As an intellectual property (IP) holder, you have a responsibility to do your best to defend your rights from potential infringement.
First, it’s important to understand the different types of IP and any special steps you may want to take to defend your rights. You’ll then want to familiarize yourself with some of the steps IP owners can take when someone infringes upon their rights.
What are the most common types of intellectual property?
The four primary types of IP rights are:
- Trademarks: These can take the form of logos, designs, phrases, words or symbols and serve the role of distinguishing your company or brand from others.
- Patents: Many parties secure protections for their business processes, product designs or blueprints by securing this IP right.
- Trade secrets: These may include recipes, business insight or any other proprietary information away from competitors
- Copyrights: You may place this on any creative or intellectual work, such as music, a film script or literature.
You must take necessary measures to protect your IP rights, such as sending a cease-and-desist letter if someone uses your trademark despite being unauthorized to do so. As for your trade secrets, you may only allow a set amount of people who have signed a non-disclosure agreement to access that proprietary information.
How should you respond to a violation of your intellectual property rights?
You should document all potential infringements of your intellectual property rights, including:
- Acquiring a specimen of the suspected counterfeit item
- Taking screenshots or photographs of the potential violation
- Documenting the website where you discovered the infringement
- Determining your monetary loss caused by the infringement
- Documenting who might have accessed your IP and how they might have done it
- Writing down any gains someone might have made from violating your IP rights
What may seem like a violation of your IP rights might not be. For example, the Fair Use Act allows some institutions to use copywritten works for limited, non-profit educational value. You might have to meet some requirements before filing a lawsuit against an alleged infringer. It’s important that you know your obligations before investing more time and money in adjudicating your case.