In this spotlight series, we showcase the talent of our solicitors and the people behind the advice. This week we caught up with Emily Nousios - a senior intellectual property solicitor. Emily joined our IP team in October 2021 after working at international and national law firms where she specialised in patent and trade mark litigation.
What are your areas of specialism within intellectual property?
As a senior IP solicitor, Emily advises clients across the spectrum of intellectual property rights and neighbouring rights, including patent, copyright, trade mark, passing off, design rights, database rights, trade secrets, confidential information and more.
Like many of our senior solicitors at Harper James, while Emily is a generalist with skills across many intellectual property matters, her specialism is predominantly in patent litigation.
‘I really enjoy patent litigation and have litigated cases both in IPEC concerning flood defence technology and in the Patents Court for medical devices and diagnostic technology. One of the most significant cases I assisted with, was to defend Premaitha in the patent infringement claim brought by Illumina, both initially in the High Court and later at the Court of Appeal stage.
‘The case concerned non-invasive pre-natal testing, which samples the free floating foetal DNA that circulates in a pregnant woman’s bloodstream from as early as 6 weeks into pregnancy. The technology that was at issue in this dispute represented a huge step forward in diagnostics, avoiding previously invasive and riskier processes like sampling cells from the amniotic fluid or placenta. I have a very strong interest in science and technology which is fulfilled by working in the field of intellectual property. One of the most enjoyable aspects of the job is getting to grips with a client’s state of the art technological developments and working with them to decide how best to protect and license these.’
Emily states: ‘Growing up in the late eighties and nineties, like many women of my generation I was pushed towards the arts and languages rather than science and maths, despite being stronger in these areas and coming from a family of scientists. I have always found science fascinating, particularly developments in human stem cell technology and genome editing technology such CRISPR. I started studying for a degree in Natural Sciences, with the Open University before I had children and it is something that I would love to pick up again.’
Why do you think there has been an increase in trade mark and copyright disputes recently?
When asked why we have seen a major increase in trade mark and copyright disputes at Harper James, Emily sees the pandemic as a major accelerator but acknowledges that this shift was inevitable.
‘COVID 19 forced many businesses online whether they were ready for that change or not, and with that has come an increased potential for copyright and trade mark infringement to occur,’ Emily states. ‘In tandem with that, social media has exacerbated the amount of information available, but without educating its users on what counts as defamatory or infringing content. It is also very US-centric and this creates a lot of confusion between English and American intellectual property laws. We often see instances of copyright infringement dismissed on the basis of something being “fair use” but this is an American legal term. Our equivalent would be fair dealing, but this has much narrower, specific application than the American legal concept. It is vital that clients receive accurate legal advice when they face a claim, as so much information online can be incorrect and misleading.’
Developing an intellectual property strategy from the outset is an easier way of protecting your brand than having to resort to litigation further down the line. In her many years of experience, Emily has seen the consequences of not properly planning ahead.
‘With the creation of a business, there are multiple, competing financial demands – but it is crucial to get your IP identified and protected from the off’ Emily advises.
Any advice for start-ups and small businesses wanting to protect their intellectual property?
‘While it may seem like a significant investment in the beginning, both patents and trade marks are something some start-ups don’t always give enough attention to early on and as a result, end up embroiled in costly litigation further down the line. It can pay dividends to involve IP lawyers early on, to identify and to decide how best to protect and monetise your intellectual property. It also makes your business a more attractive prospect to investors if you have a strong portfolio of registered intellectual property rights.’
It is always easier to get things right from the beginning and to put the right intellectual property protection in place from the outset
‘It is always easier to get things right from the beginning and to put the right intellectual property protection in place from the outset. We can advise clients what they really need in terms of protection. We work together with our clients to develop a pragmatic strategy, so they have the protection they need for their innovation, but we also make sure that they don’t end up with a huge and unnecessary patent portfolio, which will be expensive for them to maintain. It is a case of really taking the time at the inception to explore their aims, their markets, potential licensing opportunities and revenue streams, to make sure we address these.’
Emily also discussed how ‘NFTs (non-fungible tokens) have attracted a lot of interest, with queries around whether copyright subsists in them (it does not) and if they are original artworks (uncertain). It is a useful example of intellectual property law having to grapple with the fast-paced change of technological developments.’
How are you finding Harper James so far?
In speaking about her experience of working at Harper James, Emily’s first impressions were that ‘Harper James is a really dynamic firm, which punches well above its weight. Our pricing and service model is ideally tailored to small start-up businesses, allowing them to spread the cost of legal services over a number of months and to more accurately budget and forecast legal spend. This is particularly important for intellectual property, where the costs of obtaining protection for registered IP rights can be clustered in a short time period.’
‘Not only does our model benefit our clients but it also enables a uniquely flexible work-life balance for those working at Harper James.’
Contact Emily to see how she can help you and your business.