What are the basics of intellectual property litigation?

What is intellectual property litigation and what are the types of IP litigation? Here are some basics. 

What is intellectual property litigation?

Intellectual property (“IP”) is a broad term describing legal rights in property such as inventions, trademarks, information, designs, images, or the expression of ideas or concepts. These rights generally give you the ability to prevent others from using your property without compensation.

For intellectual property to have any value, therefore, a mechanism is required to force others to do (or stop doing) something and to pay monetary damages for any unauthorized use. IP litigation is that mechanism, and it has become one of the primary legal tools available to promote or defend a business.

What are the types of IP litigation?

IP litigation includes litigation relating to:

  • Patent rights (including design patent rights);
  • Trademark rights (including trade dress rights);
  • Trade secret rights;
  • Copyrights;
  • Unfair competition or deceptive advertising;
  • Contract rights (particularly technology-related contracts such as license, development, or high-tech employment and non-competition agreements); and
  • Antitrust violations.

These suits are typically filed in federal district court, although in some cases they may be brought in state court or before the International Trade Commission (to prevent the importation of infringing products).

Contested matters can also be heard before the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in the form of “post-grant review” (to challenge the validity, enforceability, and other aspects of issued patents), “inter partes review” (to challenge the validity of an issued patent), “patent interferences” (to resolve disputes over competing claims of inventorship), and “opposition and cancellation proceedings” (to resolve disputes over the registration of trademarks).

Interested in learning more? Visit our litigation page.