What is Intellectual Property Litigation?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 26 March 2020
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Intellectual property litigation refers to any type of civil case brought by a plaintiff against a defendant, usually due to perceived infringement of intellectual property ownership. This will usually be related to a type of intellectual property registration and ownership, such as copyrights, trademarks, or patents. While criminal actions can potentially be brought against someone who violates certain terms of intellectual property law, depending on different countries and the laws a person violates, these actions are typically civil in nature. Intellectual property litigation usually consists of lawsuits brought against a person or company due to violation or infringement of a particular property.

One of the most common types of intellectual property litigation is for copyright infringement. A copyright is a form of ownership granted to a person or company over original works of art or artistic creations that the person makes or a company pays someone to make. Violations of a copyright usually consist of unlicensed recreations or copies of a work being created, whether for personal use or sale for monetary gain. When this type of violation or infringement occurs, then the owner of a copyright may bring intellectual property litigation against the person who committed the violation.


Trademark and service mark violations are also fairly common grounds for intellectual property litigation to be brought against someone. A trademark refers to ownership over a particular name, image, or other identifier that is used to distinguish one business from another. Trademarks are used for businesses that produce goods, while a service mark is used for a company that provides a service, though both marks otherwise function in the same way. If a company or individual other than the legal owner of a trademark uses that trademark without permission, usually in a way that seeks to make itself appear to be the rightful owner of the trademark, then the actual owner can file an intellectual property litigation claim against that person or company.

The other most common source of intellectual property litigation is for violation of a patent. A patent is a form of ownership granted to an inventor who creates something that is new, useful, and unique. If someone else were to then use an identical process or invention in a business, without paying licensing fees to the patent owner, then he or she would be in violation of that patent. These types of intellectual property litigation can be somewhat difficult to prove without official paperwork demonstrating ownership of such property, so efforts should be made by artists, businesses, and inventors to properly file for ownership over their work.


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