You’ve poured your heart and soul into your creative work, only to have someone else steal it in a matter of seconds and take credit for it as their own. This is incredibly frustrating and unfortunately, a common occurrence.
The first thing to do is relax and try not to overreact. Doing something drastic might harm your case if you have to end up pursuing legal action. So remain calm and assess your options. This is why it’s always a good idea to be in contact with a good intellectual property attorney, even if you think you don’t need one.
Gather as much evidence as possible. Find all of your original documents and locate evidence of the time and date that it was created.
Document as much of the plagiarism as you possibly can. Take screenshots, print copies, and look for all instances where they have blatantly stolen your property without even trying to disguise it as their own. This will vary by the level of plagiarism that they have committed.
Send a Request to Stop Infringement
Have your attorney draft a cease and desist letter to send to the offender. This letter should include:
- Information describing the work that has been stolen or copied
- The type of infringement (Trademark, copyright, etc)
- The action you are requesting (Removal of content, stopping the use of a trademark, etc)
- A timeframe in which the action should be completed
This is generally enough to stop most offenders, but sadly there are many who are stubborn and won’t respond or take the appropriate actions to correct their offence.
Pursue Legal Action
If the offender continues to plagiarize your intellectual property, it’s time to take legal action. You should speak with an attorney that specializes in intellectual property litigation right away. Even if your property isn’t protected by a patent, trademark, or copyright you still have legal recourse.
Depending on your particular case, you may be able to receive:
- Payment for your losses
- An injunction to force the offender to stop using your intellectual property and remove the product from the market
- All of the profits that the offender made off of your intellectual property
- Reimbursement of your legal fees
- Punitive damages
Most of these cases are handled in the Federal Court and some cases might even be criminal, depending on your situation.