The industry has a mixed record of respecting intellectual property (IP). We’ve probably all seen cases of copying (ranging from accidental infringement to blatant copying and theft) of innovations, product design and brands. Common infringements range from using images and brochures without permission, passing off as other brands, as well as copying other companies’ products without permission and benefitting from their innovation and investment without paying for them.
We all pay a price if we allow this to happen. People invest a great deal of time and money in building their brand and developing innovations. As an industry, we need a flow of innovative ideas and new products to help us take advantage of new opportunities and expand the market. But companies are not going to continue investing their time, efforts and money if they don’t get a return.
Over the years, window systems, roofline companies, hardware and conservatory companies, fabricators and installer networks like TimberWindows.com and Bygone Collection have engaged in successful legal action to defend their intellectual property, and indirectly have defended the industry.
As MD of Masterframe and the Bygone Collection, I’ve experienced this at first-hand. Recently, we successfully took legal action against a company that purported to sell Bygone windows and doors, using Bygone promotional literature. When the homeowner realised the difference in quality and turned to us we took the company to court, acting on behalf of the homeowner and Bygone Collection installers who they were pretending to be. The guilty party was fined over £5,000 plus 100 hours unpaid community work. Rip-offs like this give our industry (and them) a bad name.
it’s important to check if the image, product or innovation you want to use is copyrighted, or patented, and if you need a licence. Checking and obtaining a licence is a lot cheaper than legal action, and a lot less disruptive. Doing it right saves you money and your reputation.
Alan Burgess, Timberweld®