Intellectual property refers to creative assets that fall under the protection of federal laws. These laws give rights to those who produce IP but only under specific circumstances.
In some cases, an intellectual property violation is a federal crime. However, whether they are criminal in nature, the IP owner may have the right to pursue civil justice.
Determine legal standing
The law does not provide recourse for IP infringement in all cases. When creators discover an infringement, they must determine if they have any legal standing to sue. Federal laws protect the following IP categories:
- Copyright: The works that writers, musicians and other artists create are copyrighted the moment artists create them. However, the law does not allow creators to pursue a civil claim unless they register their copyright.
- Patents: Inventors who wish legal protection for their technical inventions must obtain a patent. Patent protection generally lasts for 20 years.
- Trademark: Federal law protects identifying words, phrases or designs companies, individuals or brands use, but only when the owner obtains a registered trademark.
If you have legal standing, you can take action against the offender.
Litigation may not always be desirable. Creators who notice infringement may simply wish for the offender to cease the violation. However, it may be necessary to pursue an injunction and a claim for damages in more serious cases.
When creators discover an IP violation, they should act as quickly as possible. If they would rather not pursue a claim, then sending a cease-and-desist letter may be sufficient.
If the offender does not stop or when the creator wants to pursue damages, filing an injunction and lawsuit may be necessary.