The theft of intellectual property is a focus of the Department of Justice’s efforts to protect American consumers from hazards posed by counterfeit products and businesses from competitors’ criminal infringement on their trade secrets.
If you have been accused of stealing or misusing someone else’s intellectual property, or if federal law enforcement authorities have contacted you, get in touch with a Greenville intellectual property theft lawyer as quickly as possible. Federal charges can lead to harsh sentences, but an experienced white-collar defense attorney could manage the charges to reach the best outcome possible under the circumstances.
Intellectual property includes trademarks, patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and other valuable but intangible assets. The owner of the asset in question has the exclusive right to use it and could sue someone in civil court for making unauthorized use of their intellectual property. Additionally, stealing someone’s intellectual property is also a federal crime that carries severe consequences upon conviction.
Many prosecutions arise from electronic intrusions into a company’s network and unauthorized access to its secrets. However, a low-tech theft like stealing paper documents from a company executive could also expose the accused to federal charges. Internet piracy of music, film, photography, and art is another common form of intellectual property theft.
The charges a person might face for theft of intellectual property depend on the type of information they allegedly stole. For example, misappropriating a trademark is usually prosecuted as trademark infringement under 18 United States Code § 2320, while stealing trade secrets is an offense under 18 United States Code § 1832. Each of these offenses carries a sentence of up to ten years in federal prison.
Under 18 United States Code § 1849, an accused could also be charged with conspiracy or attempted intellectual property theft. The penalties for these charges are just as harsh as if the accused had completed the crime.
A credible Greenville attorney could help individuals who are accused of intellectual property theft fully understand the scope of their charges and potential consequences.
The defenses a Greenville attorney might raise to defeat a charge relating to intellectual property theft vary depending on the specifics of the accusations and charges. However, complex issues frequently arise in these cases, and an advocate could argue them if applicable.
Theft of intellectual property requires knowledge that the information in question belonged to another party and that its use was unauthorized. Lack of knowledge that the property belonged to someone else or lack of intent to engage in unauthorized use could be a defense to the charges. If the intellectual property did not have the protection of a patent, copyright, or trademark, a defense attorney could assert that it was not legally protected.
Sometimes intellectual property theft charges arise from anonymous tips or testimony from someone else accused of a crime. A legal professional could challenge the credibility of witnesses or whistleblowers and perhaps convince a federal prosecutor not to proceed with the charges.
Federal law enforcement authorities take the theft of intellectual property seriously. They see it as a threat to American commerce and the safety of U.S. consumers.