How is intellectual property infringement prosecuted?

Glenn W. Peterson

If you own intellectual property in California, then you are likely concerned with protecting it. Should someone infringe upon your rights, the case will typically end up in federal court where you have to be represented by someone who is able to work at that level, such as Millstone, Peterson & Watts, LLP. It is not an easy process, so it helps to understand exactly what to expect.

According to the Copyright Alliance, intellectual property infringement is often civil but may also be criminal. Many government agencies are usually involved in IP cases because they are in charge of the laws governing intellectual property. Knowing if something constitutes infringement is based upon the rules, laws and circumstances laid out by the governing agency. For example, patents are governed by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The U.S. Department of Justice may get involved, turning a case into a criminal matter. Foreign matters are often handled by the U.S. State Department or the International Trade Commission.

There is also the matter of the statute of limitations. Most intellectual property has limits to how long it is protected and when such protection is in effect. You can only bring an infringement case if you are within the statute of limitations.

The court will determine guilt or infringement liability based on the law. It will also grant you remedies, which are usually monetary. An order to cease actions that are considered infringement is also granted. In criminal cases, the court may send the infringer to jail. To learn more about intellectual property laws, visit our website.