The news that Sonos is suing Google for allegedly stealing its wireless speaker technology is not entirely surprising.
The chances of infringing on someone else’s intellectual property (IP) – such as copyright or trademark – are increasing. Hundreds of new businesses and products are created every day. And with that comes the risk of claims raised for infringement of a logo, business or product name, even colours (see Deutsche Telekom’s dispute with Lemonade), symbols and fonts. Businesses can also face problems for using stock images, music and sounds, if they haven’t bought the necessary licenses.
Although tech giants and large Enterprises like Google will be able to battle these disputes out in the courts, and absorb any costs, for a smaller SME, such an event could cripple their business before it even gets off the ground. They therefore need to ensure they have the processes in place to protect their operations.
The best way to avoid a challenge and potentially expensive rebrand/product recall or legal dispute is to ensure that before any design takes place names/branding/logo are decided that there’s no clash with existing market players. This may mean hiring a patent attorney or lawyer or at the very least looking for similar company or product names, web domains, as well as checking the online register of patents, trademarks, copyright and designs. Even if a business isn’t trading cross region, they could get caught out further down the line when looking to expand overseas.
Also, a key requirement is to take out professional indemnity (PI) policy to protect against trademark and copyright disputes. It will help cover legal costs defending or settling a claim of infringement and ensure the business is fully protected.
Authored by Ben Rose, Chief Underwriter of Digital Risks