"Touchstone: A basalt or slate rock used for assaying precious metals. Before accurate analysis was possible gold and silver was struck against the touchstone to test for quality against a known standard."
Q.1 I designed a logo for my old employer and now he wants me to stop using it on my on-line CV. He says it is breach of copyright.
A.1. If you are employed and you create something as part of that employment that has intellectual property vested in it (like a document or design) then the output of your labours is more than likely going to belong to your employer. Your employer then has the exclusive right to reproduce the work. You have a good defence to infringing copyright by using the fact that you designed the logo within your C.V.(rather than using the logo itself). Conversely you may have the right to be identified as the author of the logo if you have not waived your Moral Rights. Your contract of employment would have to be checked. If you were engaged as a consultant (rather than as an employee) you may still retain ownership of copyright (check your contract of engagement) but the employer may have a right to use the logo without referring back to you.
Q.2 We have a registered trademark but have discovered someone else using a domain name for their website which is very similar to our mark.
A.2 First answer the following questions: Are their goods/services similar (the same as) yours? Do they trade in the same countries in which your mark registered? If the answer is yes to both the questions then a “cease and desist” letter usually brings the matter to a head and resolution can follow. You may have to go through the process of arbitration to transfer the domain name to your ownership or take them to court. If your name isn’t registered but you have been using it for some time the process is more onerous and costly to pursue and you should contact your legal advisors as soon as possible, delay could prohibit recovery.
Q.3 We have agreed to distribute goods for a foreign company using our extensive knowledge of the UK market. They have sent us a letter of engagement, is it OK to sign?
A.3 Are you going to be a distributor (where you buy the goods and sell them on to the UK market) or an agent where you negotiate sales of the goods? Very different terms need to be negotiated and drafted for these types of arrangement. Specific rules apply to agency arrangements within Europe, which need to be considered before signature. If there are any restrictions on post contractual activities again careful consideration needs to take place of the consequences. Any attempt to restrict sales prices needs to be reviewed with an eye on anti competition rules.
Q.4 Our terms of trade are on our website but one of our customers says she didn’t read them and wants her money back, even though the goods are perfectly OK.
A.4 Are you aware of the Distance Selling Regulations? Did you comply with these provisions? Were your terms of trade brought to the attention of the purchaser before an order was accepted? Do you provide for a click box “I accept your terms of trade” before a sale can be concluded on your website? If the answers are all yes then you can rely on your terms of trade regarding returns and refunds.
Q.5 I have received a notice from a company in Belgium saying that our Community Trade Mark is due for renewal next year. They have said they will renew it for us as soon as we pay a set fee. Should we send them a cheque?
A.5 Probably not. There are many reports of companies trying to “hijack” trade mark renewals. They will (in all likelihood) renew your mark for you but at a higher cost than necessary. If you used an agent first time around they will contact you again in plenty of time for renewal. If you registered the mark yourselves in the first place then you may wish to undertake the renewal process yourselves. It is always better to use one agency/law firm to manage all your trademarks so that you have a consistent approach to IP portfolio management.