Intellectual property infringement may refer to violation of a copyright, a trademark, a patent or a trade secret. However, each of these is different. A person who has written something that is published or unpublished, including a novel, a television show or website, generally owns the copyright. If someone else takes the work and claims it as their own without permission, this is copyright infringement.
Trademarks may be words, symbols or logos that identify a particular product. The idea behind a trademark is to separate a product from other, similar products. If a company starts to use a trademark that is already in use, that may be considered an infringement on that company’s trademarks.
Patents are usually given to inventors of a product. The patent holder has the right to use, make, import and sell the product or give others the permission to do so. If another individual or company does so without permission, this could constitute patent infringement. Trade secrets consist of information that a company exclusively possesses. This could be a recipe, a computer code or a pricing algorithm. Stealing another company’s product specifications is an example of trade secret theft.
If a company believes that it has been the victim of intellectual property infringement, an attorney may be able to assist. Intellectual property infringement may occur in a variety of contexts and situations, and the appropriate response is dependent upon these. For example, if an individual is using a trademarked symbol or words on a website, often a notice to remove it may be sufficient. However, in other cases, intellectual property infringement could be committed by a disgruntled employee or ex-employee or by a competitor. The cost to a company of having trade secrets or other intellectual property stolen could be significant.