Alex Chapman's blog

Alex Chapman

Alex is a partner with Sheridans and a leading lawyer in the interactive and digital media industry with particular expertise in intellectual property matters.

Understanding Trade Marks in Fifteen Simple Steps

A copyright will protect you from PIRATES by Ioan Sameli - http://www.flickr.com/photos/biwook/145765624/Note that this is a UK/EU perspective and laws do vary across territories.

1.  A trade mark is anything that identifies the goods and services of a business or distinguishes them from those of another.

2.  A registered trade mark gives statutory protection and an effective monopoly in respect of that mark for the goods or services it is registered for AND for similar marks with the same or similar goods where there is a likelihood of confusion. Well known registered trade marks have additional protection if used by others for different goods or services to those for which they are registered if that use takes unfair advantage of or is detrimental to the repute of the well known registered mark.

// more

Using third party software

What's the situation when someone develops a game or product based on third party software (with permission) i.e a "vanilla" product or engine that is made available for that purpose - then someone else comes along and uses it?

In true lawyer style I have to say it depends on what the licence terms of the "vanilla" software are.

// more

"How can I protect my idea?"

So someone asks - "how can I protect my idea?"

Someone else says "put it in an envelope and post it to yourself."

Someone responds that that does nothing and is useless.

What is the reality?

// more

Business Names and Information Disclosure - a summary of the issues

I often get asked about disclaimers and notices in email footers and the requirements for providing infromation in web sites and emails. Its something I have commented on before on Chinwag and elsewhere but I thought it would be good to refresh the topic.

// more

Celebrity voice-a-likes

An interesting UKNM question yesterday:

Basically what is the deal with using an impersonator to do celebrity voice-a-likes on a website?

In the UK there is no automatic right of "personality" (unlike other countries - such as Germany).

However the law does protect against "false endorsement" - through the law of 'Passing Off'.

// more

When hackers strike

A question was asked on UKNM today.

I answered and wanted to share the reply.

The question was of a person who had her Tiscali email account hacked. The perpetrator forwarded private emails from her account to others and caused huge distress and embrassement. Is Tiscali obliged to to provide information concerning these acts? 

// more

Trade marks are property - treat them that way.

I see that Google is getting it in the neck again over trade marks. It seems it can't win - if it takes action to deal with trade mark infringers it is criticised as being over zealous and if it doesn't it is seen as being irresponsible.

I'm not going to add weight to any side of the argument here but it might help to explain a bit more about what trade marks are and what they do.

// more