Shireen Smith

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If you are starting up in business, getting the right legal help can be a key to success — especially if you are a creative business. An effective Intellectual Property strategy to properly structure your IP rights from the beginning really does make a difference to the value of your business as it grows.

I was inspired by the Personal Family Lawyer site to consider what I think are important questions to ask. This is the first in a series of blog posts aimed at those who are about to engage a business lawyer. …


In the early days of the internet when the web was like a small village which has just one bread shop, one toy shop or one other type of store, it was understandable that businesses were drawn to names like toys.com or books.com or hotels.com as business names not just as domain names. But with the crowded marketplace that the web has become, why would anyone want to choose such non distinctive names for their business?

Now don’t get me wrong. These are great domain names because they’re fantastic for generating traffic. But as business names they suck. Why? Because…


A common mistake small businesses make with their web project is to rely on a web designer to guide them on all matters involving the internet. Although web design is an important component of web success, it is only one of many different skills needed.

Many small businesses need help to assess the objectives of their website, and how best to fulfil its objectives. But a web designer may not be the right person for them to approach initially because the answer may be to not have a website at all. …


What is a scam? According to the consumer fraud reporting “A confidence trick, confidence game, or con for short (also known as a scam) is an attempt to intentionally mislead a person or persons …. usually with the goal of financial or other gain…”

The Intellectual Property Office devotes a whole page here warning IP applicants that “Scams aimed at unwary inventors never go away. A newcomer we’ve become aware of is a Brussels-based organisation calling itself the ‘European Institute for Economy and Commerce (EIEC)’. You’re likely to be targeted by EIEC — and maybe other scammers — if you…


A trademark conveys the image, personality and the origin of the products to a customer. Through this information, the consumer will make an economic decision to purchase. Thus, trademarks are crucial in developing a company’s strategy.

Brand owners invest a lot of money in advertising campaigns and in market studies to find successful products that consumers are likely to buy. Brand owners should protect their valuable property against competitors aspiring to benefit from the attractive brand and therefore damaging the uniqueness of the trademark. …


Where Are You At In Your Internet Marketing Efforts? reminds us that small businesses need to understand the possibilities on the web at their own pace.

The fact that only 44% of small businesses have a website despite the well known fact that search engines are reportedly the most popular source people turn to when looking for local companies shows that there is huge potential to sell to this market. …


Although it is difficult to get a successful result in an online defamation issue, it can be done by carefully establishing who is making the comment, and where they are based. Other important considerations are how damaging the comments are and whether threats might drive the defamer to make further comments. Litigation and threats of litigation are not always the best way forwards but they can be a useful tool. The Facebook case illustrates one such instance where litigation was used to stop defamation on a social networking site.

The Facebook Case: A Modern take on Defamation

Many web users have a false belief that they can say…


The internet has radically changed the nature of defamation law. While it was once a specialised subject left to media lawyers it is now a topic on which most internet lawyers have to advise. Internet defamation is, however, dramatically different from more traditional defamation cases.

Comments made on the internet can be instantly and indefinitely accessible to millions of people around the world. Even if the original site where the comment was posted has disappeared the comments may remain cached in a search engine or have been repeated on other websites or blogs. …


It is amazing how naïve otherwise sensible business people can be when it comes to commissioning a designer to develop a website for them. Whether it is a lack of knowledge or simple forgetfulness many businesses overlook formalities like having a website development contract. This lax approach can have serious consequences.

While it may be impracticable to scour every contract that you come across in business, let alone get legal advice on them all, some contracts are just too important to take lightly. A website is one of them, and even more so if it is for an e-commerce site.

Securing Rights in Your Website


IP lawyers always become excited when they find an example of a trade mark in danger of becoming generic. The case in point is the trade mark for NETBOOK, pointed out in this blog post. NETBOOK was registered as a trade mark in the US and in the EU by Psion in 1996 for computers. Oddly enough, until last year the company seemed to do very little to enforce their mark. Psion has now changed their strategy and is now alerting the industry to their trade mark through a series of letters. Google is also now blocking any keyword advertisements…

Shireen Smith

Lawyer & founder of Azrights a UK law firm and of Brand Tuned a brand management consultancy supporting branding projects. Author of books on branding & IP.

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