Infringement is a legal term which is used when your intellectual property rights are encroached on in some way. So if you have an exclusive right to publish a work, and someone else publishes it without your permission, they are infringing your rights. Infringement is most commonly used when someone without permission: copies or uses your copyright;
- makes a product invented by a person who holds a patent over it;
- uses a sign to promote their goods or services which is similar to that of a trademark owner.
If your creative work is copied, or someone sells your patented invention, or if a rival takes advantage of your reputation by using a similar trademark, you would probably want to take legal action to stop the infringement, and claim damages.
The owner of IP has the exclusive right to benefit economically from it. However, infringement breaches that right because it tends to
- divert sales of goods and services to the infringer;
- reduce demand for sales;
- eliminate the advantage your products had over those of competitors.
Taking action against infringement will deter other potential infringers, and the consequences can be severe for infringers, for example:
- IP infringement can result in criminal sanctions where piracy is involved;
- you may be entitled to recover profits arising from the infringement;
- or you may sue for the loss of future or past business.
In the digital world, infringement is a problem due to how swiftly a copy of a work can circulate.
Sometimes people unwittingly use media, such as images belonging to others, without understanding the copyright implications. For example, a web designer may mistakenly use content found online and assume it is acceptable to use it on a site. In that case both the designer and the site owner are liable and could be sued.
A major reason infringement occurs online is that people wrongly assume that on the internet everything is public domain and available to use freely.
To protect your business and your brand it is important to monitor potential infringement of your intellectual property, and react quickly, but wisely when it happens. The dispute resolution option you choose to tackle infringement will depend on your business and your objectives.
Whether you have been accused of IP infringement, or believe a third party is infringing your intellectual property, Azrights can help you find a solution, protect against future infringement and develop your IP Strategy.