CJCH History Month: The Story of Patchell Davies Solicitors

By Amy Palin

In April 2017 CJCH Solicitors welcomed its newest addition to the firm, with the incorporation of, Blackwood based, Patchell Davies Solicitors.

The story of Patchell Davies begins in 1977, when a new face arrived on the legal scene in Blackwood, Howard Patchell. After working less than a year as an Assistant Solicitor in a local firm, he became a partner, but it would only be four years before Howard decided to go it alone and open his own practice. Howard Patchell & Co opened its doors on Pentwyn Road, Blackwood in January 1982.

The firm grew from strength to strength, and in 1985 was joined by Graeme Davies. This marked the beginnings of the team that, despite changes over the years, would remain at the core of the firm throughout.

Graeme’s arrival at the firm allowed for the expansion of its expertise, in family law and litigation, areas in which he specialises.

With an expanding team and growing demand, the firm moved to bigger offices at its current location on Blackwood High Street in 1987.

It was in 1992 the firm officially became established as Patchell Davies, the name by which it has been known for nearly three decades, and under which it became a well-known and respected face on the High Street, offering clients a wide range of services.

Howard Patchell specialises in Wills, Probate, Conveyancing, and Commercial work. Graeme Davies is accredited as a Senior Litigator by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers and is a member of the Family association Resolution. David James, who has been with the firm for eight years, and the firm’s newest addition, Joanne Lerwill, specialise in Conveyancing.

The firm today takes pride in its reputation and loyalty from clients. This can be attributed to the quality of service, and also to the relationships developed with longstanding members of staff, who give clients the confidence that they will always receive a professional service with a personal touch.

Now an integrated part of CJCH Solicitors, the team from Patchell Davies continues to deliver their impeccable work ethic and client service standards.

Your Idea or Copyright Theft?

Ana Kocmut-Saunders

“La propriété, c’est le vol!” (All Property is theft!).  So said French anarchist and capitalist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon in 1840.  Proudhon was not actually criticising individual entitlement to privately owned land. He was attacking landowners and capitalists whom he believed “stole” profits from labourers.

When modern day capitalists start up their own business they can quickly, easily and unwittingly ‘steal’ other peoples’ property.  How?  By using or adopting patented inventions or processes, trademarked logos or copyrighted material in their own business offerings or marketing.

Patents and Trademarks are easier to check out to avoid falling foul of them.  You can do that by a simple search of the online registry for each.

Beware and do your due diligence to check it out however.

Big brand retailers and service providers can be very aggressive indeed in their pursuit of anyone allegedly breaching their trademarks

Click here for the the latest reported instance and potential salutary tale.

What about copyright though? 

If material is not patented or trademarked, how do you know that your song, marketing concept, literary feature, clothing design or advertising pitch hasn’t already been created and protected by someone else?

Gareth Thompson

If you create something isn’t it yours?  So what if it’s not?  Does it really matter and should you worry?  Potentially yes if it steps hard enough on a business rivals’ copyright protected toes.

Uber was recently sued by Waymo (Google) for allegedly stealing technical information about itsLiDAR self-driving car system.  Ed Sheeran was recently sued for £16m for ‘stealing’ notes from ‘Amazing’ sung by Matt Cardle in his top 20 hit ‘Photograph’.  Marvin Gaye’s estate successfully sued Robin Thicke and  Pharrell Williams for $7.4m for ‘stealing’ from Gaye’s music to create ‘Blurred Lines.

In the fashion world the number of fashion shops claiming damages from rivals for copycat  designs has increased dramatically.  All Saints attacked River Island for copying items from its men’s and women’s collections.  Jimmy Choo pursued Marks and Spencers on the same basis.  Top Shop was forced to pay an undisclosed sum to French design house Chloe for copying a dungaree *

Original ideas invariably borrow from old ones. Even Voltaire admitted that “Originality is nothing but judicious imitation” **.  So how is a fledging entrepreneur supposed to know when their own inspiration becomes appropriation?  What’s the difference between being legitimately creative and original and illegally copying someone else’s work?  When does an idea become copyright protected material anyway?

Copyright arises automatically when material is first created.  However it has to be recorded not just remain an idea in someone’s head.  Once it is recorded though, any copying or adaptation of it can amount to an infringement.  An example would be lifting or adapting content ‘word for word’ from a business rival‘s promotional material or website to promote your own business.  However creating your own work based on someone else’s similar idea would not be an infringement of their copyright.

If recorded material is in the ‘public domain’ then it can be freely used.  Material published on the internet may be freely accessible to anyone. Perhaps surprisingly, that does not mean it is in the public domain.  Recorded material is only in the public domain if its copyright protection has expired.  How long does that last?  In the UK and for mere mortals, it currently lasts for the life of the author plus 70 years but not always. In the case of JM Barrie’s Peter Pan copyright protection has, (rather like Peter), an indefinite life span.  In JM Barrie’s case that was achieved by a statutory amendment made especially for that purpose in 1987 before it expired.

Different countries have different copyright expiry periods.  In the USA for ‘applied art’ material it can be as (comparatively) short as 25 years.  In Mexico, it is 100 years after the death of the author.  Once it has expired you can freely use, copy and adapt it.  However think twice before incorporating ‘Singing in the Rain’ into the marketing materials for the launch of your new retail umbrella outlet or ‘That’s Life’ for your positive thinking consultancy.  The copyright in the song or lyrics composition may have expired. However the copyright in the recording itself is separately protected. That could make it a highly successful but potentially very expensive launch party.

If there is any doubt about whether material you intend to use is copyrighted, whether anything came of it might ultimately and actually depend on how commercially successful you were.  How do you protect yourself against copyright infringement anyway?

In short create don’t copy or adapt someone else’s material.  Literally start with a ‘blank page’ and just what’s in your head.  Also go online and see what else has been created and recorded.  A simple ‘Google’ or ‘Bing Search’ will be highly informative.  It might be depressing to discover that your unique idea sadly isn’t but far better to be safe than sorry.  If in doubt always acknowledge the author’s contribution.  Apply otherwise to the author for a licence, grit your teeth and pay them a license fee.

If you’re otherwise sure that you’ve created your own original material don’t keep it to yourself.  Cast modesty to the winds and make sure you record and publish it.  Go ahead, be inspired and creative. Feel free to stand on the shoulders of others.  Just avoid picking their intellectual pockets in the process.

* Rachel Shields, Independent

** Daliah Saper, business.com

If in doubt and for safety always ‘look before you leap’ by getting specialist IP advice first.  Consult Ana Kocmut-Saunders, a member of the rapidly expanding IP team at CJCH solicitors.  Ana specialises in intellectual property protection.

CJCH Solicitors Corporate (including IP law) team is lead by Gareth Thompson, supported by Ana Kocmut-Saunders, and offers a obligation free consultation contact for new matters – 029 2048 3181 or e-mail on commercial@cjch.co.uk

Fire Safety in Commercial Premises

Article by Sam Pearson

With the tragedy at Grenfell Tower still fresh in our memories, fire safety understandably has become something of a pressing issue. Our commercial property specialist Sam Pearson looks at the importance of getting it right when it comes to fire safety in commercial premises.

The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order 2005 (“The Order”) covers fire safety in England and Wales with the aim of protecting buildings and people from the dangers of fire by setting out steps which should be taken to reduce the risk. Responsibility for complying with The Order rests with the “responsible person[s]” which includes the employer in the workplace, owners and/or persons in control of premises.

Although The Order is aimed at commercial premises (including external areas and vacant premises) it is important to mention that it also applies to communal parts of residential properties.

The responsible person[s] must determine what general fire precautions are necessary and carry out a risk assessment which must be documented, recorded and kept under review. Other responsibilities include (but are not limited to) taking measures for the provision of firefighting and fire detection equipment; ensuring fire safety equipment and exit routes are properly maintained; the appointment of a competent person to implement the fire safety measures including evacuation procedures and safety drills; and providing training and information for employees and other persons who may be affected.

A breach of your obligations under The Order creates criminal offences and a person found guilty of an offence is liable to a fine and in the most serious cases imprisonment. The responsible person[s] could also face civil liability for breach of a statutory duty.

There have been numerous cases where businesses and Landlords have been convicted for failing to comply with their obligations under The Order:

  • Most recently in June 2017, a company responsible for the running of a care home in Doncaster was fined £3,500 and ordered to pay £13,325 prosecution costs for failing to have a suitable fire risk assessment in place;
  • Locally, a Welsh construction company was fined £100,000 after admitting to fire safety breaches at a construction site and a Cardiff landlord was fined nearly £2,000 for failing to install smoke alarms;
  • A number of major retailers have also been caught out including New Look who following a fire that gutted their Oxford Street store were fined £400,000 after pleading guilty to failing to provide sufficient staff training and admitting to storage blocking escape routes.

Clearly then the costs of getting it wrong can be high!

Whether you have any doubts about the adequacy of fire safety measures in existing premises, you are in process of acquiring new premises or in the unfortunate event you suffer a fire or face enforcement action,  our experts here at CJCH Solicitors will be able to provide you with the expert legal advice and practical commercial considerations to assist you and your business.

Need to recover debt from an individual or sole trader? New protocol in place from October 2017.

By Nerys Thomas – Solicitor (Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution)

From 1st October 2017 a new Pre-Action Protocol will be introduced which sets out the steps needed to be taken when looking to pursue a debt claim (The Pre-Action Protocol for Debt Claims). 

All businesses (including public bodies and sole traders) seeking to recover a debt from an individual will need to comply with the Protocol.   

The Protocol will not apply to business-to-business debts unless the Potential Defendant/debtor is a sole trader. 

As is the case with all Protocols, the intention is for the procedure to provide a way of filtering through potential claims, possibly facilitating a resolution where possible, or if the matter could not be resolved the parties will hopefully be in a position where the issues have been narrowed and/or a clearer understanding of the issues in dispute will be known.    

It is the intention that the Protocol will complement any regulatory regime to which the Potential Claimant/creditor is subject and should any conflict arise between the regulatory obligation and the Protocol, the former will take precedence.   

The likely impact upon the Potential Claimant/creditor in complying with the Protocol is the cost of preparing the required correspondence and responding to queries, should any be raised. 

Furthermore, the Protocol specifies deadlines, of mostly 30 days, which become relevant at various stages of the procedure, hindering the Potential Claimant/creditor from being able to issue the claim at their own discretion.

From a Potential Defendant/debtor’s perspective, a Letter of Claim requires a Reply Form being completed and possibly, depending upon the response being given in the Reply Form, a Standard Financial Statement which requests a great deal of personal information surrounding the person’s/sole trader’s finances, something a great deal of people/sole traders are likely to be uncomfortable with due to the imbalance this presents between parties.  

As with all Protocols, unless there is a justified reason for not using it, there may be cost consequences for failing to comply with the process.

Should you have any queries in relation to the above or any other dispute matters, please contact Nerys Thomas and the rest of the Commercial Law team on commercial@cjch.co.uk