Some internet activities result in civil and criminal charges

Glenn W. Peterson

Intellectual property is big business here in California and elsewhere and most companies do what they can to protect it. Before the internet, this was easier in some ways and more difficult in others. When companies discover their IP is in danger, the first inclination may be to file a civil claim, but the actions of those stealing or using trade secrets, patents, copyrights or trademarks without the permission of the owner could result in criminal charges as well.

In response to this possibility, the U.S. Department of Justice created a Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section to help combat this type of illegal activity. This section of the DOJ conducts investigations, litigates its own cases and assists other prosecutors’ offices, and works to resolve investigative and legal issues associated with new technology. The CCIPS works with domestic and foreign government agencies, the private sector, academic institutions and other parties as it goes about its duties.

The CCIPS’s other responsibilities include implementing strategies nationwide that help to combat intellectual property and technology crimes. The section focuses on more than just the United States. It also has an international focus as well, which makes sense since the internet exists in nearly every corner of the world.

What does all this have to do with a a business’s intellectual property being threatened, stolen or used without permission via the internet? A California business could take advantage of the fact that the government believes criminal activity occurred. If an investigation done by the CCIPS results in criminal charges, any evidence presented in the criminal case, along with any conviction secured, could be offered as evidence in a civil claim to prove wrongdoing on the part of the individual or company involved.