names, logos, and slogans, that distinguish goods and services in the marketplace.

Trademark rights are acquired through their continued use in the course of trade (unregistered trademarks) and/or formal registration with the UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO). Registration enhances trademark protection since a registered trademark is typically easier to enforce and can cover specific classes of goods and services.

Manufacturers can take steps to protect their unique brand from infringement by enforcing registered and unregistered trademarks. For instance, if a business trades under a specific brand, it may prevent others from using it by commencing proceedings for trademark infringement and/or passing off and seeking injunctive relief or damages.

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trademark in manufacturing

Copyright Law: Protecting Creative Assets

Copyright protects original literary, artistic, and musical works, including designs, drawings, and bespoke marketing materials. Protection is automatic upon the creation of an original work, and ownership vests in the author.

There is no formal registration process for copyright in the UK, but it may be available in other jurisdictions.

Typically, copyright is infringed by copying and/or imitation and in these circumstances, the copyright owner can seek an injunction and damages to protect their creative assets.

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Copyright Law Protecting Creative Assets

Trade Secret Protection Safeguarding Confidentiality

Trade secrets are protected through common law, express contractual obligations, and/or The Trade Secrets (Enforcement, etc) Regulations 2018.

Trade secret protection relies on maintaining the confidentiality of information, and the law expressly recognises the importance of confidential business information that provides a competitive advantage.

If confidential information is misused or misappropriated, legal remedies may be pursued by bringing a claim for breach of confidence, which would seek damages and injunctive relief to preserve the integrity of trade secrets.

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Trade Secret Protection Safeguarding Confidentiality

Practical Steps for Manufacturers

Pre-Litigation Measures: Mitigating Disputes 

Manufacturers must have a clear grasp of what IP assets they have and how these are protected. Manufacturers should conduct regular IP portfolio audits to identify vulnerabilities and implement measures to strengthen their position. That might include reviewing contracts with employees or suppliers to ascertain what provisions are in place to protect IP and confidential information and whether these can be updated. 

Registering IP: Strengthening Your Position

Certain IP rights are registerable, and manufacturers should capitalise on the added protection that they afford. For instance, whilst an unregistered trademark is enforceable regarding a claim for passing, a validly registered trademark offers UK-wide protection and is generally easier to evidence and enforce. 

Litigation Preparedness: Taking Swift and Decisive Action

Preparation for litigation involves close collaboration with specialist IP lawyers to gather evidence, understand court procedures, and navigate the nuances of IP litigation. Taking immediate steps to enforce IP rights is crucial since taking no action or delaying matters could give rise to defences of waiver and/or implied consent, which could defeat infringement claims. 


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Practical Steps for Manufacturers


We hope this blog is a useful starting point for manufacturers to understand the different categories of IP protection and options for enforcement. In essence, manufacturers should proactively identify, secure, and defend their IP assets.

Regular IP audits, contractual reviews, and collaboration with specialist lawyers are recommended. That approach ensures resilience and success in the face of evolving challenges in the competitive manufacturing sector.

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Robert Brothers's profile picture

Robert Brothers

Senior Associate

Rob has 7 years of experience acting as a Dispute Resolution solicitor. Rob has specialist expertise in professional negligence disputes, shareholder and partnership disputes, complex contractual disputes, intellectual property, reputation management and commercial agency claims.

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