Intellectual property is the ownership of any innovation, material, or idea protected by patent, copyright, trade secret, or trademark laws. It can include poems, movies, books, songs, computer programs, company logos, mechanical inventions, chemical formulas, client lists, and more. Intellectual property theft is when someone knowingly uses, takes, or even steals your IP protected under IP laws. If you have the right IP protection, you can sue the person for money damages.
If you discover that your IP has been used without your consent or stolen, you can either ask them to stop or take matters to court. If you decide to sue the company or individual, you can have a process server to serve your lawsuit to the entity who infringed on your intellectual property.
However, even if you don’t plan to sue, it’s best to get legal advice. The different areas of IP laws, including trademarks, copyright, trade secrets, and patents, can become complicated, and your remedies and rights differ under each policy.
To help you out, here are different things you can do when someone uses, takes, or steals your intellectual property without your permission.
Send Requests to Stop Infringement
Most professionals will initially suggest that you contact the offender when you discover your IP has been stolen or used without your consent. You or your attorney can send a cease and desist letter to the offender to stop using your work. The letter should include information about your infringed property and the type of infringement violated.
You should indicate the action you want to take against the offender, such as removing the material from a website or stop using your trademark. It’s also better to include a time limit to respond to when you need to take further action.
Send Takedown Notices for Online Copyright Infringement
If an offender violates your copyright laws on the internet, you can send takedown notices to the infringer’s service providers, including ad networks or search engines under the DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act). This letter’s content is similar to the cease and desist letter; the only difference is that it should include the identification of the infringing property and its URL.
Submit a Request for Reexamination to the USPTO
If you believe a company or individual has received a patent IP law that infringes on yours, you can submit this letter to the USPTO (the United States Patent and Trademark Office). A reexamination request follows the belief that they have wrongfully granted a particular person or company the patent because the property was already described under your patent license.
Pursue Legal Action
Before taking any legal action for a copyright infringement case or patent infringement case, you need to ensure that your intellectual property is registered. If it’s not, you can’t recover money damages for the period your work is unregistered.
Depending on the infringement, you can file a criminal complaint, a civil suit, or both. You can handle copyright, patent, or trademark infringement in civil court. Depending on the damages you have suffered, you may be able to get paid for your losses, all or a portion of the offender’s profits from using your IP, punitive damages, and punitive damages.
Most IP infringement cases or suits are held in federal court, but if your case involves a trademark registered only with your state or an unregistered one, you will have to fill a lawsuit in state court.
IP laws can be complicated and can impose stringent penalties for violations, so it’s best to consult with professionals such as process servers and IP lawyers.