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Case law: Sole directors presumed jointly liable for infringement of trade mark by their company

Directors should ensure they monitor their company's activities for acts that might amount to infringement of someone else's trade mark (or other intellectual property) as they are usually personally liable, jointly with their company, for any such infringement.

Legal Alert

This update was published in Legal Alert - June 2016

Legal Alert is a monthly checklist from Atom Content Marketing highlighting new and pending laws, regulations, codes of practice and rulings that could have an impact on your business.

A trade mark owner took legal action against a company with a sole director which had been infringing their trade mark. The owner also claimed compensation from the sole director, claiming he was jointly liable with his company.

The Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) ruled that the sole director was jointly liable. It said there was a presumption that acts by a limited company with a sole director were done at the director's 'exclusive instigation' unless evidence was produced that the director had not knowingly participated in or controlled the acts that constituted the infringement – which would usually be a difficult test to satisfy.

Operative date

  • Now

Recommendations

  • Directors should ensure they monitor their company's activities for acts that might amount to infringement of someone else's trade mark (or other intellectual property) as they are usually personally liable for any such infringement, jointly with their company.

Case ref: Grenade (UK) Ltd v Grenade Energy Ltd and another [2016] EWHC 877 (IPEC)

Disclaimer: This article from Atom Content Marketing is for general guidance only, for businesses in the United Kingdom governed by the laws of England. Atom Content Marketing, expert contributors and ICAEW (as distributor) disclaim all liability for any errors or omissions.

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