A reformed approach to threats

By David Parrish and Melanie Eggers

UK legislation contains special provisions relating to groundless threats of infringement proceedings. It has long been thought the rules are too favourable to (alleged) infringers. The UK Law Commission has now published its final report and recommendations on reforming the threats regime.

Threats provisions apply to patents, UK and Community trademarks, UK registered designs, UK design right, registered Community designs and unregistered Community designs.

The claimant in a threats action (i.e. the recipient of threats) can seek a declaration that the threats were unjustified, an injunction to prevent further threats and damages. The threats provisions are intended to strike a balance between allowing rights owners legitimately to enforce their rights and preventing rights owners from making dubious infringement allegations — particularly against a competitor’s distributors and customers…

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