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Understanding and identifying intellectual property infringement

The many companies operating in Miami hold many assets outside of their revenue and property holdings. The intangible assets that give them their unique identities and help establish them in their respective markets are just as valuable. These things comprise a company's intellectual property. According to the Cornell University Law School, any intellectual product that is protected by law from the unauthorized use of others meets the definition of being intellectual property. Common examples include patents, trademarks, copyrighted content and trade secrets. 

The misuse of an organization's intellectual property by a competing company can be extremely damaging to both its brand and its reputation. The Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers defines intellectual property infringement as the use of protected material without the IP owner's permission. This can include the direct reproduction of content, or the use of derivative materials close enough in appearance and/or meaning so as to create brand confusion amongst consumers. It does not necessarily need to be done for monetary gain in order to qualify as infringement; rather, it simply needs to involve unauthorized use. 

Sometimes cases of IP infringement are readily apparent (e.g., a company logo or mission statement used on a billboard). However, spotting cases of infringement online can be much more difficult. Fortunately, there are online resources that can help identify them. Specialty websites can search for competitor pages in which protected content appears to have been copied directly. Tracking the changes to such pages can then show whether content was added before or after being identified as IP. Company representatives can also subscribe to email alert services that notify them whenever their brand names (or names that are remarkably similar) appear on the web, or when their common keywords appear on competitor sites, or similar domain names are sold. 

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