Lincoln office

01522 801111
LOVEN Patents & Trademarks
51 Wragby Road
Sudbrooke
LINCOLN
LN2 2QU
United Kingdom

Hull office

01482 236777
LOVEN Patents & Trademarks
Hesslewood Hall Business Centre
Ferriby Road,
Hessle
HULL, HU13 0LH
United Kingdom

Peterborough office

01733 889444
LOVEN Patents & Trademarks
Asset House
Thorpe Wood Business Park
26-28 Thorpe Wood
PETERBOROUGH, PE3 6SR
United Kingdom

The Perils of On-Line Selling

We have had several examples recently of small traders selling online and then suddenly finding their eBay, Etsy or Amazon shop shut down because another party claims that the products infringe their rights. This can arise when the small trader buys in products from China without checking to see if the products are the subject of third-party rights. The Chinese supplier will, of course, give assurances that these are “genuine products” that do not infringe any rights, but they are generally not the ones that face any legal consequences. In some cases, we have had to advise the small trader that the third-party rights appear valid and infringed and that they should therefore drop the product concerned.

But a huge problem for the small trader is that the big on-line marketplaces are generally owned and run by corporations that are not based in the UK and are not generally interested in becoming involved in disputes over IP rights. Someone claiming that they own rights that are infringed by the sale of products by the small trader can generally request the marketplace to block the sales by the small trader by just producing details of the registration. The marketplace company will just remove the product listing from its site and take the line that it is up to the small trader to persuade the rights owner to withdraw its objection.

This is a big problem for a small trader. In a recent example, the small trader was selling only in the UK and a business representing a US rights owner had the products blocked from the marketplace site on the basis of a US Design patent. When the small trader pointed out that there was no equivalent protection in the UK and that the products were only offered in the UK market, the marketplace company refused to budge.

Marketplaces such as eBay, Amazon and Etsy provide access to potentially huge markets for small traders and this can seem to be a very attractive proposition. But there are risks in relying solely on these markets. Traders should seek professional advice before launching a product, especially where it is sourced from outside the UK.

Of course, if the small trader creates its own products, it can use the system to stop others selling copies. Registering original designs would provide a basis for this. If you are trading in products on-line, seek advice now before any problems arise. Call us on 01522 801111 or send us an enquiry.

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Without an attorney to handle the complex legal and technical issues involved in obtaining good patent and trademark protection, you are very likely to end up with something too narrow in its scope and therefore easy to get round. Trying to save money on a patent or trademark application can prove to be costly down the line. Looking to protect your designs, brand or inventions the right way? Call us today:
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