Norwich Pharmacal Orders and online service providers
Produced in partnership with Tom Ohta of BT and Toby Headdon, Faye Harrison and Harry Taylor of Bristows LLP
Norwich Pharmacal Orders and online service providers

The following IP guidance note Produced in partnership with Tom Ohta of BT and Toby Headdon, Faye Harrison and Harry Taylor of Bristows LLP provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Norwich Pharmacal Orders and online service providers
  • Balancing of rights in a digital landscape
  • Duties of online service providers towards their users—data protection issues under the GDPR
  • Considerations for online service providers upon receiving an application for Norwich Pharmacal relief
  • Can Norwich Pharmacal relief be sought against all online service providers?
  • Costs
  • Jurisdictional considerations
  • Conclusion

This Practice Note considers some of the specific issues that may arise in the context of Norwich Pharmacal applications against online service providers. For further information regarding the general principles relating to Norwich Pharmacal Orders (NPOs), see Practice Note: Norwich Pharmacal orders (NPOs).

The ability to act anonymously via the internet is often exploited to undertake unlawful acts such as infringing intellectual property rights or publishing defamatory comments. At the same time, with every click of the mouse or swipe of our smartphone, a digital footprint is usually left even where done with the intention of acting anonymously. The ability to match that digital footprint to the alleged wrongdoer often requires the disclosure of identifying information held by online service providers. For example:

  1. defamatory posts published on a website―website operators will often require users to register their details (eg name, address, email) in order to publish content on their site. The website may also log the internet protocol (IP) address from which the user first registered and/or posted content. Such information may be needed to enable a potential claimant to go behind an online assumed name and identify who is behind the anonymous unlawful activity

  2. IP address(es) linked to unlawful activity―it may be possible to identify IP addresses that are linked to unlawful activity (particularly in the context of file-sharing). However, potential