A small claims court for your intellectual property.
This blog is written by BCre8ive’s guest blogger – photographer Alan Gallery
The most important thing to understand about copyright is that in UK and EU law it is a property right. But copyright is of little use unless it can be enforced and no more so that when artists copyright is so easily and frequently infringed on the Internet. The good news is that there is now a UK small claims court specialising in intellectual property cases up to £10,000, without the need to hire a solicitor and where the costs are capped and cannot run out of control.
In the UK, the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court small claims track (IPEC SCT) deals with copyright, trademarks and design rights, where a cases is simple. It has been established specifically to support developing and established small creative businesses. It is suitable for claims where the copyright holder is seeking damages for infringement, account of profits, seizure of infringing items and/or a final injunction to prevent future infringement. Any growing creative business that is building a body of work, establishing a brand identity and even branching out into collectibles, could do with this sort of protection.
The IPEC has other tracks for progressively more complex and costly cases so when making an application to the court it is important to say that you are applying for the small claims track. Not all cases need to go to the court and it is advisable to make reasonable efforts to resolve the issue before hand.
Help with Letters and the Law etc.
EPUK (link below) have published a detailed guide with sample letters detailing the initial process and while it is aimed at photographers it can be adapted for simple claims.
Make sure you publish Your Terms and Conditions
What often gets overlooked in advice about copyright are the terms and conditions on which you licence your works. Even if the infringer is not a client your terms and conditions set out the framework of any claim, as it is basis on which you do business. The court will look at the cost you would licence a work for as basic amount of damages. If your terms have an uplift for using work without permission of 100% and an uplift for lack of a credit of 50% the court will take those into account when assessing how flagrant the infringement is. For infringements that have being going on for a long time it is worth claiming interest on the basic amount of damages and it helps if there is a clause for late payment interest in your terms and conditions.
Intellectual Property Enterprise Court small claims track guide:
Written by Alan Gallery