As a creative professional or small business owner, you likely have unique works, logos, or images that you wish to protect. Even if you haven’t taken formal steps to register a copyright or trademark, you still have intellectual property (IP) rights if someone else tries to use and profit from your work without your permission. If you suspect that someone is infringing on your IP rights, here are some steps you can take to protect your intellectual property from unauthorized use.
Enforcing Intellectual Property Rights
It’s up to you to protect your IP. This means that you should be on the lookout for potential infringement and, should you find an instance of infringement, it will be up to you to take action. Ignoring infringement can limit your rights. In the case of trademarks, for example, if you let other people use your mark enough, it could fall victim to “genericide” — the brand name becoming synonymous with a type of product. “Aspirin” and “escalator” used to be protected brand names, but lost that protection because their owners didn’t take steps to maintain their brand identity — such as putting an end to infringement when they discovered it.
Taking Action Against IP Infringement
So don’t ignore infringement. When you suspect someone is violating your IP rights, you should contact a trusted IP law attorney to discuss your case. Your attorney will assess the specifics of your case and help you determine the most strategic path forward. In many cases, the problem can be solved with a “cease and desist letter,” warning them that you’re aware of their unauthorized use of your intellectual property and that they need to stop all actions immediately. This usually works well when the infringing party has used your intellectual property unintentionally.
Exploring Your Legal Options For Stopping IP Infringement
But not everyone agrees to “cease and desist.” Sometimes that’s because the infringer sees a benefit — usually profit — from using your IP and doesn’t want to give it up. More often, it’s because they don’t think what they’re doing infringes on your work. In either situation, your IP attorney may recommend you take legal action to protect and preserve your rights. A court can decide if the other party is infringing your work, and if they are, has an array of remedies available. These include ordering the infringer to stop using your intellectual property, awarding damages for profits your company lost because of the infringement, ordering that the defendant give up any profits it made by infringing, and in some cases, ordering the infringer to pay your attorney fees. Not all of these remedies will be appropriate in every case. Which remedies are available will depend on the details of each case, and your attorney can talk you through the possibilities in your case.
If you need help navigating an intellectual property dispute in Minneapolis or St. Paul, reach out to a trusted IP attorney by calling Rubric Legal LLC today at (612) 465-0074.