How Do You Prove Theft of Intellectual Property?
Intellectual property is often the bedrock of any successful business. With it, a company is able to distinguish itself while preventing others from profiting from their property, including names, symbols, inventions, designs, and innovations. Without intellectual property laws, a company may be faced with competing for profit from an original idea.
The following are the three most frequently seen types of intellectual property:
- Trademarks: Words, phrases, symbols, and graphics that are used to differentiate one product from another.
- Copyrights: Photographs, paintings, writings, music, and software.
- Trade Secrets: Any information that is useful to a firm but is typically unknown by others.
Intellectual Property Rights
It is critical to understand your intellectual property rights in order to determine if a person or corporation has infringed on them. Trademark owners, for example, have the right to prevent others from using a trademark that is identical or similar to theirs, unless the other party was already using it legally. Work that is shown, reproduced, copied, disseminated, or utilized in the creation of “derivative works” without the express agreement of the original owner is considered a copyright infringement. Trade secret owners can restrict anyone from duplicating, utilizing, or profiting from the knowledge without their permission. They can also prohibit the information from being disclosed if the guilty party has signed a nondisclosure agreement. Those who steal the information can be held responsible for misappropriation.
If you suspect someone else is profiting from the unlawful use of your intellectual property, it is smart to keep track of the theft as soon as you realize it. You must prove that the offender had access to your work or information, and you must keep a record of when they used it. Collect evidence in the form of screenshots, samples of the copied data, and other data trails. It’s also crucial to confirm that the claimed theft was indeed a theft and not a case of fair usage, which covers non-commercial, educational, or satirical uses.
Contact a lawyer to help determine whether your intellectual property has been stolen and the next steps in pursuing the parties responsible for the theft.