What is infringement and what can it mean to a business?
In general terms, intellectual property (IP) infringement is an act that interferes with one of the exclusive rights of an owner of IP rights. In more specific terms,
- patent infringement happens when someone is making, using or selling an invention protected by a patent without the patent owner's permission;
- trade-mark infringement is the violation of trade-mark rights through unauthorized use of a trade-mark;
- copyright infringement is the violation of copyright through unauthorized copying or use of a work or other subject matter under copyright;
- industrial design infringement is the violation of industrial design rights through unauthorized manufacture or sale of a design; and
- integrated circuit topography infringement occurs when someone reproduces or imitates the configuration without the owner's permission.
Infringement acts may hurt the market share of the IP owners. Infringement litigations are generally very expensive and disruptive, especially to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Therefore, SMEs should carefully consider and weigh different legal and business options when they face an IP infringement situation either as a defendant or a plaintiff.