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Can Intellectual Property Be Stolen?

Intellectual property (IP) is considered a creation of the mind, and it’s one of the most valuable assets your business can have. IP can encompass anything from inventions to business and trade secrets. It’s crucial to protect your IP and prevent others from stealing your ideas for their own gain since IP represents great value to your business. Intellectual property attorneys work to protect your IP and ensure you’re not being taken advantage of. Intellectual property law can be difficult to navigate, especially if you own a start-up or small business. However, with the right legal team, you can prevent IP theft and protect your ideas.

What Is Intellectual Property?

Per California law, IP can be classified as any of the following:

  • Inventions
  • Ideas
  • Symbols
  • Trade secrets
  • Software
  • Logos
  • Music
  • Films
  • and more

Whenever anyone creates a new idea, others may try to claim these works as their own. For this reason, IP law is enacted to protect IP from being stolen, and if someone were to try to use another’s IP without permission, they would receive strict consequences.

Types of IP

In California, there are four main types of IP:

  1. Patents. Patents grant a business exclusive rights to monetize its idea or product for a limited time. Patents give the sole authority of an idea or invention to the person who created it, which prevents others from copying them. The three main types of patents for which companies can file are utility, design, and plant patents.
  2. Trade secrets. As the name suggests, this type of IP is not public. Trade secrets have to have some sort of economic importance to a company that would affect the company if shared publicly. Secret recipes and formulas can be considered trade secrets, and these can be protected through IP law.
  3. Trademarks. Trademarks protect specific types of IP, such as logos, phrases, and other designs. Trademarks are unique in that they can protect multiple ideas and designs simultaneously, whereas patents can only protect one idea, product, or design at a time.
  4. Copyrights. Unlike patents and trademarks, copyrights cannot protect ideas and concepts. This type of IP can, however, protect music, films, books, and blueprints. Copyrighting a work gives the owner full authority over their work, which prevents others from using the work for their own profit.

Intellectual Property Theft

Unfortunately, stealing someone’s IP is easy and can severely damage the lives of the victims. In IP theft cases, someone simply has to copy a product or idea without permission from its creators. This can happen to a business of any size, and this crime can potentially cause millions of dollars to resolve. If you don’t have the proper legal protection for your IP, you run the risk of other companies easily using your work for their own gain.

In many cases, you can contact the company you believe has stolen your work asking for the production of the stolen IP to cease. In some cases, a company may not realize they are in breach of stealing and will stop immediately if they are made aware. However, if a company refuses, you may have to pursue legal action. This is why contacting an experienced law firm is important for protecting your rights and holding others accountable.

There are other methods people use to steal IP information from businesses. Using various methods, hackers can steal company data and secrets and sell the data to other companies. Sometimes, employees themselves will leak information to outside sources or sell company information to their employer’s competitors.


Q: What Is Intellectual Property Theft?

A: Stealing or using an idea or work, such as logos, symbols, or trade secrets, without permission from the party holding rights to the IP constitutes intellectual property theft. For example, if one company copies another’s logo, this is considered IP theft. To prevent IP theft, companies use patents, copyrights, and trademarks to keep their works legally protected.

Q: Can You Lose Your Intellectual Property?

A: It is possible to lose your intellectual property outside of it being stolen. For example, patents only last for a certain amount of time, after which the IP in question will become available for others to use. Also, if you do not take the proper steps to fully protect your IP, you run the risk of losing your IP to other companies. To prevent losing your IP, consider speaking with an experienced legal team who can protect your rights.

Q: What Is the Most Commonly Stolen Type of Intellectual Property?

A: Most IP cases occur in the information technology field. Trade secrets are the most stolen type of IP due to how drastic this type of theft can be. These secrets, when in the hands of competitors and other businesses, can cause large-scale issues that can be incredibly taxing to resolve. All business owners, especially ones in the IT field, should have access to a strong legal team in case of any theft attempts.

Q: Is Intellectual Property Legally Protected?

A: Intellectual property is eligible for legal protection. However, you will need to register the IP to protect it and obtain exclusive rights to the work or idea. IP is not legally protected on its own, and if someone were to steal your ideas or works without permission, you will only be legally protected if you own a patent, trade secret, trademark, or copyright.

The Kinder Law Group Can Help

IP theft is not a victimless crime, and many businesses suffer severe consequences when their work is stolen. While not every case of IP theft is intentional, you will need a strong IP lawyer to protect against any potential instance of this crime. At The Kinder Law Group, we work with our clients efficiently and timely so we can best protect their rights. The legal system can be challenging to understand and navigate, but our team is equipped and ready to address any concerns.

Contact us today for more information about intellectual property theft or to schedule a consultation.