Copyright is essentially a private right so decisions about how to enforce the right, that is what to do when a copyright work is used without permission, are generally for the copyright holder to take.
By application to the courts the copyright owner can:
- Stop a person making further infringing use of the material by seeking an injunction, interdict or other order
- Claim damages from those who infringe their copyright
- Compel the infringing party to give up or destroy the infringing.
Additional remedies are available for infringement on a commercial scale. Deliberate infringement of copyright on a commercial scale may be a criminal offence. This activity is usually known as copyright piracy and is often linked to wilful infringement of trade marks known as counterfeiting where criminal offences also exist.
Piracy and counterfeiting are therefore often also referred to as intellectual property or IP crime. In the unlikely situation that a senior office holder in an FE or HE institution knowingly facilitated the commercial abuse of copyright law the institution could be held responsible.
Intellectual property rights usually give the right to stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling, and importing an invention without the owner’s permission. The existence of a patent may be enough on its own to stop others from trying to exploit an invention. If it does not, patent law gives the right to take legal action to stop others exploiting an invention and to claim damages.
Registering a design gives exclusive rights for the look and appearance of the product or object. The existence of a design registration may be enough on its own to stop others from trying to exploit the design. If it does not, it gives the right to take legal action to stop others exploiting the design and to claim damages.
It is possible to get a court order to force an infringer to cease trading. It is then possible to consider whether to negotiate or to take legal action for compensation. Infringement actions are taken to the high court of England and Wales, the high court of Northern Ireland or the court of session in Scotland.
If someone uses an identical or similar and confusable trade mark for identical or similar goods or services to a trade mark already in use without the owner’s consent, that person infringes the trade mark. In an infringement action, the registered owner may claim any of the following remedies:
- Damages or an account of profits
- An order for the offending sign to be erased, removed or obliterated from any infringing goods, material or articles. If this is not reasonably practicable, an order may be sought for the infringing party to destroy or deliver the infringing goods to a person in the court direct
- Injunctive relief (or, in Scotland, Interdict).
Further information on intellectual property crime and infringement is available on the UK government website.
Many institutions are involved in overseas learning and it is essential to know how to use, guard and enforce their intellectual property rights and the licenses they pay for. Intellectual property rights are territorial and you can learn about intellectual property protection abroad here.