Haseltine Lake responds to UK Government consultation on groundless threats of IP infringement

26 July 2013

The Law Commission has sought views on the reform of the law of groundless threats - the provisions of UK law whereby businesses that have been threatened unjustifiably with a claim for infringement of a relevant IP right can sue for the damage caused to their business by the threat.

A main concern with the existing law is that it is in some respects too narrow and can be avoided by careful wording of letters. The provisions are also inconsistent between different IP rights. A result can be that the provisions simply catch the unwary but do not assist responsible discussion of IP infringement issues between businesses. They also apply to letters issued by professional advisers, and thus can act as a deterrent to observance of the principles of modern civil litigation whereby parties are required at an early stage to provide each other with sufficient information to be enable them to understand the other’s case or to settle disputes without recourse to litigation.

Haseltine Lake’s litigation team have provided the Law Commission with a response to the specific questions raised in its consultation paper. In summary, we have presented reasons why in our opinion the threats regime ought to be retained but reformed and adapted for modern purposes, with specific suggestions for improvement.

The consultation closed on 17 July 2013 and a report with recommendations to Government will be published in spring 2014.

Further information about the consultation can be found on the Law Commission’s web site here.


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