The government has set out plans to adopt proposals that will mean lawyers are no longer at risk from being sued personally for making threats when pursuing breaches of intellectual property rights.
The Intellectual Property (Unjustified Threats) Bill, announced today in the Queen’s speech, adopts recommendations from the Law Commission to reform the law on unjustified threats of infringement proceedings for patents, design rights and trademarks.
The commission published a draft bill last October following a lengthy campaign by the Law Society’s intellectual property law committee.
The government said the bill will ‘exempt professional legal advisers from liability for making threats, if they are acting on instructions from a client and in their professional capacity, so that they can help settle disputes’.
The current law provides a statutory right of redress against ‘unjustified threats’, even by professional advisers, which the Law Commission warned could deprive clients of expert assistance at a time they need it most.
The bill also aims to make it easier for businesses to settle IP disputes and to avoid litigation.
It will force rights holders to focus their allegations on the source of any alleged infringement, by making a ‘clearer distinction between approaches made to different parts of the supply chain’.