Have you received a warning letter? Or are you the victim of a customs seizure or restraining order?
Warning letters, restraining orders and customs seizures are usual methods IP right holders use to stop infringers from violating their patents, trademarks & designs. For example, such an infringement can happen if you illegally use a (part of a) registered brand or if you offer products at fairs which are already protected with a patent or utility model in Europe. The situation is especially hazardous if you plan to sell such products on the European market.
But even considering the many steps IP rights holders can take, you as a potential infringer should exploit all possibilities to protect yourself against unfair or even unlawful actions. The best way is to work closely with a specialized attorney on your individual problem.
Have you received a warning letter? Or has a restraining order been issued against you?
Infringements of patents or brands can result in serious damages for the rights holder’s reputation and revenue. Of course he or she will want to protect his company and stop any infringements.
- A warning letter is the very first step to confront the potential infringer
- A restraining order might follow if you don’t react to the warning letter in the way the rights holder has intended, i.e. by signing a cease-and-desist declaration
In any case, take warnings and injunctions seriously! To ignore these can become very costly and further worsen the situation. Nonetheless you shouldn’t react to hasty, e.g. by revealing too much information at the wrong moment – These information might later be used against you.
Have customs authorities seized your products at the borders or at the fair?
European and German customs authorities can retain goods which are suspected of infringing registered patents, trademarks or designs at the borders or at the fair.
- Customs authorities inform the holder of the potentially infringed IP right about their discovery and define a certain time period mandatory for any reaction
- The rights holder can now react to the discovery, for example by initiating legal proceedings or by applying for the goods’ destruction
What can you do in such a situation? The destruction of your goods isn’t imperative – You can file an objection within the time period which customs defined.
But remember that filing an objection is always followed by legal steps. Make sure you are in contact with a specialized attorney who is experienced with defending clients against the enforcement of IP rights. He or she will help you clarify the situation and plan the next steps.
Better be safe than sorry
Sometimes infringements only happen because infringers haven’t acted carefully and thoroughly enough during the application process of their own IP.
Should you plan to apply for a patent or to register a trademark in the near future we’ll gladly conduct all necessary researches on already registered IP, respectively on the state of the art.
In this way we also shield you against opposition and nullity proceedings, which might arise even after your IP right has already been granted. In opposition and nullity proceedings the novelty of a patent, trademark or design can be challenged by third parties which might lead to the revocation of your IP right.