There are four primary types of protection for intellectual property: copyright, trade secrets law, trademarks, and patents. Each of the different types of intellectual property, from company brand logos to mechanical processes to movies or written works, receives specific protections under the appropriate laws.
If your intellectual property rights are violated, you need to understand how the relevant laws work and pursue an appropriate legal remedy. Violations of intellectual property rights could be a crime, with those who violated the law potentially subject to imprisonment. Those who are harmed by the violation could also pursue civil remedies in court, both to stop the infringing behavior and to obtain damages for losses which result from the intellectual property violation.
The remedies for intellectual property infringement will vary depending upon what type of intellectual property rights were violated, the extent of the damage, and the legal remedies which victims of the violation decide to pursue.
In most cases, victims of an intellectual property violation will file a civil lawsuit in a court of law. Any criminal proceedings for the violation will proceed independently of a civil case, and criminal proceedings can be initiated only by government authorities and not by wronged individuals whose rights were violated, though they can report the violation to the authorities.
When filing a civil lawsuit, victims of intellectual property infringement will usually seek monetary damages. If they can prove they suffered losses because their protected intellectual property was used without their permission, they should be awarded damages for the specific financial loss. For example, TorrentFreak reports a BitTorrent pirate was ordered by a federal court to pay $1.5 million in damages for illegally sharing movies.
Victims of intellectual property infringement could also seek an injunction. An injunction is a court order stopping an action or compelling an action. Injunctions are common in cases involving trade secrets. A defendant could be ordered, for example, not to publish a secret proprietary recipe stolen from an employer or a defendant could be ordered to return a confidential client list which was taken from a former employer. An injunction is an equitable remedy and the plaintiff has to prove substantial damage would occur if the court did not issue an injunction compelling the defendant to act or barring the defendant from acting.
To obtain a legal remedy for intellectual property violations, the victim will need to prove a violation has actually occurred. Defendants could raise different arguments to try to avoid consequences, including claiming there was no violation because of fair use exceptions. For example, a copyrighted work could be used in a parody to fall within the fair use exception. There are many other examples of fair use exceptions, along with other defenses, depending upon the circumstances. Victims also need to prove the extent of harm from the intellectual property infringement so an appropriate legal remedy may be determined based on the specifics of the situation.