Enforcing intellectual property rights is a complicated, demanding task. Companies must create and review contracts with parties who have access to the material; they must monitor the marketplace to ensure competitors are not misusing IP; they must send cease and desist letters to any offenders and, in some cases, pursue legal action.
These are difficult tasks no matter what industry you are in or where your business operates. However, they become especially challenging when infringement occurs in another country.
Discovering international infringement
Discovering a party in another country stole your IP is not easy. In some cases, it is the result of a coincidence.
For instance, a tool inventor discovered he was the victim of patent infringement when a sales representative for his company happened to see the inventor’s socket for sale at an unauthorized retailer. Eventually, he was able to determine that the Chinese manufacturer of his tools was allegedly selling the product without the inventor’s permission.
Uncovering infringement takes diligence and regular monitoring of parties with access to your IP.
If you do suspect an international party of infringement, determining how to resolve the claim can be a challenge. First, you must be sure that your rights to the material extend to the country where the alleged infringement occurred.
You must also navigate international legal systems to seek the desired resolution and enforce your IP rights.
Depending on the details of the infringement, you will typically decide whether you want to pursue litigation, negotiate a settlement, work out a licensing agreement or otherwise resolve the issue.
One of the most important ways to protect IP in the U.S. and internationally is to prevent infringement in the first place. You can do this by properly registering your product here and abroad, limiting access to sensitive information and meticulously reviewing your contractual agreements and relationships.
International IP violations are not uncommon. Unfortunately, it is perhaps easier than ever for people in different countries to engage in actions like patent infringement. Because of this, it is as crucial as ever for businesses to have legal support when protecting or enforcing IP ownership rights.