Protecting My Intellectual Property


Palo Alto business owners are faced with heavy competition in the Silicon Valley, all of which are looking for the best practices, methods, and trade secrets. Some of a company’s most valuable assets can be found in your intellectual property. Each year intellectual property theft costs businesses billions of dollars. If you think your intellectual property might be at risk of being stolen or you can confirm it has been stolen, you need to act fast.

Different Types of Intellectual Property

In order to protect yourself from Intellectual Property theft, a business owner must first define what they need to protect. For example, if the business owners want to secure a method of a certain process, a formula specific to their company, or even lock down a logo and name to fight off competition, there will be different applicable forms of legal protection to consider and utilize. There are several forms of protection, some of them being:

Copyrights: Copyrights are rights that attach to an original work of authorship that is fixed in some sort of tangible medium. Examples include software, music, photographs, books, a newspaper article, and poems. Copyright protection attaches the minute something is created. Copyrights can also be federally registered.

Patents: All patents are issued by the government. It provides the patent holder with exclusive rights to the “patented” design, process, or invention for a period of time.  Obtaining a valid patent can take years.

Trademarks: Trademarks can be applicable to either goods or services. A trademark is a word, symbol, or phrase that a person can use to identify the source of a specific good or service. Often trademarks are identified by using the ™ symbol or the ®️. Each of these symbols provides different legal protection.  An example of a strong trademark is the signature yellow “M” for McDonald’s.

Trade Secrets: A trade secret is information that is held closely by a company and is not generally known or easily discoverable. Trade secrets are confidential and highly proprietary.  For instance, Coca-Cola’s Coke recipe is a trade secret.

Identifying Key Facts About Intellectual Property Theft

If your intellectual property is stolen, you will need to identify the source of the theft. Depending on the nature of the theft, this source may be obvious, or it may be hard to identify the perpetrator. Here are some things you may want consider when trying to identify the scope and source of the theft:

  • Was the theft internal or external to the company’s personnel?
  • Can you hire third parties to conduct an investigation or try to find the source?
  • Do you need to immediately change business processes to contain the damage?
  • Do you have any reporting obligations based on the theft?
  • Consider contacting the local authorities or the FBI.
  • Consider hiring legal counsel to file necessary actions (e.g., trademark infringement).

Asserting Your Company’s IP Rights

The different types of intellectual property each come with a bundle of rights. For example, if you have a federally registered trademark and someone infringes your mark, you have a right to a presumption that you own the trademark. Further, it is the infringer’s burden to prove that their use of the mark is not infringement.

Each intellectual property theft is fact specific. Each company has specific intellectual property. How your company should assert its rights against theft will depend on your company’s specific situation. An experienced intellectual property attorney can be beneficial in sorting out your rights and what actions might be necessary to protect your stolen intellectual property. Some actions might include a cease and desist letter, filing an action in court, handling employment-related matters if the theft was internal, or contacting the local authorities.

Has your Company Experienced Intellectual Property Theft? Contact us today.  

Protecting your intellectual property can often make or break a business. If your company has been the victim of intellectual property theft, you likely need legal representation. The Structure Law Group has experience handling intellectual property theft matters. Contact us online or call us at 408-441-7500!