Intellectual property theft is the act of an individual or business stealing trade secrets, inventions, creations, and even property from an individual or group by illicit means. Intellectual property is often protected under patent or trademark laws, handled by the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), and the penalties if convicted of intellectual property (IP) theft can be serious, especially if the charges are elevated to federal charges.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation puts significant resources towards investigating and prosecuting IP theft and piracy under their white-collar crimes initiatives, and facing charges levied against you by the FBI can be overwhelming at best. This is why it is so important that you work with an experienced and aggressive federal crimes lawyer who can help you navigate this complicated situation from the start. Federal prosecutors seek aggressive convictions and penalties in criminal cases, and you will greatly benefit from having a federal defense attorney representing your case and helping you through the entire process.
Read more below to get a general overview of intellectual property theft, especially at the federal level. Contact us as soon as possible in order to request an initial consultation so that we can discuss your charges and your situation in specific detail and get a better understanding of how we can work together through this entire process towards a reasonable resolution.
What Is Intellectual Property?
According to Cornell Law School’s Legal Information Institute, “intellectual property is any product of the human intellect that the law protects from unauthorized use by others. The ownership of intellectual property inherently creates a limited monopoly in the protected property. Intellectual property is traditionally comprised of four categories: patent, copyright, trademark, and trade secrets.”
Essentially, intellectual property is any “creation of the mind” that an individual or business uses to create a competitive advantage or a way to distinguish themselves from the competition. Intellectual property is legally registered and protected by way of patents, copyrights, and trademarks, whereas trade secrets do not need to be registered in order to be protected.
A patent is a legal tool that provides protection for the patent owner so that they can use their invention or creation without fear of their intellectual property being replicated by a competitor while the patent is active.
A trademark is protected in a similar way as a patent and is handled by the same agency (USPTO), but instead of protecting an invention, a trademark is applied to things like logos, words, symbols, and designs that distinguish the goods of one manufacturer from others.
A copyright is a legal right that a copyright holder has for reproducing, selling, and distributing a unique work such as a piece of art, music, or written document. These protections are clarified in the U.S Copyright Act.
As indicated above, trade secrets have similar protections to patents, trademarks, and copyrights, but they do not need to be officially registered in order to be protected. Trade secrets can be any type of formula, process, pattern, device, program, or other design that gives the holder a specific advantage or method to create a unique and valuable product or service, and is not generally known.
Federal Charges of Intellectual Property Theft
Being charged with intellectual property theft is a serious allegation, with serious consequences if convicted. Depending on the nature of the alleged IP theft, charges may stem from a variety of laws and acts, including the Copyright Act, the U.S. Constitution’s Copyright and Patent Clause, the Commerce Clause, the Lanham Act, the Patent Act, combinations of violations of these acts, or many other possible situations depending on the act in question.
Depending on the nature of the alleged IP theft, the consequences can have major impacts to an individual or a company, including fines, civil penalties including restitution, or possibly even more serious penalties if charged under the Economic Espionage Act.
Contact us as soon as possible if you are either under investigation or have been charged with any degree of intellectual property theft in the United States. Having the right representation for your legal defense is essential for finding the proper methods for seeking a resolution while ensuring that your rights are upheld throughout the entire process. When you work with the Law Office of Vikas Bajaj, APC, you can be confident in your legal counsel.