November 2018 - MLP Law

Solicitors Firm Sees 65% Increase in Deals as Companies Move into the North West

A North West law firm has reported a 65% increase in deals across the region’s SME’s over the last 12 months. MLP Law has seen the number of deals they have acted for increase significantly over the 12 months to September 2018 compared to the same period ending in 2017.

The firm saw an increase across all types of transactions, but particularly in Management Buy Outs and a trend of Employee Owned Companies. The number of deals the firm’s six-strong corporate and commercial team acted on ranged across all sectors, however the tech, digital, hospitality and engineering sectors were particularly active during the 12 month period. As well as a number of deals taking place between North West companies, the firm has also reported a growing number of businesses from outside the region moving in.

Stephen Attree, Managing Director at MLP Law said:

“The deals market has been slowly picking up pace over the past two to three years but we’ve noticed this accelerate over the last 12 months.

“We’ve particularly seen transactions pick up at the smaller end of the SME scale – with several deals in the £2 – £5 million bracket.

“The trend for businesses either buying into or buying out companies in the region has been one we’ve been interested to observe.  The North West is a great place both to live and to do business and it seems a growing number of companies are recognizing this.”

The figures come following a busy period for the Altrincham-based firm, which itself has been involved in a transaction over the last 18 months. In June 2017, MLP Law announced a deal which saw them acquire WH Lill; taking on its partners and staff and bringing the firm’s overall headcount up to 46.


Having recently added two new solicitors to their commercial department, MLP is looking to further bolster its team to support growth plans over the coming 12 months.

Known for their specialism in the tech, digital, healthcare and hospitality sectors, MLP Law has four offices across the North West – in Altrincham, Liverpool, Lymm, and Media City.


What is Intellectual Property and how do I protect it?

Intellectual Property (IP) is a term used to describe a range of legal rights that attach to certain types of ideas and information and to their form of expression.  It is crucial that businesses are aware of different IP rights to ensure that they: protect what they create; maximise their competitive position; and avoid infringing the IP rights of other businesses.


Types of IP


Copyright protects original artistic, musical, dramatic and literary works, including computer programs, sound recordings, films and broadcasts.  Copyright protects the expression of an idea (rather than the idea itself).  It protects against actual copying of another’s work.  It does not protect against independent development of the same idea.  Copyright arises automatically on the creation of the work.  It generally lasts for 70 years following the death of the author.


Trade Marks

A trade mark is a sign or symbol used by a business to distinguish its products or services from those of another.  It can be a brand name, company logo or trading style.  To be registrable, a trade mark must be capable of: being represented graphically; distinguishing goods or services; distinctive and not excluded by statute.  Trade mark owners can apply for a UK or an EU trade mark.  Both registrations initially last for ten years and are renewable.


Passing Off

The goodwill in a business’ name or brand can also be protected by an action for passing off.  It is based on the principle that goods and services are not to be sold under the pretence that they are the goods and services of another.   It requires: a goodwill or reputation attached to the relevant goods or services; a misrepresentation that could mislead the public; and evidence of damage.  An action for passing off can be both difficult and expensive which is often why businesses choose to register a trademark.



Patents provide inventors with a legal monopoly over inventions by protecting new and inventive technical features, products and processes.  To qualify for protection, an invention must be: new; involve an inventive step; be capable of industrial protection; and not specifically excluded from protection.  In most countries, patents last for 20 years.


Design Rights

Design rights protect the appearance of the whole or part of a product.  They can be registered or unregistered:


  • Registered designs – must be: novel; of individual character; and not excluded by statute. Design owners can apply for a UK or an EU registered design.  Protection lasts for 25 years with registrations renewed every five years.


  • Unregistered designs – protection arises automatically on creation of the design and provides protection against copying of the design.


Confidential Information

It is possible to protect sensitive information through rights in confidential information e.g. know-how and trade secrets.  To be enforceable, the information must be: confidential in nature; disclosed in circumstances in which an obligation of confidence arises (e.g. relationship of employer and employee); and its unauthorised use must be detrimental.  Whilst not strictly an IP right, confidential information protects commercial and technical information and does not need to be registered.


Get in touch

If you would like further information about protecting your IP, or believe that your IP is being infringed by another business, please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 926 9969 or by email