What are patent, trademark and copyright infringement?

On Behalf of | Jun 4, 2024 | Intellectual Property |

Individuals and businesses with intellectual property (IP) must ensure that these assets are protected so they’re the only ones who reap the benefits of the IP. One of the most effective ways to protect IP is by registering it with the appropriate agency. This can take time, effort and money, but the protection is often worth it.

Unfortunately, even when IP is registered, there’s still a chance it will be infringed upon. Patent, trademark and copyright infringement are serious matters that require immediate action. IP that’s infringed upon takes away the owner’s exclusive use of the IP and can have a negative impact on their brand and income.

Patent infringement

Patent infringement occurs when an individual or entity makes, uses, sells or imports a patented invention without the permission of the patent holder. Patents generally provide exclusive rights to the inventor or assignee to exclude others from exploiting the invention for a specific period, typically 20 years from the filing date.

Direct infringement occurs when the patented invention is used or sold without authorization. Indirect infringement happens when someone contributes to or induces another party to infringe on the patent. To establish patent infringement, the patent holder must prove that the allegedly infringing product or process falls within the scope of the patent’s claims.

Trademark infringement

Trademark infringement involves the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark in a way that is likely to cause confusion, deception or misunderstanding about the source of the goods or services. Trademarks are distinctive signs, symbols, logos or names that identify and distinguish the goods or services of one party from those of others.

Infringement involves a mark similar or identical to a registered trademark being used on related goods or services, leading to consumer confusion. To prove trademark infringement, the trademark owner must demonstrate that they have a valid, protectable trademark and that the defendant’s use of a similar mark is likely to cause confusion among consumers.

Copyright infringement

Copyright infringement occurs when a copyrighted work is reproduced, distributed, performed, publicly displayed or made into a derivative work without the permission of the copyright holder. Copyright protects original works of authorship, such as literary, musical and artistic works, for a specific duration, typically the life of the author plus 70 years.

Infringement can occur even if the infringer didn’t intend to violate the copyright holder’s rights. To establish copyright infringement, the copyright owner must prove ownership of a valid copyright and demonstrate that the infringer copied protected elements of the work, either directly or through substantial similarity.

Prosecuting IP infringement is often a complex undertaking. Anyone who’s dealing with an infringement concern should ensure they understand exactly what they need to do to protect their IP. A legal representative can assist with this and help to set a plan for legal action.


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