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UKSolicitorJA
UKSolicitorJA, Solicitor
Category: Law
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Experience:  English solicitor with over 12 years experience
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Can copyright be infringed on a medical condition? so two

Customer Question

can copyright be infringed on a medical condition?
so two terms visual stress and meares-irlen syndrome are used synonymously in scientific journals to describe a condition. irlen has been registered as a copyright. the company behind irlen says i cannot use the term meares-irlen syndrome as irlen is copyrighted and is threatening damages.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 1 year ago.

Hello,

there is no copyright in a word such as irlen. Copyright covers works such as literary works including poems, tables, books, audio visual work etc.

So, in my opinion, you have not breached copyright and you may respond accordingly to the company threatening you.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
hi,
but they have an IPO number(###) ###-####which is a trademark. they are saying i am confusing customers by saying i sell products for meares-irlen syndrome.
my literature states clearly on my terms of service that i do not sell irlen lenses.
this company irlen are saying i am infringing on this copyright/trademark by saying i manage and treat meares-irlen syndrome.
academic journals from experts use both visual stress and meares-irlen syndrome synonymously but this company irlen are insisting i cant say i provide products to manage visual stress/meares irlen syndrome. i can only say meares syndrome omitting irlen.
they have managed to get my listing for visual stress/meares-irlen syndrome glasses removed from Amazon usa. so they must have grounds for infringement if Amazon agree?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
https://www.lucid-research.com/documents/research/paper_jrnl_JournalOfReseachInReading_ComputerisedScreeningForVisualStressInReading.pdfhttp://repository.essex.ac.uk/1478/1/2009-184.pdf
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
my website name is ***** ***** glasses are called Read123 glasses not irlen lenses/glassesthese are my terms of service where expressly tell clients that i don't sell irlen lenses. as you'll see in the email sent to me by irlen i am confusing clients through the use of the term meares-irlen syndrome.http://www.read123.co.uk/en/terms-conditions/email sent to me:"..."Irlen" is a registered trademark around the world, including the US, UK,
and EU. Any use of that trademark without authorization from its owner,
Perceptual Development Corp. and Helen Irlen, is a violation of intellectual
property law. You do not avoid a violation, or liability therefore, by
tacking on various modifiers, such as Meares. We have no interest if you
connect your products to only Olive Meares. We know that using "irlen"
provides benefits for web searches and creates credibility for products
based on its recognition factor. Using it confuses consumers into thinking
they are getting an Irlen approved or authorized product. That is why we
actively protect our trademark.As an example of our trademark protection, I have attached a copy of the
latest UK renewal registration..."
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
sorry i meant to say i am accused of confusing customers.
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 1 year ago.

Thank you for the clarification.

what I need to understand is whether the term Meares Irlen Syndrome is a medical term as it used by various organisations other than you e.g.

http://www.wilcox-dyslexia.co.uk/mearesirlen_testpage.asp

And

http://www.wilcox-dyslexia.co.uk/vision3.asp

If it is a widely used term, I do not see how you are infringing their trademark

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
it's used in scientific journals and other retailers. i'll send over other business links that use this term. i've asked irlen also for a list of non irlen retailers who have their permission to use this term meares-irlen syndrome.
the two journals i cited make no distinction between the two terms.
as per the email from irlen as you can see, they believe i am confusing customers by using the term meares irlen syndrome as they say this condition is only applicable if the symptoms are mitigated using their method. otherwise its a breach of trademark. the class 9 and 42 in the ipo classifications are not very clear.
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 1 year ago.

I believe you are covered by S. 11(2)(c) of the Trade Marks Act 1994 which provides that the use of a registered trade mark is not infringed

(c)the use of the trade mark where it is necessary to indicate the intended purpose of a product or service

Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 1 year ago.

You have to use their trademark so as to indicate the purpose of your glasses.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
these are just some links i have found which makes no distinction between visual stress and meares-irlen syndrome. irlen are not disputing that i can use visual stress. they are disputing i can't use the word irlen in meares-irlen syndrome. so i can only say i provide glasses for visual stress and meares-syndrome. they are saying this because the word irlen is a trademark and confuses people into thinking they are buying irlen approved products even when i have made it quite clear in my terms of service that i do not sell irlen lenses. if the customer doesn't tick the terms of service they cannot buy the glasses. so they are well aware of what they are buying. there is no confusion.on wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irlen_syndrome
on irlen's own homepage http://irlen.com/irlen-syndrome-vs-visual-stress-simple-semantics-or-something-more/http://migraine-dyslexia.com/
suffolk dyslexia association making no distinction between the two terms http://suffolkdyslexiaassociation.co.uk/index.php/about/academic journals in addition to what i have provided previouslyhttp://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/128/4/e932.full.pdf+html?sid=82d7d5e2-781c-4be5-b436-fd13cf352531
http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs10***-***-****-zRetailers who are non affiliated with irlen as they use a different system:http://www.ceriumoptical.com/vistech/visual-stress.aspx
http://www.crossboweducation.com/articles/all-about-visual-stress
http://www.thomson-software-solutions.com/readez/
https://www.eyesite-direct.co.uk/services/colorimetry-and-visual-stress/
http://www.cityeyesopticians.com/eye-examination/eye-conditions/dyslexia-and-visual-stress-assessment/
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 1 year ago.

You have two options:

1) you drop the Irlen reference; or

2) you continue to use it and cite the defence under the Trade Marks Act which I cited above.

In my opinion, you are justified to use the Irlen mark as it shows the purpose of your products I.e. To treat the Irlen syndrome.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
what if they dont have a list of non irlen retailers who use meares-irlen syndrome in their literature?
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 1 year ago.

I would not like to speculate but it appears to me that they are being heavy handed . It's like someone selling Apple Compatible chargers, they are entitled to refer to the a apple trademark to indicate what their products are used for, same applies to your case as you use the Irlen trademark to show what your products are for.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
well they are aggressively trying to
monopolise their position. i know they are worried.
i don't want to give in to their bullying as i don't believe i'm doing anything wrong here.
or as u say stick to visual stress and build my business up and take them on when i can afford a specialist barrister to see them in court if they decide they want to fight me.
Expert:  UKSolicitorJA replied 1 year ago.

Absolutely. Good luck whatever you decide to do.

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