You must avoid infringing other people's intellectual property (IP). If you infringe someone's IP the owner can take legal action against you. This can result in injunctions against you, along with orders to pay high costs and damages.
In some cases, infringers can even be found guilty of a criminal offence and be given a prison sentence or an unlimited fine.
Carrying out IP searches
It's a good idea to carry out searches to check you're not committing IP infringement. If you're planning to use a sign you should carry out a full trade mark search - find out how to search for trade marks.
You should also check with Companies House to ensure no one else is using your proposed trade mark as their company name.
Trade mark search
It is possible to register a trade mark that is the same as or similar to an existing trade mark, providing the owner of the earlier mark does not oppose the new application. However, it is still worth checking that no one has registered the same or a similar trade mark before you make your application. Read more about the benefits of trade mark registration.
If you want to make, use, sell or import someone's invention or goods, you should carry out a full patent search and design search. You should also do a search if you're considering applying for your own patent. See how to get patent protection for your business and design right and registration.
If you want to use original creative work you should find out whether it is covered by copyright. Read about copyright for your business.
Infringing someone else's rights could be costly, so it is worth getting professional help from a trade mark or patent attorney.
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