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How to tell if you have an intellectual property case or not

Whether you're an inventor or a writer, an entrepreneur or an actor, protecting your creativity and innovation are probably incredibly important to you. This is especially true if you rely on your talent for your livelihood.

But because of complexities within the law, it can be difficult for the everyday person to know if their intellectual property is being protected from possible infringement. Even large corporations run into this problem from time to time.

So how do you know if you have an intellectual property case or not? Let's take a look at two cases that happened recently and find out.

The first case of infringement happened back in May when Apple faced off against Samsung in the courtroom to argue over rights to certain smartphone patents. This case highlighted the importance of filing for patent protection and how this documentation can bolster your claim of infringement.

Being able to establish an accurate timeline in cases like this is key because it proved who has ownership of a particular piece of intellectual property. In the case above, Apple was able to prove that some of Samsung's designs infringed on existing patents, ending in an award of $119.96 million in damages to Apple.

While this case showed intellectual property issues dealing with patents, this is not the only way in which someone can infringe on someone else's creativity.

In the case of Wilson v. Walt Disney Company, Disney is facing claims that it infringed on a copyright held by another filmmaker. The filmmaker claims that the trailer for "Frozen" is substantially similar to her short film entitled "The Snowman" and therefore infringed on her copyright.

Similar to the Apple Inc. v. Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. case, by getting a copyright for her short film, the filmmaker in this case was able to show that she came up with the plotline prior to Disney's movie trailer release. It was a point that the court agreed with, allowing the case to move forward in further litigation.

Whether patent, trademark or copyright, you should first protect your property through proper registration. Then when infringement has occured, you will be ready to protect your intellectual property rights. As we said above, knowing when infringement has occurred can be difficult to determine without the help of a skilled lawyer. 

Sources: The World Intellectual Property Organization, "What is Intellectual Property?" Accessed Sept. 23, 2014

PC World, "Apple denied retrial in Samsung patent case," Loek Essers, Sept. 9, 2014

Courthouse News Service, "Disney Must Defend 'Frozen' Trailer Claim," Megan Gallegos, Aug. 5, 2014

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