SMEs attempting to enforce their intellectual property are inadvertently setting themselves up for costly legal battles, according to a small business lawyer.
Progressive Legal founder Ian Aldridge has told My Business that intellectual property (IP) protection is rapidly rising in prominence as a common legal for SMEs, but most business owners are unsure of how to go about raising a dispute.
“A lot of businesses and people get into disputes over a matter of principle, and find themselves in a battle that once they start - unless you have the resolution of both parties to resolve or a court decides that it is resolved - once you start that process, it’s extremely hard to negotiate out of,” he says.
Mr Aldridge notes one of the main dangers for business owners is to try and resolve a dispute without first seeking appropriate legal advice, as this usually escalates the problem rather than resolving it.
“I think there’s always a danger in businesses going and confronting other businesses straight away without getting legal advice first. Even as a lawyer, myself, I get advice – and we’ve had some online defamation issues. Before confronting the individual myself, I’ve sought advice,” he says.
“So it’s not something that I’m saying just because [I’m a lawyer] … I practice it myself, because we can all get caught up in the heat of the moment very easily.”
Mr Aldridge adds that anyone who believes their IP has been breached should first preserve as much evidence as possible, before seeking out specialist advice.
“Number one hands down is you’ve got to preserve the evidence – a screenshot … showing the date of publication, potentially even the number of views and comments,” he says.
“Think like a judge, or someone presiding over this” about what proof they would want to see.
Adam Zuchetti is the editor of My Business, and has steered the publication’s editorial direction since early 2016.