I run three restaurants in the City with a distinctive, witty design, based on a well-known politician, a major attraction for our customers. A few weeks ago a friend returned from in Russia and told me she saw a restaurant there with a copycat exterior and interior design. Therefore really taken all our ideas and nicked them, which makes me very cross.
Can we sue them?
Infringement of intellectual property rights is possible in Russia. You should file an action in a Russian court. Even if you manage to sue them in the UK, the judgment would not be enforceable in Russia.
Take pictures of the exterior and interior of the Russian restaurant and yours, in the presence of witnesses to prove the unauthorised usage. Make sure you have materials to present to the judge – sketches, drafts, and original drawings – anything that indicates the design was produced by you.
If the copycat is not a perfect copy of your design, I advise obtaining an expert opinion to confirm that the copycat is based on your original design. This will help you prove that the defendant used your intellectual property, not just the idea.
But be careful-you may have trouble collecting damages in Russia-often you can pour money into a black hole.
Hylton-Potts advice on litigation overseas not just in the UK, and can introduce you to reliable local lawyers