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One of the greatest British cultural icons of the 20th century

Bitter-sweet IP Cases Highlight the Need for IP Insurance

Jun 2019


One of the greatest British cultural icons of the 20th century – musician Richard Ashcroft – has finally emerged from a copyright battle dating back to 1997 with an unexpected intellectual property outcome, which he announced whilst picking up the Ivor Novello Award for outstanding contribution to British music.

The Verve’s lead singer, whose global anthem, ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’ is the musical backdrop to England international football matches, and a song that closed hit movie ‘Cruel Intentions’, is finally to be the sole recipient of royalties from his acoustically mesmerising song going forwards.

This follows a long legal wrangle that followed the song’s release in 1997, featuring a distinctive four-second-long string motif taken from an orchestral version of the Rolling Stones hit, ‘The Last Time’.  Whilst discussions about using this part of the 1960s band’s intellectual property had been held, the Rolling Stones’ publishing company claimed the final use of the sample had not been agreed and a longer section had been incorporated into ‘Bittersweet Symphony’ than had been discussed.

This led to a copyright lawsuit, settled out of court, which led to Ashcroft having to relinquish his royalties and add the names Jagger and Richard to the song’s credit.  Now, however, more than two decades later, Mick Jagger and Keith Richards have given up their rights, enabling Ashcroft to now be the sole beneficiary of any future royalties.

Defending claims of Intellectual Property (IP) infringement, whether these relate to copyright, patents, trademarks, designs, artistic and musical works, or even words, phrases and symbols, can be hugely expensive and such legal actions are not just encountered by rock stars and top designers.  Losing such a case can also lead to further losses in the form of legal costs, damages and settlements payable to the IP holder. Furthermore, a loss of an IP case can lead to financial losses on the product in which you had invested and now have to scrap. 

However, bringing an action to reinforce your IP also comes at a high cost, as having the protection in place is only half the battle and seeking to enforce it, and convince a judge of your rights, quite another. Should you find your IP non-enforceable and prove unsuccessful with your legal case, having found your IP not as watertight as you imagined, you could suffer the indignity and financial blow of a counterclaim being brought against you.

Having IP in place can be a bitter-sweet thing if the latter should occur, unless you have IP insurance to pick up the tab.   The world of Intellectual Property is certainly a confusing and unexpected one at times, so having the means to orchestrate a defence, or bring a case knowing that you would be protected should you prove unsuccessful, can be as important as the certification you do or not have in your filing cabinet.

To find an expert who can guide you when it comes to Intellectual Property insurance and give you the verve to carry on promoting and selling your product without any qualms or concerns on this score, please use our ‘Find a Local Broker’ tool.

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