What Can You Do if Your Intellectual Property Rights Have Been Violated?
If you believe your intellectual property rights have been violated, the first thing to so is confirm that you have the law on your side. First, determine whether you have a defensible claim of ownership with respect to the IP at issue. Are you the senior user, and are your rights and registrations valid?
A “fair use” analysis can also help determine whether someone else’s use of your trademark or copyright is permissible under law. An IP lawyer can apply the various factors implicated by the doctrine of fair use and give you an opinion as to whether the unlicensed user may be able to use the doctrine as a legal defense. Performing this analysis can save you the stress, time, and resources associated with the assertion of a cease-and-desist demand that you’re not actually in a position to make.
If your attorney is satisfied that you have a valid infringement claim, the next step is to reach out and notify the infringing party that they are violating your IP rights. If the other party does not cease their actions or does not respond to your first notice, a follow-up notice should usually be sent; first communications often go ignored. If the opposing party still doesn’t answer, then the matter may need to escalate to litigation. If the opposing party was not intentionally infringing or is willing to modify their behavior, then you may be able to reach an out-of-court settlement that involves the stoppage of the infringing use or a peaceful co-use arrangement.
If you believe that someone is infringing your intellectual property rights, you do not need to send a cease and desist letter before you sue, but it is usually highly advisable since the process of working things out informally is far less expensive, stressful, and complicated than going through the formal dispute resolution process. However, if someone is using your material in a way that is causing or may cause imminent harm, you can immediately file for an injunction to stop the unauthorized use. You can also send a concurrent cease and desist letter at the same time you file your suit. You can state the reason you filed suit in your letter and inform the other party that you are trying to protect your rights.
What Qualities Should I Be Looking For in an Intellectual Property Law Attorney?
Inquire first whether the subject attorney is skilled in dealing with the type of intellectual property issues that you are looking to address. If an attorney specializes in patent law, for instance, she may not be best equipped to assist with a movie deal. You want to select an attorney who is not only experienced in IP law generally but has experience working with the particular type of IP that is central to your matter. You should look for and ask about the types of IP matters they’ve worked on in the past to assist in determining whether they are a good match for you.
You also must ensure that your lawyer is a good personality match for you. An attorney may be the most qualified lawyer on the planet, but if you don’t like her client interaction style, the relationship is not going to work well. Don’t be afraid to ask an attorney for a first meeting or phone call off the clock. Setting up such a meeting can give you a feel for the attorney’s demeanor and work style, and also give you the opportunity to ask about their background and experience. Oftentimes, you can quickly tell if an attorney is a good fit simply by making these initial inquiries. If you do not get a positive first impression, you can move on and find someone who is a better fit for your legal needs. Don’t be shy during this stage of the process; engaging in this sort of “beauty pageant” is common and useful when seeking new legal counsel.
For more information on Violation of Intellectual Property Rights in Virginia, Maryland and DC, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (571) 660-4077 today.
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