Internet Trading - Protecting Your Ideas

How can you protect your products or ideas when trading online?

With the growth of internet shopping it is becoming increasingly important to monitor what competitors are doing online to check that they are not 'hi-jacking' your sales. Unscrupulous sellers on E-bay and Amazon can copy your ideas or products and market them as if they were selling your product. This is illegal but can be difficult to deal with, especially if it has taken you a while to realise it has happened.

If you think someone is selling products as if they were yours, or in a way that may confuse customers, then you need to react quickly to get it stopped before you lose too much. You can also lose the right to certain remedies such as an injunction if you delay.

E-Bay and Amazon will usually take action to stop marketing that is unfair but if you do not get what you want from them, or if the seller is persistent, a forceful solicitor’s letter to the seller, copied and e-mailed to E-Bay or Amazon, can be very effective.

Some people worry that they do not have a registered trade mark or similar protection but copyright exists automatically when original material is created. Similarly, if you do not have a registered trade mark you may still be able to take action against a competitor who passes your product or idea off as their own.

If you are venturing into online sales yourself do take time to look around the internet to make sure you are not placing yourself at risk of receiving a complaint because you are infringing someone else’s rights. Re-branding can be an expensive process so avoiding the risk is worthwhile.

For more information on protecting your business from online threats and related commercial matters contact partner and head of the commercial department, Gillian Jones


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