In the UK, if a person threatens another with infringement of certain intellectual property rights, the person that makes the threat can liable for damages if the threat is later considered to be groundless. What constitutes a 'threat' and what is considered 'groundless' is not always clear, and it can be quite easy to stray into dangerous territory.

The IP (Unjustified Threats) Act aims to further help businesses to negotiate disputes and avoid litigation by reforming the law on unjustified threats of patent, trademark and design infringement. The Act will take effect on 1 October 2017.

As described in our earlier articles of 15 June 2016, 27 March 2017 and 4 May 2017, amongst other changes, the new law will provide a more consistent framework for dealing with unjustified threats concerning infringement of patents, trademarks and designs.

IP rights holders are nevertheless advised to take care in all communications regarding infringement proceedings, and we would always recommend consulting with your IP advisor prior to contacting any third parties in relation to infringement of any IP rights you own.