Peter Cardy on keeping hold of intellectual property

Our columnist also advises on creeping corporatism and keeping winter illnesses at bay

Peter Cardy
Peter Cardy

Q - We have been working with a commercial partner who is both substantial and valuable to us. Out of the blue, its new web advertising not only has our logos and straplines, but also claims that any purchases will be good for our beneficiaries. What action can we take?

A - This suggests naive marketers' stupidity, rather than carefully considered piracy. But whether it's stupidity or cupidity, your partner has engaged in passing off, using your intellectual property and registered marks. A conversation with the partner's chief executive or chairman might reveal whether this was intentional. If so, ask for restitution, either financial or in kind. If not, then opt for compensation. Discuss what form this will take and decide whether or not to continue the partnership.

Q - I chair a regional group for a disability charity that has many supporters, even though it isn't well-known. It started 25 years ago as a grass-roots movement and has always felt like a community. Recently the trustees appointed one of their own as chief executive and there is now a more corporate feel to the organisation. We don't feel we are being listened to, staff who liaised with us have all been sacked and he has employed some of his highly paid chums. We think he is likely to drive the charity into the ground. How can we stop this from happening?

A - This is an all-too-common story. Trustees worry about the bottom line and introduce a business efficiency model to an organisation that isn't a business, and where relationships rather than efficiency are the drivers. If you feel strongly, you should make strenuous efforts to tell the trustees - they are responsible for the charity's strategy. If you feel totally alienated, you will have to shift allegiance to a cause that values you and your fellows, because no matter how much fuss you make, you are unlikely to derail the moving train. But if you quit, after a few months you will largely be forgotten. So think hard.

Q - We have open-plan offices and had a rough time with the 2014 flu epidemic - more than 40 per cent of staff were ill between December and February. I have not insisted on flu vaccinations, but the cost of having so many people off sick is huge, and having critical services for our beneficiaries out of action is intolerable. What would you advise?

A - This year you should insist your staff are vaccinated and refund the cost through expense claims. There are very few people with a genuine needle phobia, so exercise clemency only when you must. When the flu season starts, stop shaking hands, kiss and hug no one, and urge your colleagues to do likewise. Start a handwashing regime, get every surface cleaned at least four times a day and make sure there are paper hankies and bins. When colleagues show symptoms, send them home and don't let them return until they're well.

Sector veteran Peter Cardy offers answers to your workplace dilemmas. Contact him at

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