Intellectual property is one of the most valuable assets a business has. While the merchandise and other structures have considerable value, intellectual property sets one company apart from another, giving them a competitive advantage.
Intellectual property (IP) theft is a serious crime that can have catastrophic consequences. In some cases, the damage can be difficult, if not impossible, to undo.
IP theft can be a complex crime with a dramatic impact on people and their businesses; here’s what to know about it.
What damage does IP theft do?
People spend significant time creating intellectual property for their companies. The IP may translate to an efficient process, a unique product or another characteristic that sets their business apart.
When someone steals their IP, it can have a devastating effect, including:
- Losing brand recognition
- Decreasing profits
- Losing traction in competition with other businesses
In some cases, a company may not be able to recover, even after the thief is caught, because of the extent of the damage.
At what point is it IP theft?
In some cases, IP theft can be challenging to define. People often see an idea that leads them to think of a way to improve or change a product or concept.
However, when it is time to look at IP theft, there is typically an overt act where someone takes knowledge that did not belong to them for their own gain and to the detriment of the owner. In some cases, these can become federal crimes, including:
- Counterfeit trademarks
- Copyright infringement
- Trade secret theft
- Counterfeit labeling
These crimes can come with significant fines and jail time. Facing a conviction could have a devastating impact. If you or someone you know is facing intellectual property theft charges, it is essential to speak to a skilled professional.