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What actions can you take if your intellectual property is stolen?

Whether your business is an up-and-coming startup or an established firm with years of reputable work and experience; you are equally at risk of having your intellectual property stolen. It is disheartening and upsetting to see your hard work used for the benefit of others without your permission or knowledge.  Fortunately, there are federal and state laws that offer protection for your ideas, designs and other works, also known as intellectual property.

What is intellectual property?

The creations, inventions and works of an individual or organization are considered intellectual property. This property is protected from use by others without permission and/or proper compensation according to certain areas of the law.

Intellectual property law consists of 4 categories of protections:

  • Copyright: protection of the creation of original content such as literary works, videos and music
  • Trade secrets: protection of confidential or private information related to a business that can be used to gain an economic or competitive advantage
  • Patents: protections related to the design of inventions
  • Trademarks: protections related to branding elements such as logos, phrases, words or symbols

What is intellectual property theft?

The unauthorized use of your ideas, inventions, products and creations is often considered intellectual property theft. The theft can be committed knowingly or unintentionally. However, any use of your works without your authorization can cause a number of damages to your business, your reputation and your finances.

What are your options if your intellectual property is stolen?

Intellectual property is a complex field of law and each category of intellectual property law offers different protections and remedies in civil court for individuals whose rights have been infringed upon. The protection of your intellectual property takes effort and persistence to ensure not only that unauthorized users cease using and profiting from your work but also that you are compensated for the damages you have incurred as a result of the theft.

In some cases, intellectual property theft may be classified as a crime and your cooperation and reporting of the theft to the proper authorities can help prevent future incidents.  

How can you protect your intellectual property investment?

When your intellectual property is stolen, time is of the essence. The moment you become aware that theft of your work has occurred you should contact an intellectual property attorney to discuss your case. Taking swift action against those responsible for violating your rights can help to minimize financial losses and damage caused to your business.