Following a recent study, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are being urged to take action when faced with intellectual property (IP) infringement.

The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has found that one in five SMEs have encountered issues relating to IP infringement at least once over the past five years.

However, as many as 29 per cent of SMEs told the FSB’s survey that they had not taken any legal action whatsoever upon finding or suspecting that their IP rights had been infringed.

The study found that many small businesses do not fully understand the law surrounding IP – and are unsure where they stand in terms of their legal rights.

Other companies are perhaps fearful that fighting against IP infringement could prove time-consuming, complex and potentially costly.

A number of design bodies, including the Design Council and the Creative Industries Federation (CIF), are urging SMEs to take action if they find their IP has been breached and that their unique products are at risk of losing business to unlawful companies selling cheaper imitations.

The calls come after research carried out by the CIF recently found that the design sector generates an estimated £71.1bn to the UK economy.

It is important for a business to not only protect its IP, but to maintain and enforce any IP infringement it suspects has taken place.

Once IP infringement has been identified, it is imperative businesses respond in a fast and effective manner in order to prevent any deemed acceptance of the IP infringement or, ultimately, the loss of the IP right itself.