Intellectual Property Theft Affects U.S. Economy, Causes Billions in Lost Revenue

intellectual property, business litigation, Naperville Business Law AttorneyWhen you own a business that produces any type of consumer goods, it can be relatively easy to study the market and determine that your product is unlike any others. By establishing your brand and emphasizing what sets your product apart from competitors, you can begin to take steps toward financial success. I am commonly asked in my practice, however, about protecting ideas and non-tangible concepts, as they are often just as valuable, if not more so, than a branded consumer item. It may be helpful to start with understanding the impact that intellectual property theft can have on a company, an industry, and the national economy.

What is Intellectual Property?

Companies often choose to protect themselves when hiring new employees and contractors by including an intellectual property clause in their agreements, which you may choose to do with help of a business documents attorney. Intellectual property refers to the product of human intellect that is protected by law from unauthorized use by others. The broad scope of intellectual property can be broken down into four categories, each with its own definition and specifics pertaining to legal use and potential violations:

  • Patents;
  • Trademarks;
  • Trade secrets; and
  • Copyrights.

One of the most widely-discussed disputes over intellectual property in recent years involved the rights to Facebook as dramatized in the movie The Social Newtork. While the film took creative measures regarding some of the facts of the case, the sole question remained: Who owns Facebook? Intellectual property ultimately comes down to who owns the rights, recognition, and financial rewards of an idea.

Intellectual Property Theft

According to the National Crime Prevention Council, the combined worth of all intellectual property in the United States is over five trillion dollars. Violations and theft of intellectual property are becoming enormous public concerns in ways they many may not even realize.

Nearly everyone has seen the warnings at movies screenings or on DVDs that warn of piracy, and such notices are very easy to dismiss as unimportant. However, up to one third of computer software and music CDs are thought be pirated. This type of crime not only affects the artists or actors responsible for creating the product, but causes tens of thousands people to lose their jobs every year, resulting in a major hit to the economy.

Additionally, faked consumer goods may seem to be appealing due to lower costs, but can cause irreparable damage to those who use them. Counterfeit drugs, as an example, may be diluted or repackaged with an inaccurate expiration date resulting in health issues, adverse reactions, or ineffective treatment. Likewise, counterfeit parts for the automotive industry often fail to adhere to regulatory standards, leading to part failure, injuries, and even death to drivers and passengers. Such damages are in addition to the negative effect on the industry’s economic standing.

Piracy and counterfeiting represent just two types of intellectual property violations that account for approximately $250 billion in lost revenue in the U.S. every year. Intellectual property disputes involve violations that affect people both personally and professionally.

If you are involved in an intellectual property dispute in Illinois, contact an experienced Naperville business law attorney today. At the Gierach Law Firm, we understand the challenges of business litigation and are prepared to help you protect your interests in every way possible.