IP theft

We can help you build a compelling body of evidence showing infringement of all types of intellectual property, including copyright, trademark, patent, industrial design rights and trade secrets.

Expert computer forensic analysis of computers, mobile phones and servers can reveal emails, text messages, spreadsheets and documents that provide strong evidential support for your case.

Case study

Forensic Control was recruited by the representatives of a major recording artist. We were involved from early in the case, advising on the wording of a search order, accompanying the applicant’s solicitors on a search of the suspect’s premises where we secured various devices. While on site we provided advice to the solicitors on the identification of relevant material and assisted in the formulation of responses to the suspect’s legal team.

Our analysis of the items secured that day revealed a scheme to produce and distribute sensitive material on a global scale. The data extracted revealed the suspect’s production sources, distribution lists and order books.

To find out how Forensic Control can assist you in areas like this, call 020 7193 3324.

Types of Intellectual Property Theft

Intellectual Property (IP) is about far more than just patents. There are four main types of IP rights which you can use to protect your inventions or creations. You may also choose to protect your IP in other ways, for example, by using a confidentiality agreement. the four main types of IP are:


A patent protects new inventions and covers how things work, what they do, how they do it, what they are made of and how they are made. It gives the owner the right to prevent others from making, using, importing or selling the invention without permission. A patent gives you the right to stop others from copying, manufacturing, selling, and importing your invention without your permission. The existence of your patent may be enough on its own to stop others from trying to exploit your invention. If it does not, it gives you the right to take legal action to stop them exploiting your invention and to claim damages. The patent also allows you to:

  • sell the invention and all the intellectual property (IP) rights
  • license the invention to someone else but retain all the IP rights
  • discuss the invention with others in order to set up a business based around the invention.

Trade Marks

A trade mark is a sign which can distinguish your goods and services from those of your competitors (you may refer to your trade mark as your “brand”). It can be for example words, logos or a combination of both. In the UK, the only way to register your trade mark is to The Intellectual Property Office. You can use your trade mark as a marketing tool so that customers can recognise your products or services. Registering your trade mark gives you the exclusive right to use your mark for the goods and/or services that it covers in the United Kingdom (UK). If you have a registered trade mark you can put the ® symbol next to it to warn others against using it. However, using this symbol for a trade mark that is not registered is an offence. A registered trade mark:

  • may put people off using your trade mark without your permission
  • makes it much easier for you to take legal action against anyone who uses your trade mark without your permission
  • allows Trading Standards Officers or Police to bring criminal charges against counterfeiters if they use your trade mark
  • is your property, which means you can sell it, franchise it or let other people have a licence that allows them to use it.


A Registered Design is a legal right which protects the overall visual appearance of a product or a part of a product in the country or countries you register it. For the purposes of registration, a design is legally defined as being “the appearance of the whole or part of a product resulting from the features of, in particular, the lines, contours, colours, shape, texture or materials of the product or ornamentation.” This means that protection is given to the way a product looks. The appearance of your product may result from a combination of elements such as shapes, colours and materials Registering your design gives you exclusive rights for the look and appearance of your product. The existence of your design registration may be enough on its own to stop anyone copying your design irrespective of whether they copied or came up with the design independently.


Copyright can protect:

  • literary works, including novels, instruction manuals, computer programs, song lyrics, newspaper articles and some types of database
  • dramatic works, including dance or mime
  • musical works
  • artistic works, including paintings, engravings, photographs, sculptures, collages, architecture, technical drawings, diagrams, maps and logos
  • layouts or typographical arrangements used to publish a work, for a book for instance
  • recordings of a work, including sound and film
  • broadcasts of a work

You should only copy or use a work protected by copyright with the copyright owner’s permission. Copyright applies to any medium. This means that you must not reproduce copyright protected work in another medium without permission. This includes, publishing photographs on the internet, making a sound recording of a book, a painting of a photograph and so on. Copyright does not protect ideas for a work. It is only when the work itself is fixed, for example in writing, that copyright automatically protects it. This means that you do not have to apply for copyright. Copyright allows you to protect your original material and stops others from using your work without your permission. The existence of copyright may be enough on its own to stop others from trying to exploit your material. If it does not, it gives you the right to take legal action to stop them exploiting your copyright, and to claim damages. By understanding and using your copyright and related rights protection, you can:

  • sell the copyright but retain the moral rights.
  • license your copyright for use by others but retain the ownership.
  • object if your work is distorted or mutilated.

IP Enforcement

You are responsible for enforcing your intellectual property (IP) rights. You may though be able to resolve your dispute without taking any legal action. As an IP right owner you should also try to show your IP is protected. You should seek advice from a legal professional (such as a Patent or Trade Mark attorney) before entering into any disputes. Depending on the type of dispute, you may file patent proceedings in the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) or with the Courts. You may also ask the IPO to take action in relation to some trade mark issues and design issues. If you have not registered your IP rights, you may be able to take action under common law of passing off. You can take legal action through the civil courts by for instance applying for an injunction and/or claiming damages if your IP right is infringed, that is it is used without your permission. You can safeguard against legal costs by taking out an insurance policy.

What is IP infringement?

If you use someone else’s intellectual property (IP) without their permission you may be infringing their IP rights and they may be able take legal action against you. There are also a number of exceptions in copyright law which allow limited use of copyright works without the permission of the copyright owner.

Patent infringement

If you make, use, sell or import something protected by a patent, without permission, you may be infringing the owner’s rights.

Design infringement

If you use, sell or import something that is identical or similar to a design registration, without permission, you may be infringing the owner’s rights.

Copyright infringement

If you use works, which are protected by copyright without permission, you may be infringing the owner’s rights.

Trade mark infringement

If you use a mark, which is identical or similar to a registered trade mark, without permission, you may be infringing the owner’s rights.

Some of the information from this page is from the Intellectual Property Office website and is used under the terms of the Open Government License.


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