For most businesses, intellectual property (IP) is an essential part of day-to-day operations – and their most valuable resource. However, as IP is often intangible property, protecting it is not always an easy task. This was especially difficult in the past. Today, the U.S. has a set of laws that help you protect your IP and take legal action against anyone who infringes on your rights.
What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property takes on many forms. Examples include patents, trademarks, digital assets, trade secrets, and copyrights. In many cases, IP carries more value than the business’s other physical assets, which is why protecting it is so important to the company’s future.
If you have intellectual property, you also have Intellectual Property Rights (IPR). Some of these IPRs are automatic while others take proactive action on the part of the owner. These rights ensure that no one can use your IP in any way without prior authorization. This includes mimicking or recreating your work – with or without the goal of making a profit.
If you find that someone has used your IP in some way without your permission, your IPRs allow you to take legal action against them. The penalties for this range from significant fines to prison time. The specific penalties depend on the situation and circumstances of the case.
Proving IP theft: Evidence is the key to winning your lawsuit over IP infringement. Some options include:
- Document how and when your IP was used without your permission.
- Gather evidence related to the theft, like web addresses, screenshots, and samples.
- Determine the cost of the IP theft to your business (as much as possible).
It can be frustrating to find that your intellectual property is being used or misused. Know that you can fight back.