World Intellectual Property Organization

How do you Enforce the Intellectual Property Rights of Your SME?

It is always useful and often necessary to seek expert advice once you have established that someone is infringing your IP rights.

In order to avoid tying up the limited financial and human resources of your SME in formal proceedings, once you have found out that someone is infringing the IP rights of your SME, you should first think of sending a letter (commonly known as “cease and desist letter”) to the alleged infringer informing him/her of the possible existence of a conflict between the IP rights of your SME and his/her business activity (identifying exact area of conflict) and suggest that a possible solution to the problem be discussed.

It is advisable to seek the assistance of an attorney when one writes such a “cease and desist” letter in order to avoid court proceedings initiated by the alleged infringer protesting that no infringement has taken place or is imminent. This procedure is often effective in the case of non-intentional infringement since the infringer will in most such cases either discontinue his activities or agree to negotiate a licensing agreement. 

When you are faced with intentional infringement, including, in particular, counterfeiting and piracy, you are well advised to seek the assistance of law enforcement authorities to surprise the infringer at his/her business premises in order to prevent an infringement and to preserve relevant evidence in regard to the alleged infringement. Furthermore, the infringer may be compelled by the competent judicial authorities to inform you of the identity of third persons involved in the production and distribution of the infringing goods or services and their channels of distribution. As an effective deterrent to infringement, the judicial authorities may order, upon request of your SME, that infringing goods be destroyed or disposed of outside the channels of commerce without compensation of any sort.

If you consider it in your interests to avoid court proceedings, you may consider making use of available alternative dispute mechanisms such as arbitration or mediation (see “Arbitration and Mediation”).

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