Russell-Cooke's regulation department have highlighted their strong brand protection expertise in a recent series of successful legal actions on behalf of client Sky UK, in both the civil and criminal jurisdictions.

Civil proceedings

In proceedings before the Intellectual Property Enterprise Court (IPEC) four licensees were found to be infringing Sky's copyright by showing Sky Sports without having the required commercial agreements in place. Despite repeated warnings they continued to breach Sky's copyright, leading to enforcement action being taken out against them. As such, the four licensees were ordered to pay almost £100,000 in damages and costs.

Martin Adamson of The Bay horse Hotel in Leeds was ordered to pay £26,495, Kathleen Jones of The Junction Hotel in Pontefract was ordered to pay £19,239, Mary Sherwin of The Bridge in South Shields was ordered to pay £18,889, and Dominique Toulson of The Nags Head in Manchester was ordered to pay £28,988. In addition, all licensees have been ordered to pay 2% interest per annum on the amount owed.

Criminal proceedings

In criminal proceedings heard at Teeside Magistrates' Court, Geraldine Williams and Anthony Williams, licensees of The Cleveland Inn in Middlesbrough, were found guilty after a trial of six offences. Each were found guilty of dishonest reception of a television transmission by showing Sky Sports to customers without a commercial agreement from Sky in breach of section 297(1) Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. They were each fined £1,000 per offence and were ordered to pay £100 victim surcharge and £3,500 prosecution costs totalling £9,600 each - £19,200 overall.

The Russell-Cooke regulation department was directly instructed by Sky UK for the civil proceedings, and by FACT (Federation Against Copyright Theft) to bring the criminal prosecution against the licensees, for showing Sky Sports to customers without having valid commercial viewing agreements in place. Sky Sports is only available to licensed premises in the UK via a commercial viewing agreement from Sky Business.

Matt Bosworth, head of Russell-Cooke's regulation department, said: "The instructions, and their outcomes, demonstrate our nuanced approach to protecting intellectual property rights and brand protection ensuring those who had not paid for copyright should be left in no doubt that Sky UK was and is actively using enforcement in civil and criminal proceedings throughout the country; to protect not only its product but also the rights of its legitimate paying customers by ensuring breaches of copyright and intellectual property rights are rigorously enforced."

The cases have been reported widely: