The Government first announced plans for a shared ownership right to buy in October 2019. At the time the sector raised concerns about the impact the plans would have on housing associations ability to borrow. An election and a pandemic later the Government announced, during the CIH Housing Festival last week, the return of the right to shared ownership as part of its Affordable Homes Programme (AHP).
Your brand is one of your most important assets. It is not just your trading name, but also the “look and feel” of your business – it is the way customers identify with what you do and part of the personality that attracts them to it. Brand misuse can be particularly damaging in situations where someone working under your brand provides an inferior service, or has a way of doing business that conflicts with standards set by the brand owner. The customer associates the sub-standard experience or conflicting ethos with you and your business, resulting in a loss of customer loyalty that could take years to retrieve.
In the UK, it is possible for brand owners to rely on a range of intellectual property rights to protect different elements of their brand, including copyright protection in logos, short pieces of music, packaging or labels, registered or unregistered design rights in different design aspects, patents in inventive products and domain name protection. However, the most common and effective form of brand protection is provided through the UK system of trade mark registration. Trade marks cover not only pure text, but can include any distinctive colour, typeface, font, stylisation and any incorporated images or logos.
A registered trade mark provides you with an exclusive right to use the registered name or logo in relation to the relevant services. This means you can prevent anyone using the same or a similar name in the same or similar line of business. An important feature of trade mark infringement is that in a straightforward case, you don’t have to show that the use of your mark caused any confusion to the public and so a claim will often be cheaper and easier to pursue.
Unregistered trade marks can be protected via a court claim for “passing off”, which requires that:
your business has acquired “goodwill” (a brand that is worth something) or a reputation in the market and is known by distinguishing features
someone misrepresents (whether or not intentionally) that goods or services offered by them are yours
you will, or are likely to suffer, damage as a result of this misrepresentation.
In contrast to trade mark infringement, a key element of a passing off action is to show there is a likelihood of confusion within the relevant sector of the public.
Intellectual property rights are territorial in nature and only provide protection in the jurisdiction in which they are created or registered. It is therefore advisable to check the protection available in each country before any brand launch outside the UK. There is nevertheless a drive towards global harmonisation of Intellectual Property Rights; it is already possible to secure some rights (such as trade marks and patents) across Europe and worldwide and some countries, after compliance with local requirements, may even agree to extend existing UK rights within their jurisdiction.
Finally, if you are setting up a new business, you need to take care (and do some investigation) to avoid adopting a style that is reminiscent of a popular brand in your area of activity, or a mark that is identical/similar to a registered trade mark. “Imitation being the sincerest form of flattery” is unlikely to hold much sway with the brand owner.
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Two final pieces of the possession jigsaw have been published on 15 September 2020. Mr Justice Knowles’ working group on possession proceedings has issued its guidance on the “overall arrangements” for possession proceedings.
One change proposed by the Building Safety Bill is the introduction of a duty holder regime, which will see statutory responsibility for the safety of higher risk buildings placed on key individuals
Throughout this pandemic, the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has been publishing various “Statements on Coronavirus” (Statements) which provide guidance on consumer rights during this time.
A recent increase in COVID-19 cases in the UK means new measures are being put in place in an effort to reduce the risk of a second wave. Whilst the impact of COVID-19 continues to be felt, it is important to remain focused on the sector’s road to recovery.
Sometimes half an hour at a conference gives you the reality that has been staring you in the face all along. That was my experience watching “Change is on the Horizon”
Following our recent e-briefing on Possession Notices, Helen Tucker and Emilie Pownall from our housing litigation team discuss the impact of the changes on social landlords.
Not only has the possession stay been extended until 20 September, the notice periods to be given to tenants has been extended in certain circumstances with some important exceptions.
The Court has confirmed that a party cannot withhold its consent in order to re-write the original bargain.
Following the Grenfell Tower tragedy, building safety continues to be a key concern for social housing providers and their residents.
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