Brand and Reputation Protection: Legal Prevention and Legal Cure

Practical tips for restauranteurs in relation to branding and IP

An AIR workshop with a presentation and discussion led by Thomas Snell and Passmore.

Identify the status of workers producing IP for your business. Are they employees? If so, are the creating the IP during the course of their employment? If so, the IP belongs to the employer

If there is any doubt about whether your workers are employees or if the projects they are working on fall outside the scope of their employment, it would be worth carrying out a review of your employment contracts.

When commissioning any works from non-employees, such as consultants, photographers, graphic designers, chefs, web designers or possibly even from co-directors,

make sure you always confirm the commission in writing and where necessary, obtain a written assignment of any IP they will be creating for you – or at the very least a suitable licence to give you control of the work.

Ensure that recipients of confidential information sign a confidentiality agreement before releasing confidential information to them. This includes employees, consultants, and possible trade partners. Include a confidentiality clause in employment contracts

Make staff aware that it is a breach of confidential information and their terms of employment to pass on confidential information of your customers. This may also result in fines from the ICO.

Restrict access to confidential information. Make sure that information is disseminated on a need-to-know basis.

It is always sensible to keep records that show what projects each employee or consultant has worked on, so if legal action needs to be taken, you can prove what information they are likely to have in their possession.

Remind departing employees and consultants of their obligations of confidentiality and ask them in writing to confirm that they have returned all company property, which includes IP and confidential information.

Consider registering trademarks or designs, if these are valuable to your business and you want a monopoly right to use the brand

Businesses seeking court protection need to take action promptly to restrain any misuse of IP rights or confidential information.

Delay is a bar to obtaining an injunction. So acting as soon as you discover the problem is key.  Cease and desist letter to secure undertakings followed by court action if sufficiently serious. Alternatively notice and take down procedures.

However, are there non legal options? SEO, working with marketing agency that can help boost rankings and reduce ranking of negative pages?

Finally, think about monitoring your IP to enable swift action to be taken.

This means that periodically you should carry out internet searches, trade directory searches, company name searches and possibly even trade mark searches, to see whether any of your IP is being misused.

Consider non-legal alternatives to deal with disputes such as SEO.

For further advice on this subject, please visit the Thomas, Snell & Passmore website.