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Virtuoso Legal are a world-class Intellectual Property law firm. Our expert solicitors are experienced in all forms of intellectual property law. We have represented clients big and small, internationally and locally – for the past 10 years and we are renowned for our service.
Virtuoso Legal Secure Judgment for Zaap Restaurants
Virtuoso Legal Secure Judgment for Zaap Restaurants in Unregistered Design Right Infringement Action
28/02/2018 – Virtuoso Legal have received a judgment in favour of our client Zaap restaurants – in relation to an infringement of their unregistered design.
Zaap are an up-and-coming Thai-street food outfit based in Leeds, with outlets around the country.
They are built out of the eminently successful Sukhothai restaurant chain – who are also a runaway success in the area.
Zaap strive to make a visit to one of their outlets feel like you are transported to Bangkok.
Zaap’s authentic Thai-food combined with its original restaurant decor – which they put a great amount of attention to detail and effort into – are key features of this experience.
An example of such detail are the tuk tuks that Zaap have in their restaurants. Tuk tuks are a common form of transport in Thailand – and would be very familiar to anyone who has visited the area.
The ones that feature in Zaap’s restaurants are unique as they were built with tables and seating enclosed. As such, they form a big part of Zaap’s unique dining experience.
Zaap were shocked to find that this original design had been replicated by an ex-employee in a different Thai-restaurant.
Zaap instructed Virtuoso Legal to address this.
Whilst Zaap had not registered their tuk tuk designs – as design objects, they are automatically protected by UK and EU unregistered designs rights, as well as copyright.
Upon instruction Virtuoso Legal issued a claim based upon these rights, requesting a series of undertakings from the defendant.
In addition, Virtuoso Legal assisted Zaap in registering various rights with UKIPO – to ensure that important company assets are ring-fenced for the future.
Virtuoso Legal received a judgment in favour of our client in relation to the Defendant’s use of Zaap’s original tuk tuk seating designs.
In doing so, Zaap are reassured that their unique take on Thai dining will not be aped by others moving forward.
Virtuoso Legal will now take client instructions in respect of applying for an inquiry as to costs and the enforcement of the judgment.
Associate solicitor, Lakmal Walawage who worked closely on the case stated:
“Sukho Ltd. are known for offering authentic, high-end Thai cuisine in Yorkshire in their Sukhothai restaurants. Having enjoyed their food for years (and indeed having been a member of their staff in my student days), I was keen to help them protect the rights in their new ‘Zaap’ venture when they came to us. Sukho’s Zaap restaurants offer a very authentic Thai-street food experience, not only through their food and drink but through the decor and environment. It is an element of this unique dining experience (specifically the bespoke design of a tuk tuk dining area) that our client was seeking to protect in these proceedings.
The case was a complex design right infringement case (partially involving trade mark infringement), where the infringers were being particularly evasive and incooperative. In the circumstances, we were forced to take a strong stance, taking every initiative to protect and enforce the client’s IP rights and achieve their commercial objectives.
We have now managed to obtain judgment in favour of our client, and taking steps to enforce the same. It has been an absolute pleasure to work with both Chris and Gerrard at Sukho Ltd., and I look forward to working closely with them in the future.”
Chris Hammond, Commercial Director of Sukho Ltd., stated:
We found Virtuoso Legal after extensive research of law firms that specialised within the realm of Intellectual Property (IP). We had an array of challenges that were impinging on our rights and were damaging to our business. Lakmal was able to impart his expert knowledge across various complex challenges that we were keen to deal with as strongly as possible. Lakmal always proffers a strategic and systematic approach, particularly for our most recent IP case that has seen us defend our brand by way of a successful judgment from the High Court of Justice. Lakmal and the Virtuoso team have fought hard to ensure we retain our uniqueness within a complicated field of law. Lakmal has the drive and determination to ensure you have the best chance of being successful, and is able to relay complex issues in a clear succinct manner. We are very grateful to Lakmal and Virtuoso Legal and will continue to partner with them as we see real value in defending and retaining our IP. I would highly recommend Lakmal and the team at Virtuoso Legal.”
“The work undertaken by Lakmal for Sukho limited on this matter was substantial and comprehensive. When an innovative company like Sukho limited, who are leaders in their area, differentiate themselves from the crowd – they can end up with a target on their back.
Frankly, it’s difficult to come up with stand-out ideas. On the other hand it’s easy to copy these ideas and attempt to benefit from other people’s hard work.That is until you come across a business who has the awareness and inclination to stop this kind of activity in its tracks. In these cases, we are always happy to assist forward-thinking businesses like Sukho Limited to assertively protect their originality.
As such, the result gained for Sukho limited is what IP Protect at Virtuoso Legal is all about. We are delighted and look forward to seeing Zaap’s continued success.”
Virtuoso Legal are a boutique law firm comprised of intellectual property specialists.
The firm has an unmatched level of expertise and experience dealing with intellectual property and commercialisation of ideas.
A big challenge that businesses face comes from understanding, growing and protecting their intangible assets.
In this case, Zaap Restaurants’ unique restaurant dining experience was under threat by infringers – who if not challenged would have benefited from their originality.
Virtuoso Legal are delighted to protect businesses like Zaap Restaurants, and help them continue to build success on the ideas that make them unique.
If you would like to speak to Philip or Lakmal or any one else in our award-winning team, call:
We had a massive uptake on our offer practical GDPR chats with Kirsten and Dr. Martin – who spoke to many of you over the course of the month.
This has been a fantastic exercise in helping us understand the main problems that everyone is facing in getting their GDPR compliance structure in place.
Bearing this in mind, we are now in the process of putting together a GDPR package to help people:
Identify the data flowing in and out of their business
Help update their contracts and legal agreements where necessary
Provide guidance about where consent and information mechanisms are needed and what they should look like
Correctly handle historic databases and bring them up to scratch
Martin is also continuing to put together a bit of a GDPR “mega-post” on our blog with some more info if you’re in need of some clarification (see below).
If you need any help with these compliance activities before the 25th of May let us know by emailing Martin using the button below – and we’ll be in touch with details of our compliance package when it becomes available.
Updates and Blogs from February
February also had a few blogs for you to sink your teeth into – including the first two parts of the aforementioned “mega-post” on GDPR.
GDPR: What Do You Need To Do
General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR): What Do You Need to Do
As previously mentioned, Dr. Martin has been reading deeply into GDPR with a view to create some practical information about what companies actually need to get started with.
Part 1 and 2 of this (I am told to be very long) piece are up and can be found here. Don’t forget, if you need any help with this – we are putting together a package (described above) and would be happy to chat to you about helping you comply.
World of IP: FebruaryUber V Waymo Concludes in Dramatic Fashion
Virtuoso’s World of IP Round UpFebruary 2017
Whilst it was a short working month – February contained some incredibly dramatic IP news around the globe. Principly – the Waymo v. Uber trade secrets case in America settled after two days of incredibly revealing testimonies. For more information about that and much more – click below.
We hope you all had a fantastic Christmas and have taken the bull, that is 2018, well and truly by the horns.
And a bull it very much is!
There are plenty of changes coming in this year, not least GDPR – which looks to profoundly disturb the proverbial “china shop” – for those who aren’t duly prepared.
As always, we’re happy to help you in whatever way we can to prevent any disasters (more on this after the jump).
This newsletter is also packed full of all of the latest and greatest updates from Virtuoso – covering December and January.
Time to get real about GDPR
The General Data Protection Regulation (or GDPR), comes into force on the 25th of May 2018.
GDPR is a significant and comprehensive overhaul of data protection, which places:
more power in the hands of people who have their data collected and processed
a lot more responsibility on businesses who collect and process data
GDPR is something that needs to be addressed by all businesses, big and small.
Proven failure to comply can result in fines of 4% of global yearly income or €20million (whichever is higher).
As a result, companies world-wide are doing what they can to understand and apply GDPR successfully within their business before the deadline.
Virtuoso Legal are no exception to this rule. We have been consuming as much guidance and education on the subject as we can muster.
However, we’ve found that much of the advice on offer today is still a bit “academic”. Whilst it is interesting, it doesn’t give you directly actionable points to undertake. (In fact, often you end up with more questions than answers!)
Being as action-oriented as we are, we decided a more assertive approach might be relevant to you.
For recipients of this newsletter, we’re offering 30-minute practical GDPR consultations* either by phone or Zoom – helping you to quickly:
Understand where GDPR applies in your business, and;
Identify the priority actions you need to undertake
If you are interested in this, send an email to Martin by clicking the link provided below – and we will be in touch to arrange a time to discuss.
*These appointments have proven to be very popular, and there are only a few left which will be distributed on a first-come first-serve basis.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way(!), here’s all of our recent updates and blogs.
5 Things to Look Out for in Intellectual Property in 2018
You already know that GDPR is going to be a massive game-changer (if we haven’t made that clear enough already) – but that’s only the tip of 2018’s iceberg. To help you steer clear of rocky waters, the Virtuoso Legal team outline the main things to look out for in IP this year, and why.
Cosmetics giant Coty recently won a case against one of its sellers, as it sought to stop its products being sold on Amazon. This was seen as a victory for luxury brands, who have been frustrated with the online seller.
I was delighted to be asked to comment in this Forbes article covering the details of the judgement.
In the second in the series of our client spotlights, Dr. Martin spoke to Catherine Handcock from specialist publisher Alfol. Catherine’s company is the brains behind: CreativeHEAD, Layered and many other incredible events and publications for the UK’s top hairdressing talent. They discussed the problems Alfol faced, and how they were able to overcome them with a little help from their friends (us!)
Build Your Brand “Be the first, be the best or be different…”
Loretta Lynn once said: “be the first, be the best, or be different”. It’s a mantra that really strikes a chord when it comes to the world of business – especially when prospects have hundreds of options at their fingertips. Dr. Martin explores how standing out from the crowd make all the difference in 2018.
Why Refer to IP Experts? 4 Times Detail Made the Difference in 2017
Intellectual property is a really unique area of law – in that from the outside it appears so simple; but in reality it’s technical and fast moving. When it comes to IP, detail makes the difference. In this post, Dr. Martin and Lauren Waterman review some of the big cases from 2018 that prove you need an expert.
Virtuoso’s World of IP Round Up | December-January 2018
Finally, the world of IP has kept spinning outside of Virtuoso Legal with tonnes of intellectual property matters in the news. In this bumper edition of the World of IP Round Up, Amazon appear prominently; coinciding with their rise as the world’s most valuable brand and Jeff Bezos’ newly minted status as the world’s richest person. Truly, the link between IP and success grows ever more undeniable…
Without further ado here’s everything from the World of IP that you need to know…
World of IP Round Up: The Big Ones
WIPO study find intangible capital contributes 2x the value to a business’ good in comparison to tangible assets
In a recent bout of research the World Intellectual Property Organisation found that IP added 2x the value of physical assets in contemporary businesses. Though it seems counterintuitive, building brands may be more valuable to your business that building … well … buildings.
Amazon caught selling counterfeit Mercedes-Benz parts – now everything may change.
In the past Amazon have been the subject of brands’ ire as the marketplace has listed counterfeit products. They had avoided blame for this as they had not produced them themselves. However in this latest case, it would appear that second-tier Mercedes-Benz parts had been listed as “sold by Amazon” – resulting in a claim by the automotive giant.
Red Bull refused trade mark for its blue and silver colour pairing
Recently, Red Bull had applied to trade mark the colour combination found on their cans. The combination of blue and silver was something they held to be synonymous with their brand. Regardless, this was not seen to be registerable as a trade mark by the court. Find out why:
Amazon Vs. Coty: luxury brands land a blow on online retail giant
Luxury german cosmetics brand Coty won a case against Amazon recently; allowing it to stop others selling its products on the platform. This was seen as a big win for luxury brands who control over the circumstances in which customers buy their high-end goods – fearing loss of value. Liz Ward was asked to comment by Forbes on this matter – quote within.
Spotify hit with $1.6B Copyright Lawsuit from Wixen Publishing
Music streaming service Spotify were hit with a $1.6billion copyright lawsuit from Wixen Publishing. Wixen accused Spotify of not taking the required steps to ensure that they had licensed their music (including some VL favourites like Tom Petty and The Beach Boys) before putting it on their platform.
Faraday Future claim former CFO stole IP and employees
Waymo v Uber aren’t the only automotive company entering into trade secrets litigation this year… Eclectic electric car manufacturer Faraday Future are suing their ex-CFO for allegedly stealing trade secrets and employees for a new company.
Suggestions that plain packaging might reach the beverage industry, cause $293 billion loss
After the widespread adoption of plain-packaging on cigarettes; rumour has it the sights are now set on sugary and alcoholic beverages. The removal of branding and packaging to these brands is seen to represent a $293billion loss in value.
5 Things to Look Out for in Intellectual Property in 2018: The Times are A-Changin’
2017 was a big year in intellectual property. Whether it was: changes to groundless threats or new certification marks in the EU. Intellectual property moves fast, and a lot can happen in a year.
Crucially, changes such as the above (and below) can be transformative for business’ fortunes worldwide.
2018 looks to be equally, if not more so, packed with significant changes. In no particular order; here are 5 things to look out for in intellectual property in 2018.
5 Things to Look Out for in Intellectual Property in 2018: Changes to European Patents
The Unified Patent Court
When granted, European patents are enforced in 38 countries (including all those in the EU). For inventive businesses, registration of European patents is critical to business success. (In the past, along with trade marks, the registration of patents has been correlated with business success.)
Despite this, registering a patent in Europe has been technically demanding and often very expensive. The cause of this has been a convoluted process of registration overseen by the EPO (European Patent Office). This process often includes the need to translate the application into multiple languages. Furthermore, defending a patent over a range of different countries is not uncommon – due to a lack of centralisation. As such, the patent process draws out over a length of time and requires specialist expertise and representation across the continent.
This can often be a painful barrier for entry for emerging businesses looking to protect their inventions.
The UPC was proposed as a solution to this frustrations – unifying registration and litigation in a single court, and with a single process.
Whilst proposed in and agreed in principle by member states on February 2013, the process of founding the court goes on and is set for critical decisions in 2018.
“The UPC is, quite rightly, an important and necessary step when it comes to patent protection in Europe. It is however, also a significant undertaking on the part of member countries; as such it will be encouraging to see some solid movement toward implementation this year. Crucially, the registration of patents has proven to be directly linked to the fortunes of top businesses worldwide. The swift implementation of the UPC will be an incredible boost for European businesses (and those around the globe) in increasing their capacity for inventive ingenuity – and the profits that come as a result.”
5 Things to Look Out for in Intellectual Property in 2018: More Protection for Trade Secrets
The EU Trade Secrets Directive
Perhaps not as prominent in the minds of legal eagles on account of GDPR and Brexit – the next significant transformation is on the horizon in the form of the EU Trade Secrets Directive.
Similarly to the UPC, the EU Trade Secrets Directive is an effort to harmonise enforcement legislation helping business protect their business critical information across the continent.
Most businesses rely on certain special information or expertise to be successful. However, it is not possible to protect this information with traditional intellectual property rights; like a patent of trade mark. But it is equally important to that these secrets are kept secret from competitors and the wider public. Businesses are often at risk of this information escaping (e.g. via an ex-employee or data breach).
An example of a trade secret is the formula for Coca-Cola. Whilst many people over the years have reverse engineered the soda’s recipe – the information has been kept as a trade secret, protecting it from exploitation in the wider industry. In this way, Coca-Cola’s core asset is protected from theft from the wider industry by a proportionate legal framework.
For many businesses trade secrets might take the form of: business roadmaps, supplier and client lists – to name a few. Often misunderstood and undervalued, trade secrets are also often the most widely infringed, and can cause the most damage to businesses. In the past, we hosted a VirtuosoCAST podcast on trade secrets with Donal O’Connell, which offers a range of insight into the current state of play. Time and again breach of trade secrets has been proven to put businesses at risk of serious damage.
A current example of trade secrets litigation in the US is the prominent Waymo v. Uber case – wherein a Waymo employee left with a range of information to found a business that was quickly acquired by Uber. Uber then utilized this individual in their innovation at a time when they made steps toward the top of the industry. Waymo are suing Uber for $2.6 Billion in damages as a result.
With such high-profile cases and quanta of damage occurring – more stringent trade secrets regulation has come into the fore to protect businesses. In the US this occurred in the form of the Defend Trade Secrets Act in 2016. This was an incredibly robust piece of legislation that was notable in its extra-territorial scope; reflecting the global nature of modern businesses.
Europe follows this year with it’s own, much more robust legislation in the form of the EU Trade Secrets Directive, that has similar “teeth”.
The EU Trade Secrets Directive comes into force in June 2018. As a directive, rather than a regulation it is binding and comes into force across the EU (including the UK) in June 2018. The question is, however – will the UK comply fully with the directive, given the short time between then and Brexit?
Over the past few years it has become abundantly clear that trade secrets are incredibly undervalued by businesses. Too many instances have occurred recently of businesses losing out when proprietary knowledge walks out the door with an ex-employee or a breach of information. Rightly, the US (where much of the marquee litigation has occurred) has taken a stance on this with the Defend Trade Secrets Act in 2016. With the international scope of business in this day and age, naturally it follows that the EU would seek to bolster protection for businesses within its jurisdiction. Regardless, the interesting point here is the extent to which the UK will administer these strengthened rights for its citizenry – and if not, the extent to which this impacts businesses at home.”
5 Things to Look Out for in Intellectual Property in 2018: GDPR
Whilst not Intellectual Property per sé, GDPR becoming enforced this year marks the most significant change in data protection in recent times. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) remains a cause of anxiety and uncertainty. The “G” word (like Brexit which we’ll get to later) is a unilateral change that will affect every business in Europe – and have significant impact further afield…
GDPR is a reaction to the growing significance of data collection and use in business. The regulation sets out to curb a concerning situation that exists currently. Namely, data subjects sharing their personal information with businesses being akin to opening Pandora’s Box (as far as data protection is concerned). Once shared with businesses data subjects are often shocked to find it is redistributed or used for things that they had not explicitly agreed to – and that they’re unable to “undo” any of this.
This has been especially concerning for litigators on account of repeated large-scale data breaches (e.g. Equifax) and the increasing sophistication of hackers. GDPR addresses these concerns by setting out to:
“harmonize data privacy laws across Europe”.
“protect and empower all EU citizens data privacy”
“reshape the way organizations across the region approach data privacy.”
Note: whilst the UK is set to leave the EU, it has ratified GDPR which goes into effect on May 25th, 2018.
GDPR sets out provisions empowering data subjects. This includes several rights including:
to “access”: ability to find out if personal data is being processed and for what purpose
to “be forgotten” – ability to demand deletion of data and halt its further dissemination
to “data portability” – ability to receive personal data from a company and where relevant transmit it to another
GDPR also profoundly increases the responsibilities of data holding businesses:
Increased territorial scope – GDPR protects EU data subjects world-wide. Businesses outside the EU and UK still have to abide by the legislation
Consent – conditions of consent are much stronger. Data subjects must give informed consent at each distinct instance of data usage in a clear an intelligible manner. This means explicit informed consent and no more “hidden” or obtuse Ts&Cs
Breach notification – Companies have to notify the regulatory body within 72 hours of finding out that there has been a data breach. Companies must also notify data subjects of a breach “without undue delay”
Privacy by design – data systems should be created and administered with privacy as the core aim
Data protection officers – larger businesses are required to appoint a DPO to administer these systems and compliance
GDPR has arisen as a key consequence of the rising importance of data in business. Many of the today’s largest businesses are built on collecting and leveraging user data. In addition, recently there have been large-scale breaches that have rightly concerned regulators. These breaches have serious consequences for data subjects – who are put at risk of crime. Whilst GDPR is an intimidating piece of legislation – it is a proportionate response to the increasing role of data technology in businesses; and the need to represent ordinary people like you and me fairly within these systems.”
GDPR compliance and protecting data subjects’ information will be a big theme across businesses this year. In the coming weeks we will provide much more in-depth coverage on GDPR – so watch this space!
5 Things to Look Out for in Intellectual Property in 2018: Soon You Can Netflix and Chill Across the EU
EU Portability Regulation
Another interesting piece of legislation that comes into force this year is the EU Portability Regulation.
Devices like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video’s have an increasing market share in personal entertainment.
However, users find they have difficulty when they go abroad into different jurisdictions in accessing these services.
The EU Portability Regulation sets out to allow EU citizens to continue to access their services even when outside their country of origin. The underlying cause of this is the jurisdiction copyright across the EU as it stands – and adapting this in a manner that reflects modern use of copyrighted material. Subscription services must make steps to provide subscribers with material across the EU; and copyright holders should be aware that if they license their material that it will be lawful for users to access their material across member states (if subscribers are visiting for a limited time).
As it stands, the UK has entered a consultation which is determining how to implement and enforceme of the Portability Regulation – regardless of Brexit.
Over the past few years entertainment has become on-demand by default – with most people expecting to be able to access the content they want when it’s convenient for them. Netflix binges aside – changes like these present a challenge for legislators who need to put the frameworks in place for citizens to operate in a manner they see as normal.”
The EU portability Regulation comes into force as of the 1st of April 2018.
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