Legal Cheek

London IP firm falls victim to Chinese copycat website

Ironic

London intellectual property (IP) firm Marks & Clerk has had large sections of its website duplicated by what appears to be a group of internet wrongens.

The copycat site, at first glance, seems to be promoting the services of a company called “Champion Intellectual Property Management” (CIPM). The business, according its website, has offices in London and Beijing, and “advises clients worldwide in all aspects of IP across all sectors”.

Upon closer inspection, it becomes apparent that something isn’t quite right with CIPM’s professional-looking site.

First and foremost, it looks remarkably similar in appearance and layout (screenshot below) to one belonging to West London outfit Marks & Clerk.

Further red flags are raised when cross-referencing CIPM’s staff (pictured along the top of the image below) with Marks & Clerk’s lawyers. For example, CIPM “partner” “William Gilbert” is actually Marks & Clerk partner Mike Gilbert (pictured bottom left), while CIPM “consultant” “Charlie Alge” is clearly Marks & Clerk partner Charlie Balme (pictured bottom right).

In a further example, Marks & Clerk partner Graham Burnett-Hall appears to have been handed a demotion, featuring as an “assistant” on CIPM’s near-identical site.

Elsewhere it would appear that that those behind the site — which has a domain name designated in Hong Kong — have been slightly haphazard with their copying and pasting. A quick search of CIPM’s “Accessibility” page reveals two references to Marks & Clerk.

Maureen Kinsler, chairman of Marks & Clerk, told Legal Cheek that CIPM “is in no way associated with Marks & Clerk. Its website reproduces material protected by copyright and, as far as the UK at least is concerned, is passing itself off as being connected to Marks & Clerk Intellectual Property”. She continued:

“Our solicitors in the UK and China are currently working to identify the entity behind this. We have been in contact with the internet service provider to request that access to the website is blocked and hope that this will be done shortly but are prepared to obtain a court order if necessary.”

According to World Trademark Review, CIPM is a “prolific trademark filer” with over 500 applications across the world to its name. The company was registered in the United Kingdom in 2013, but dissolved back in May. Its UK registered address appears to part of self-storage site in Basingstoke, according to the report.

CIPM didn’t respond to Legal Cheek’s request for comment.