Legal Business

Law Tech Special: Fake rugs and drill bits – Incopro eyes brand protection dominance

Law Tech Special: Fake rugs and drill bits – Incopro eyes brand protection dominance

Seven years after Wiggin set up IP technology company Incopro, it has raised $21m and expanded to protect more than 600 brands, Hamish McNicol reports

Simon Baggs, co-founder and chief executive of online brand protection provider Incopro, has a friend who designs and sells high-end rugs for tens of thousands of pounds. Within days of a visit to a trade fair in China, however, there were fake replicas of her product available on e-commerce giant Alibaba.com.

Legal Business

Top-tier sports law team spins off from Charles Russell Speechlys as Wiggin acquires IP boutique Redd

Top-tier sports law team spins off from Charles Russell Speechlys as Wiggin acquires IP boutique Redd

A four-partner, top-ranked  sports law team from Charles Russell Speechlys has spun off to create specialist boutique firm Northridge, while media and brands specialist Wiggin has acquired intellectual property (IP) practice Redd.

Northridge founding partners Jonathan Ellis, Ian Lynam, Jon Walters and James Eighteen, who led Charles Russell’s sports law team to tier 1 in the Legal 500, launch the new firm this morning (23 October) with a starting team comprised of 16 fee earners.

Northridge’s launch has been accelerated by an impressive pre-existing portfolio of clients including The Football Association (FA), leading Premier League football clubs, the Welsh Rugby Union and Premiership Rugby.

In addition to the listed institutions, Northridge can also count football stars Dele Alli, Cesc Fabregas, Raheem Sterling and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on its books.

Lynam told Legal Business that the team ‘saw an opportunity to have a firm with a specialist focus but also with the scale and experience to deal with high-profile matters in sports.’

He added: ‘We felt we had the ability to have that focus which will create a better service for clients.’

The Northridge team’s recent work has seen them act for Iranian businessman Farhad Moshiri during his investment in Premier League outfit Everton Football Club, and representing the FA at the Hillsborough inquest.

The team’s loss is a heavy blow to Charles Russell Speechlys, although the firm recorded stable financial results this year with revenues rising by 3% and profit per equity partner jumping 8%. Head of the firm’s sports group, Jason Saiban, commented; ‘We wish Ian, Jon, James and Jon every success in their new endeavour. We remain committed to the sports sector and will continue to build on our 100 year-old heritage. We are excited about the sports opportunities available to us domestically and internationally, as we expand our reach into new markets such as South East Asia.’

Meanwhile, Redd is set to combine with Wiggin on 6 November after the firms announced a deal today. The merged team will combine two strong IP teams, combining 20 IP specialists who will work across Wiggin’s offices.

In a statement, Wiggin chief executive John Banister commented: ‘Wiggin devised an assertive growth strategy a few years ago that was focused on our key markets – delivering innovative IP solutions is a critical component of this. Redd’s specialist approach, excellent lawyers and entrepreneurialism represents a real synergy with Wiggin and will enable us to provide a full IP offering to our clients.’

Redd, which formed in 2004 as a spin-out from legacy Jones Day UK firm Gouldens, has a client base including start-ups and multinationals across a number of sectors.

tom.baker@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Reed Smith ISP clients defeated in landmark counterfeit website dispute brought by Cartier owner

Reed Smith ISP clients defeated in landmark counterfeit website dispute brought by Cartier owner

In what gives brand owners the power to combat trademark infringement in the EU, UK internet service providers were defeated as London’s High Court on Friday (17 October) handed down a landmark judgment establishing that trade mark owners can secure court orders blocking websites that are structured to infringe their trade mark rights by selling counterfeit goods online.

Justice Richard Arnold held that the UK’s five major internet service providers comprising Sky, BT, EE, TalkTalk and Virgin (collectively the ISPs) should block or at least impede access by their respective subscribers to six websites, dubbed the ‘Target Websites’ which advertise and sell counterfeit goods.

The battle saw the ISPs represented by Reed Smith partner Michael Skrein who instructed 8 New Square duo Charlotte May QC and Jaani Riordan. IP boutique Wiggin, meanwhile, represented the claimant, Switzerland-based luxury goods holding company Richemont, which owns Cartier, MontBlanc and Chloé, with Wiggin’s head of IP/rights protection team Simon Baggs leading a team and instructing 8 New Square’s Adrian Speck QC and 11 South Square’s Benet Brandreth.

The court concluded that there is a clear public interest in preventing the sale of counterfeit goods online and Richemont have a ‘legitimate interest in curtailing such activity’ and such orders by the claimants ‘would not interfere with the provision by the ISPs of their services to their customers’.

It is the first time an application for a website-blocking order against internet service providers in order to combat trade mark infringement has been made in the EU. This test case is likely to be followed by other applications by Richemont and other trade mark owners, both here and in other countries.

David Allen Green, Of Counsel and head of the litigation and media practices at Preiskel & Co, and who acted on behalf of Open Rights Group (ORG) which made written submissions to the court focusing on the position of third parties potentially affected by the orders sought by Richemont, said: ‘ORG is not on the side of counterfeiters. But innocent internet users can end up being affected by these orders. The court should be mindful of how these orders can impact on third parties. We are grateful to the High Court for recognising that the test to be applied by the court includes the requirement of there being safeguards against abuse. We hope that this intervention will go some way to help ensure that future claimants cannot use blocking orders to restrict legitimate activity or free speech.’

sarah.downey@legalease.co.uk

Legal Business

Wiggin opens Brussels office in push for alternative income

Media boutique Wiggin has officially opened its doors in Brussels, as the firm’s pursuit of sustainable alternative revenue streams sets a benchmark for non-legal services for law firms.

The Brussels office, which launched in February, is key to developing a distinct arm of the firm’s business, Incopro, into Europe. Incopro was launched in March 2012 as a partnership between Wiggin’s rights protection practice (led by partner Simon Baggs) and Bret Boivin, formerly of Warner Bros and NBC Universal, to provide content protection services to media companies.