Intellectual Property

We specialise in assisting individuals, businesses, charities and public sector bodies in protecting, defending and exploiting their inventions, ideas, designs, creative works, trade marks and brands, both in the UK and overseas, so that they can benefit from their own work and investment.

Our experience covers a very wide range of different industries and sectors.  We are recognised as having particular expertise in international trade mark portfolio management, intellectual property transactional work, technology sector work and intellectual property disputes.    

We provide commercially sound advice, delivering common sense as well as technical expertise. Our approach is straightforward: "Our clients' interests are our interests". This runs through everything we do.


Relevant Work

  • Managing the world-wide trade mark portfolios of two famous fragrance houses. This includes clearing, filing, prosecuting, renewing, defending and enforcing hundreds of trade marks across the globe.
  • Negotiating a world-wide trade mark co-existence agreement between a famous clothing designer and a third party business using a similar trade mark.  
  • Acting for one of the world's leading generic pharmaceutical companies in respect of Court proceedings concerning a contractual dispute relating to a pharmaceutical licensing and supply agreement.
  • Drafting complex IP licensing and supply arrangements for a University, in respect of certain lactic acid bacteria technology.
  • Advising a manufacturer and supplier of foodstuffs as to whether the manufacturing process for a new product line infringes patent rights belonging to a third party and whether such rights are valid.
  • Acting for a client in respect of an overseas intellectual property dispute between the client, an international distributor of the client's products and a world famous sporting team and their world famous marketing agents.

Their advice is of the highest quality

Chambers & Partners Guide to the Legal Profession 2015 

A formidable IP team: they are extraordinarily responsive, they have a high respect for customer service and they give practical advice.

Chambers & Partners Guide to the Legal Profession 2016 


SOFA case shows that Community trade marks need to be used in more than one country to prevent them being revoked

A decision of the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court has confirmed that, in most cases, unless a Community trade mark is used in more than one EU country it will be vulnerable to revocation on the ground of non-use.

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A change to the law governing registered designs

After consultation, the UK Government has decided to change the law to make it easier for businesses to enforce their registered designs.

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Practical Tips for Trade Mark Owners

Carl Steele, Head of Trade Marks at Ashfords, shares some of his wisdom.

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Why overseas brands need to be registered in the UK

A recent case, heard before the highest court in the UK, has demonstrated why overseas brand owners need to register their brands in the UK.

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Louis Vuitton's chequerboard pattern Community trade mark cancelled

The General Court has decided that Louis Vuitton's Community trade mark for a chequerboard pattern should be cancelled, due to it being seen as a mere decorative feature and not as indicating the trade source of goods bearing it. In an appeal before the General Court, Louis Vuitton recently attempted (unsuccessfully) to retain its Community trade mark registration for the following mark, for various goods in class 18, including bags, luggage, wallets and purses.

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SKYPE fail to register Community trade mark

Under Community trade mark law, when OHIM assesses the likelihood of confusion between two marks, it considers the issue as at the date of filing of a Community trade mark application, rather than at the date of the final hearing of the case (which could be years later).

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No CLUBCARD Points For Tesco

Readers may be interested to learn that Tesco has failed in its attempt to register the word mark CLUBCARD and the following logo as UK trade marks, for goods and services relating to loyalty schemes.

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Interflora -V- Marks & Spencer AdWords Case Goes to Retrial

Readers may recall that since 2008 Interflora has been engaged in legal proceedings against Marks & Spencer, concerning the latter's activity of bidding on the word "Interflora" via Google's AdWords service.

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Innocent Drinks win "Dude" case

Last week's Court decision in the Innocent smoothies drinks dispute highlights (once again) the importance of clearly stating in contracts with third party designers who owns the IP rights in what they create.

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Thomas Pink In The Pink

For those that don't know, Thomas Pink asserted that the use of the stylised mark PINK, in connection with the sale and retailing of women's casual clothing and accessories by Victoria's Secret, infringed Thomas Pink's registered trade mark rights in respect of its logo marks for the word PINK.

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Need To Know: Protecting your pitch

Ashfords' Chairman Mark Lomas, Head of IP Law and part of Ashfords Technology Sector Group, discusses in TechSPARK, when pitching an idea to potential investors, and business partners what are the best ways to protect your idea.

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Intellectual Property Disputes

We specialise in advising clients on enforcing, protecting and defending their intellectual property rights, in whatever form they may take. In particular, we have a significant amount of experience in handling brand and trade mark disputes.

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Intellectual Property Audits

Understanding what intellectual property you use, who owns it, how to protect it, the risks faced by using it and what you can do with it is important to the running any modern business. Our team can help you with this process. Similarly, we can help you to identify and risk assess the intellectual property owned and used by a business that you wish to buy or invest in.

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Our IT lawyers have a strong understanding of the sector and the commercial issues surrounding it. We work with a wide variety of clients to ensure IT projects are properly managed and contractual requirements are reflected. A number of our lawyers have spent much of their careers in the IT sector and so are able to offer pragmatic, cost-effective solutions for any project.

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Climbing case highlights need for clear agreement as to who owns IP rights in commissioned logo design

Judge Hacon's judgment reminds businesses of the need for written contractual certainty when commissioning independent third party designers.

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Cycling case highlights need to consider 'notional and fair use' of a registered trade mark

Court of Appeal confirms that, when assessing allegations of registered trade mark infringement, a Court should consider not just how the trade mark owner has used its mark, but also notional and fair (hypothetical) use of the mark in relation to all of the goods or services in respect of which it is registered.

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The 'likelihood of confusion' conundrum

The decision in Whyte and Mackay Limited v Origin Wine UK Limited & Anor [2015] EWHC 1271 (Ch) has helped to clarify the law concerning the registration of trade marks that incorporate within them an earlier registered trade mark.

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The difficulty in registering a shape mark

In Voss of Norway ASA v OHIM [2013] Case T-178-11, the EU General Court found invalid Voss' registration as a Community trade mark of the three-dimensional shape of its bottles. Voss is a brand of premium bottled water, originating in Norway. In 2004, Voss obtained a Community trade mark registration for the three-dimensional shape of its bottles, covering alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages (including water).

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A Shadowy Community trade mark dispute

The case of Chair Entertainment Group LLC v OHIM [2014] Case T-717/13 demonstrates the challenges trade mark advisors face when advising clients as to the likelihood of confusion between two trade marks.

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Misguided Facebook Posts - Who owns what on your Facebook account?

Over the past couple of weeks, we have noticed that a number of Facebook users have been posting the following on their newsfeeds

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Brands and confidential information - It's easy to forget that brands aren't just about trade marks

The recipe for Coca-Cola is (arguably) one of the world's most famous trade secrets. Although it is now apparently housed in the Vault of the Secret Formula at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, its history is the subject of many outlandish urban myths (see, for example, here). The recipe itself is, of course, not on public display and its content remains a closely guarded secret.

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Specsavers Wordless Logo Mark Held to be Valid

Specsavers has managed, on appeal, to uphold the validity of its following wordless logo mark (which appears in black, but is registered without any colour limitation and so is registered in respect of all colours), despite the fact that they have never used it on its own in trade in the UK.

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Trade Mark Surveys Live On

Since the Interflora v Marks & Spencer trade mark case last year, certain trade mark advisers have taken the view that the English Courts will no longer allow survey evidence to be adduced in trade mark infringement cases, except in very exceptional circumstances.

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Protecting Your Perfume's IP

You launch a new perfume. Its sales outdo all expectations. Then you receive a call from your marketing team. They've come across a rival perfume. It's got a similar (but not identical) name, packaging which mirrors yours and is being advertised as a 'smell-alike' version of your perfume. What can you do? How do you avoid a similar situation for your next perfume?

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Eat, Drink, Innovate and Protect

If you operate a business in the food and drink sector, how well do you score when it comes to understanding and protecting your intellectual property (IP) rights?

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Intellectual property infringement: civil procedure isn’t the only option

Far from an uncertain path, the UK criminal courts can be a swift and viable route in some IP cases, say Jeremy Asher, Giles Lane and Jennifer Guild.

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Intellectual Property Agreements and Transactions

We specialise in drafting intellectual property related agreements and advising clients engaged in transactions that involve intellectual property rights.

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Mark Lomas Redux

Chairman and Head of Intellectual Property
+44 (0)1392 333951

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