What is intellectual property?
Intellectual property is the ownership of an innovation. This can be a commercial product, an artistic creation, a method or formula, a unique symbol, a logo, a name, or any other creation or invention. Intellectual property laws protect the following creations:
- Industrial machinery
- Computer programs
- Smartphone designs
- Business processes
- Client lists, and more
Intellectual property theft occurs when someone takes your intellectual property (such as your business logo) without your permission and uses it as their own. If you have the proper protections you can sue for damages when this theft occurs.
Unfortunately, intellectual property theft is an easy crime to commit and can be highly profitable for the thief. Meanwhile, for the person/business/organization being stolen from, property theft can result in a huge loss of profit, business, and reputation among other things. What kinds of intellectual property protections are there? There are four different types of intellectual property protections, and they include:
Copyrights defend authored works. They include poems, books, music, movies, paintings,
photography, and software. They include everything from thesis papers to new works of art.
Trademarks protect symbols, phrases, words designs and anything else that might define, identify, or distinguish the source of goods from competitors. Trademarks include things like McDonalds’s golden arches, and Pepsi’s logo.
3. Trade secrets
Trade secrets include any information that gives one business it’s competitive edge and is not
publicly known, like the secret formula to Coca-Cola or KFC.
Patents protect inventions, business processes, and new innovations. This includes everything from new lab-created plant species to mop designs.
What should I do if I think someone has stolen my intellectual property?
If you think that someone has stolen your intellectual property you can easily report the theft. There are various outlets to which you can report to, however the type of property theft determines which resource you use since they are all tailored to specific areas.
If the culprit is convicted, they can expect to face harsh penalties. Intellectual property theft is usually prosecuted as a federal crime and can result in fines; imprisonment; loss of business licenses; and the seizure of stolen properties, among other things.
When pursuing the case, your attorney will file a complaint in state or federal court outlining the details of the case which will include: the defendants name, the allegations and facts of the case, and the requests of damage relief. Following this is the investigation in which each party requests information from the other, creates strategies, and asks questions in a deposition.
In intellectual property theft cases, the depositions are incredibly important. Often they are a lengthly part of the process and so detail oriented that confusion for both parties can often arise—if your facts are proven to be incorrect in the deposition, or if some kind of misunderstanding arises, it can devastate your case.
The settlement process begins after this. If no outcome is agreed upon during the settlement process then the case may go to trial, and even then the outcome of the trial can be appealed.