If you own intellectual property (IP) rights, then you likely do your best to protect them. Infringers often know all the tricks of the trade to get around your protection efforts and infringe upon your IP rights.
It’s critical that you know what steps you can take to enforce your rights if someone violates them.
Getting to know the different intellectual property rights
Four of the most common IP rights are as follows:
- Copyrights: You can obtain these for films, literature, artwork, music and various other types of creative intellectual materials.
- Patents: These allow you to preserve blueprints, designs, business processes and other exclusive information key to the creative or manufacturing process.
- Trademarks: A trademark sets your brand apart from others. Symbols, phrases, logos, words or designs can be trademarked.
- Trade secrets: These are key to your product’s or operational success. They may be protected by having your employees sign nondisclosure agreements where they agree not to share your proprietary information.
It’s your responsibility as an IP holder to take necessary measures to protect your rights.
What should you do if someone violates your intellectual property rights?
It’s critical that you document any potential violation of your intellectual property rights. You may find it helpful to take some of the following steps to do so:
- Document the website where you identified the potential infringement.
- Take photographs or screenshots of the suspected violation.
- Request a sample of the alleged counterfeited product.
- Make a list of who might have gained access to your IP.
- Assess the benefits the suspected IP thief may derive from stealing it.
- Assign a monetary value to your stolen IP.
A suspected case of infringement may not be what it seems. Take, for example, the Copyright Act’s Fair Use Rule that lawfully allows someone to research, teach, comment on, criticize or report on someone else’s copyrighted work.
An attorney will want to know more about the suspected infringement and see the evidence that you’ve compiled before advising you whether you have a valid claim.