Given that the courts are rapidly closing their doors, businesses may ask whether this means that they will need to need to put the protection of their IP on hold? Not so - according to the courts.
Following the government’s announcement that the UK will now be placed in lockdown, several businesses face an extremely uncertain future and are having to make tough decisions about staff retention. Businesses may also take a decision not to shell out on what can be deemed low priority expenses like renewal fees. But a business’s intellectual property (IP) could become vulnerable if say, an ex-employee joins a competitor and chooses to share all of that business’s trade secrets or a trade mark lapses.
So what can be done to protect IP in the midst of a lockdown?
While they clearly cannot continue as if it is business as usual, the courts have already put in place several measures to ensure that urgent and critical matters can still be dealt with through telephone and video hearings. They have confirmed that they will be making as much use of this technology as possible as well as increasing the number of licences they have and training more staff on how to use the systems. The courts have also activated Skype for Business on all judicial and court staff laptops as another way to communicate remotely.
Urgent applications for interim injunctions have been identified as one of the areas that will be given priority. This means that if you find yourself in a situation where you are urgently seeking an interim injunction to protect your IP where, for instance, a third party is going to launch a new product using your logo or an ex-employee is about to disclose your most valuable confidential information, it is still possible to do so.
The UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) and EU Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) have also taken steps to deal with the issue by extending deadlines and the UKIPO encouraging customers to continue making use of telephone and Skype hearings.