There are many ways in which intellectual property (IP) rights can arise. There are even more many ways in which they can be infringed. Understanding what constitutes infringement is important not only because it may help you to better protect your IP, but also because you will be better placed to recognise when your actions risk undermining the IP rights of others. Here are some of the more obvious ways in which IP rights can be infringed.
1. If you copy and save an image you come across on the internet and later on use the image on your own website, without the copyright owner’s consent, this amounts to copyright infringement.
2. Using another’s lyrics or musical composition, either in whole or in part, risks infringing the owner’s copyright unless you obtain their consent.
3. If you use the registered mark of a product as your own, without the owner’s permission, this may result in a claim being made against you. Whether or not you knew that the trademark was registered is irrelevant.
4. Newly invented products are often patented in order to prevent others from using them. Selling or making a patented product without the consent of the patent owner is therefore an infringement of their IP rights.
5. Certain types of information, such as client databases and market-sensitive data, can be crucial to the running of a business – so much so that they’re often deemed confidential. If confidential business information is disclosed without authorisation, this can undermine the owner’s IP rights.
6. Despite how easy it might seem, copying web content without the copyright owner’s permission still constitutes infringement.
7. Renting or selling a copyrighted work to the public without the owner’s consent.
8. Posting copyrighted content on social media sites, such as Facebook, without the owner’s permission.
9. Obtaining a licence to use a copyrighted work allows you to use the work in certain ways without risking infringing the owner’s IP rights. However, acting outside the scope of that licence still amounts to copyright infringement.