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Disputes Over IP Ownership Rights

Both are widely used Intellectual Property (“IP”) terminology and both are also used interchangeably from time to time, however, there is a difference between the two.

‘Copyright’ is often a tool used to protect literary or artistic work i.e. books or videos; whereas ‘trademarks’ are primarily used to protect brand identity i.e. logos.

Ownership rights

Ascertaining copyright and/or trademark identity is important for various reasons, but is essential to avoiding large legal fiascos.

Determining who owns the work subject to a copyright is the first step. As such, the creator or the author of the work is the first owner of any copyright. This means that if someone is commissioned to create a trademark by a company or an individual, then the trademark belongs to the company/individual who created it, not the commissioner.

IP in practice

The ‘INNOCENT’ case (Fresh Trading Ltd v Deepend Fresh Recovery Ltd and another [2015] EWHC 52 (Ch)) highlights the all-too-familiar dispute over IP ownership rights.

The dispute rested on whether the business (“Fresh Trading”) owned the IP rights to the brand INNOCENT although the design agency (“Deepend”) created all of the design work for the brand by way of agreement. In 2001, Deepend went into liquidation and shortly before the close of the liquidation period in 2009; Deepend’s interest in the copyright works was raised. However, the actual agreement was called into question, as neither party was able to evidence a hardcopy of it. For various reasons, the High Court found in the favour of Fresh Trading and granted Fresh Trading a declaration as the owner of copyright in its main brand logo.

Protecting your right

It may not be something we think about on a daily basis, but protecting trademarks are crucial not just to securing a company’s image in the market, but also in maintaining a company’s position against its competitors and eliminating any plagiarism or unfair gain from those who take original ideas from others.

For further information, please contact Dominic Green on 020 7227 7411 or


This briefing is for guidance purposes only. RadcliffesLeBrasseur LLP accepts no responsibility or liability whatsoever for any action taken or not taken in relation to this note and recommends that appropriate legal advice be taken having regard to a client's own particular circumstances.