The best business advice, opinion, news and expertise in Greater Manchester and further afield.

Friday, 7 September 2012

Friday Guest Blog - Website Worries

By Tim Gray, Partner & Dispute Resolution Solicitor at Clough & Willis

As we move more towards being a knowledge-based economy, businesses across all sectors increasingly have a great deal of their worth tied up in their Intellectual Property, and that includes the goodwill associated with the business' reputation, trade marks and logos, names and branding. Websites are a key part of this, so what do you do if you think a competitor has copied your website?

Firstly, you need to identify whether your site has been copied in whole or in part and where the copying originated. If you have used a website creation tool, or purchased your site from an organisation selling website templates, you cannot really complain if the generic look and feel of your site appears elsewhere. However, if you have paid for a bespoke site then you need to ascertain if you actually bought the copyright from the website designer.

Once the above questions have been considered you may well be able to stop someone copying your site, based on some or all of the following: firstly, copyright in the coding that creates the site rests with the author and taking your code to create a new website is breach of your copyright; secondly, if you have trade marks on your site then copying and using those also breaches your rights; thirdly, if the look and feel of the site is sufficient to cause customer confusion this may amount to ‘passing off’, as the offender would be coat tailing on your reputation to ‘pass off’ his goods or services as your own.

In any of the above cases, the first step is to send a very robust letter to the copier setting out your rights, their breaches and demanding a remedy. If these aren’t satisfactory then an injunction and a claim for damages may well follow.

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