- Intellectual property includes inventions, designs, and ideas
- Typical forms of IP theft include copying or stealing designs, infringing on copyright, and counterfeiting
- Signs that IP has been stolen include someone using it without permission or profiting off of it
- Steps to take when IP is stolen involve gathering evidence, taking legal action, and protecting against future thefts
- Measures to safeguard IP include registering trademarks and copyrights and using digital watermarks.
As a business, you have a valuable asset in your intellectual property (IP). This includes the designs you create for your products. Unfortunately, intellectual property theft is common, especially in the business world. Whether it’s someone stealing your ideas, designs, or inventions, it can be a costly and time-consuming ordeal to deal with. If you find yourself in this situation, here are a few things you can do to try and rectify the situation.
What is an Intellectual Property
Intellectual properties are the products of creative thought, such as inventions, designs, or ideas. Intellectual property theft is a type of theft in which someone takes another’s intellectual property without permission and makes it their own. It can range from something as small as stealing a design concept to something more significant, like copying an entire product line.
Common forms of IP theft
There are various types of intellectual property theft. Some common forms include:
- Copying or stealing another’s designs, ideas, or inventions: This is when someone takes another’s design, idea, or invention and claims it as their own. It can be anything from a logo to an entire product line.
- Infringing on copyright: This is a type of theft where someone uses another’s copyrighted material without permission. This could mean using someone else’s artwork, music, or written work in their products or services.
- Counterfeiting: Counterfeiting involves making a copy of an original piece of work that is hard to distinguish from the original. It can be anything from counterfeit clothing to knockoff electronics.
How Do You Know if Your Intellectual Properties Were Stolen
In most cases, business owners are unaware that their intellectual property has been stolen until they find it used elsewhere or hear about it from a third party. If you see someone using your IP without permission, especially if they are profiting off of it, then this could indicate that your ideas were stolen.
What to Do When Your Intellectual Properties Were Stolen
If you discover someone has stolen your intellectual property, it’s time to act. Here are the steps you should take:
The first step in taking action when someone steals your intellectual property is to gather evidence. This means documenting all relevant information, including but not limited to dates and times of occurrence, emails exchanged between you and the offender, screenshots of the stolen material, etc.
If possible, hire a patent expert to help prove that the offender is using your intellectual property without permission. Find professionals who specialize in your specific industry. For instance, an equipment patent expert witness service is ideal if your machine designs were stolen. Their expertise in engineering and patents will be invaluable in building your case.
Take Legal Action
Suppose gathering evidence indicates that someone has stolen your intellectual property without permission or credit given to you as the creator or owner of the material in question. In that case, it’s time to consider taking legal action against them.
Depending on the severity of the situation, this may involve filing a civil lawsuit or even criminal charges against the offender. It’s important to note that other remedies are available such as sending them a cease-and-desist letter or demanding reparations for lost profits due to their infringement on your rights as an owner/creator.
Protect Yourself Against Future Thefts
Once you’ve taken steps to ensure justice is served regarding this particular theft, there are also measures you can take to ensure that something similar doesn’t happen again.
These include registering trademarks and copyrights for all original works created by you or employees working on behalf of your company; using digital watermarks on images; using signatures at the bottom of emails sent from accounts associated with your business; and making sure that all contracts involving the use of copyrighted material include clear language outlining use restrictions and penalties for violation/infringement upon these restrictions/terms.
Intellectual property theft is a serious problem that costs businesses billions of dollars annually. Suppose you believe your intellectual property has been stolen. In that case, there are steps you can take to protect yourself and your designs, from filing a complaint with the U.S. Copyright Office to working with a lawyer to pursue legal action. By taking these steps, you can help safeguard your business from IP theft and protect your designs from unauthorized use.