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How to keep out of court

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Jane Lambert

In Ungar v Sugg (1899) 9 RPC 117 Lord Esher MR said:
"A man had better have his patent infringed, or have anything happen to him in this world, short of losing all his family by influenza, than have a dispute about a patent. His patent is swallowed up, and he is ruined." Clearly, there has to be a better way and indeed there is but you have to think and plan ahead.

The key to keeping out of court is to anticipate and defuse potential disputes before they arise. The best way to do that is to commission regular intellectual property audits from your lawyers or patent or trade mark attorneys.

An IP audit identifies the intellectual assets that you use in your business - that is to say, your brands, designs, technology and works of art and literature (which includes computer software and databases, catalogues and users' manuals as well as poetry and painting) - and finds out who owns them.

If you or your business own an asset the auditor considers whether it is …