Michael E Melton states that It will come as no big surprise that the first thing that you need to do if you realize that someone has stolen your intellectual property is to ask them to stop immediately. They may not even have realized. If however they refuse to stop then you will need to take it further and go to court.

Even if you are not sure at this stage whether you will sue or not, you should at least get some good legal advice. The lawyer may then send letters which may cease the user from using your intellectual property and you may be happy for it to end there. The letter should confirm the information and item that has been infringed and used and the results that you want at this point in time.

If you then wish to continue and take legal action you must ensure your work is fully registered, hopefully you have already done this, and this will make the proceedings much easier. In the same way it is not possible to get a patent infringement suit if you haven’t got a patent infringement until the USPTO has officially granted your patent.

You are only able to file a civil case on some types of infringement for others it would be a criminal complaint and sometimes even both. Copyright, trademark and patent infringement will all be dealt with in the civil court. The court will look into the full facts of your case, the damage and loss you have suffered as a result of the infringement. They will then use this information to remove a product from the market place and stop the person from using it again. They will try to get you some loss of earnings as a consequence of your product or trademark being copied from the infringer’s profits.

They will also seek their fees and punitive damages from the perpetrator or perpetrators.

However most of these types of cases are dealt with in federal court if you are registered. If you are not registered, you have to work in the state court.

Some cases of intellectual property theft may also involve criminal activity that would be covered by the Economic Espionage Act 1996. Counterfeiting is also a criminal activity which can be reported to the FBI. This situation is made worse for the perpetrator if they choose to sell the products online. Some US border control agencies will deal with this issue if it involves other countries.

Your lawyer will help you work out what exactly the crime is, and who it can be and should be reported to, as well as what the best action to take will be.

The one lesson that can be learnt from these issues is that it is also better to fully register your intellectual property before it gets to this stage. This makes it much easier to defend in a court of law rather than then trying to get everything reported in retrospect.