The innovations that companies develop are some of their most valuable assets, and theft of that asset – typically known as “intellectual property” or “IP” can be devastating. That theft can limit your business’s profitability, damage its reputation among consumers and have a long-term impact on your business’s success. If a person or company has stolen your business’s IP, the United States Department of Justice offers recommendations for the next steps.
LAUNCH AN INTERNAL INVESTIGATION, AND KEEP CAREFUL RECORDS.
Once you have discovered a breach, an internal investigation should be your first step. Whether you believe that your intellectual property was stolen through hacking, malware or misconduct by an employee, your internal investigation allows you to act quickly.
During this internal investigation, you must keep records of your inquiry. Collect your existing documents related to the stolen IP. Carefully document interviews with employees and contractors, including those that may not seem relevant. Even if this investigation does not help you discover the person or company that infringed on your IP, it can provide a foundation for future investigation by authorities.
For many reasons, the internal investigation is much better conducted by a law firm, which also utilizes the services of experienced investigators who carefully document all of their steps and findings.
REPORT THE THEFT TO THE AUTHORITIES.
Depending on the severity and extent of the theft, it may be appropriate to report it to the authorities. The National Crime Prevention Council has different recommendations for reporting these crimes, depending on the type of IP. These agencies include:
- The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)
- The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA)
- The National Intellectual Property Rights Coordination Center
- The United States Postal Inspection Service
These authorities can continue your investigation and help you pursue justice.
FILE A SUIT AGAINST THE PERSON OR COMPANY THAT HAS VIOLATED YOUR IP.
In addition to the authorities’ investigation, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the thief. Speak to an attorney with experience in intellectual property rights to explore the available options and consider legal steps that could further strengthen your business’s IP.