You have spent the past several years trying to launch a business startup.  You and your team have developed a mobile app that gives users truly great and unique experience.  Finally, after several false starts, you get some traction, and now you have a profitable small business.  Then, one day, you’re online checking out the latest mobile apps, and you see one that looks a lot like yours - in fact, it looks exactly like yours. Apparently, someone has stolen your intellectual property.  What do you do?

You’re Not Alone

IP theft is rampant in the United States and around the world. The actual figures aren’t known because many incidents of IP theft are never even reported. And most of that theft comes from business insiders who see a way to make a quick buck from the inventions of their own companies. Still, many of the biggest companies in the world, including many Fortune 500 companies, are not properly safeguarded against IP theft.

In Court, It’s All about Proof

It might be obvious to you that some unscrupulous character, either an insider to your business or an external hacker, has stolen your idea, but you’re going to have to prove it if you want to win in a court case.  But how do you prove that the idea is yours?

Essentially, there are two things you’ll need to prove to win an IP theft court case:

  1. Prove that your work is claimed:  the best way to protect yourself from IP theft, and to win in a theft case, is to demonstrate that your work was claimed by you, through patent application filing.  If your work was copyrighted, you’ll need to show that your work is “fixed”, which simply means that it’s stored somewhere, such as in a document or on a computer or a disk. In addition, you’ll need to show that you are the person who created the work and that you didn’t yourself steal it from someone else.
  2. Provide evidence of infringement: in most cases, it’s not possible to catch an IP thief red handed with a copy of the work you did, because hackers and thieves are generally sophisticated enough to avoid getting caught in this way.  Instead, you’ll need to show that the alleged thief somehow gained access to your work. You’ll also need to demonstrate that what the thief is very similar to what you created. 

If you’re trying to launch a new business, you have a lot on your plate - you need financing, a smart marketing plan, a website, and more. In most cases, you don’t have the time to protect your intellectual property from potential thieves.  The best way to avoid contentious court cases is to work with experienced IP professionals from the start.  They’ll understand the law as it relates to intellectual property and give you sound strategies to prevent theft from taking place, to protect your rights, and to keep you focused on what really matters - your business.

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