In the age of the Internet and in an increasingly digital world, Intellectual property is some of the most valuable property of all. Consider, for example, the design for Apple’s iPhone or iPad and how much the designs for these products are worth.
While most people know that intellectual property disputes arise frequently in cases involving software and hardware, intellectual property goes far beyond just designs for phones, computers, and other electronic devices. Everything from shredded wheat cereal to the recipe for ketchup to the trademark for UGGs is protected by intellectual property laws. When those laws are violated, complex issues can arise and defending your intellectual property rights can be very difficult.
Thankfully, experienced intellectual property lawyers, like the team at Sydney’s Owen Hodge lawyers are available to help navigate these important laws.
Protecting Your Rights in Intellectual Property Disputes
Intellectual property disputes can span the globe and can be very complicated. Consider, for example, the ongoing intellectual property litigation between Apple and Samsung, in which Apple claims Samsung has violated its patents. The companies were litigating patent disputes for multiple years in nine countries including Australia, the United States, Japan, South Korea, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
In the Australia case, a federal court judge in 2011 granted Apple’s request for an injunction against the Galaxy tab, putting a crimp in Samsung’s holiday sales. In 2014, several years after the IP litigation in Australia initially took place, Samsung and Apple agreed to drop all litigation between the two companies outside the United States. This decision came after one jury ordered Samsung to pay $119 million for infringing on Apple’s patents and two juries in previous cases had awarded $929 million in damages for patent violations. The agreement the two companies came to didn’t resolve any issues with licensing agreements and the companies were going to keep going with U.S. litigation.
The Apple and Samsung cases are just one of many examples of intellectual property litigation that has arisen over the year and patents are only one of many tools used to protect intellectual property rights. Patents are registered to protect intellectual property related to how inventions function or how processes occur (for example, you can patent a method of making something). You can also:
- Register a design, to protect the look of a product.
- Register a copyright to protect an original expression of an idea.
- Register a trademark to protect a name, symbol, or phrase used to identify a particular brand, particular product, or particular service provider (like the Gucci brand or the Uggs brand or the Nike Just Do It! phrase)
Once intellectual property has been registered, you own the rights to it- but will need to fight for those rights if someone does not respect the rules.
How to Enforce Intellectual Property Rights
A number of techniques can be used to fight to protect your intellectual property rights. You can:
- Send a demand letter telling a person or a business to stop using the protected intellectual property without your permission. You don’t have to send a letter of demand, but sometimes this is enough to solve the problem without further legal action.
- Negotiate an out-of-court settlement or use alternative intellectual property dispute resolution. The company or person who infringed on your rights may agree to stop doing so, to pay you for damages, or to license the right to your intellectual property. If you can come to an agreement, litigation is not necessary.
- Litigate the intellectual property issue. You can go to court and ask the court to protect your rights. The court can issue an injunction to stop someone from illegally using your intellectual property and can require payment be made to you from those who unlawfully infringed on your rights.
- Ask customs to seize infringing goods. If items are being imported that violate your intellectual property rights, you can ask customs to seize the items. This is a temporary solution, as customs will only hold the items for 10 days until you get a court order.
Owen Hodge’s Sydney-based intellectual property lawyers can help you to explore the different options you have for protecting your intellectual property. Give us a call at 1800 770 780 or contact us via [email protected] to learn more about how we can help.