Protect Your Intellectual Property: What is IP Theft & How to Avoid It
The numbers are undeniable – intellectual property theft is on the rise, and unfortunately for business owners, it’s getting worse and worse every year.
No matter if you are a large corporation or a small business, IP theft poses a serious threat to the livelihood of your brand. In fact, pirated software, counterfeit goods, trade secret theft, and other forms of IP theft cost businesses across the world billions of dollars every single year.
But while IP theft is on the rise – it can be fought with intellectual property protection.
In this article, we will examine what intellectual property theft is and the most effective ways to avoid it, or in a worst case scenario, fight it, so your business gets the revenue it deserves.
What is IP theft?
Before we get into IP protection, let’s make sure we are all on the same page about exactly what IP theft is first.
Intellectual property is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human mind and intellect.
This refers to ideas, original works, inventions, the design of products, scientific developments, artistic creations, and so on.
While these ideas are technically intangible, they are still original creations, and they can be protected under the court of law.
What is intellectual property protection?
While there is evidence that intellectual property protection started in the 6th century, it wasn’t until the past 100 years that it became commonplace in legal systems around the world.
Nowadays, intellectual property is protected with legal contracts such as patents, copyrights, trademarks, trade secrets, and more.
Legal documents and procedures such as these offer incentives for businesses and individuals to create and protect ideas that are able to generate money.
Why should a business consider IP protection?
There is always value in scarcity – especially when it’s coupled with demand. Therefore, if a business or individual has an original idea and they suspect that that idea is likely to have demand, then applying for protection gives them proof of unique ownership of that idea.
This is why all successful businesses ensure they are protecting their intellectual property – they know that their impact is invaluable.
What is intellectual property theft?
IP theft is when a trademark, copyright, or other intellectual property document is ignored. Sometimes this happens by accident – for example, when two different people or organizations coincidentally think of the same idea – but most times, intellectual property theft is intentional.
The loss incurred from IP theft can be unlimited and prolonged as the infringement doesn’t just affect the short-term income of your business but also long-term damage of compromising your brand’s identity, sustainability, and reputation.
Here are a few examples of intellectual property theft:
- Patent Infringement: Patents typically protect inventions. Patent infringement occurs when a patented invention, idea, or product is used by someone other than the original owner.
- Counterfeit goods are rampant worldwide and are among the most common forms of intellectual property theft. Also, it’s worth noting that sometimes there is an overlap between ‘counterfeit goods’ and ‘infringement of goods’ depending on the country you are doing business in.
- Trademark infringement: Another common form of IP theft, over 85% of brands say that they have experienced trademark infringement in some capacity. Trademark infringement means that a third party is making unauthorized use of a trademark – often mimicking both the product and the logo/branding.
- Copyright infringement: Copyrights are typically given to works of art such as music, film, television and books. Copyright infringement refers to the reproduction or use of a copyrighted work without the owner’s permission.
- Trade secret violation: Confidential information, such as trade secrets, are typically protected by NDAs (non-disclosure agreements).
How to avoid IP theft in 3 ways
While IP theft is becoming a bigger problem by the day, there are proven ways to protect yourself and your business. Here are the 3 most popular ways to avoid intellectual property theft.
#1 – Register copyrights/patents/trademarks
The first and most crucial step for avoiding IP theft is applying for the correct legal documents, so you have proof that you own your creations and ideas.
If you do not own documentation of your property, then the likelihood of protecting that property decreases significantly.
#2 – Register a domain name
Unfortunately, registering your trademark and domain does NOT mean your brand is free from IP theft.
In fact, some of the world’s biggest and most protected brands are the ones that have to deal with counterfeit on a daily basis. If your brand is being imitated – it’s time to work with a professional.
Here at Herald Business Consulting, we have years of experience helping our clients in Hong Kong and Asia actively protect their intellectual property.
If you have found a competitor infringing upon your IP rights, or you feel suspicious that another business is counterfeiting your goods, here are the 4 steps we take to protect you.
Step 1 – We do a detailed search of the target company
Step 2 – We visit the actual business and conduct a thorough investigation
Step 3 – We conduct comprehensive market surveys online and offline to locate any additional cases of intellectual property
Step 4 – We continue to conduct surveillance and monitor your competitor’s IP infringement
By implementing these four steps, we can help protect your brand from the short-term and long-term damages of IP theft.
Learn more about our IP protection services.
Final thoughts on protection of intellectual property
Do not underestimate the power of your intellectual property and the irreparable damage that can be caused by IP theft.
Take control of your brand’s reputation and profits, and reach out to Herald Business Consulting today to inquire about our IP theft services./