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Directors beware of intellectual property infringement

07 July 2016

In the recent case of Grenade (UK) Limited v Grenade Energy Limited and Another, the IP Enterprise Court found that the company director was jointly liable with his company for both trademark infringement and passing-off.

The judge stated that the defendant’s status as a sole director and sole shareholder raised an evidential presumption that the corporate defendant’s acts were committed at the director’s instigation. The judge, therefore, took the view that the director actively cooperated with the company to commit the act of passing-off and infringement.

The case acts as a warning that a company director could be found jointly liable with his company for any trademark infringement if he should happen to be the sole director and shareholder of the company. It appears that the court is willing to look behind the veil of limited liability in assessing liability for passing-off and infringement.

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