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Intellectual Property Theft Charges, Penalties & Defense

Have you or has someone you know been charged with intellectual property theft?

Intellectual property theft

The concept of intellectual property theft might not be the first crime that comes to your mind when you think of theft. However, with the rise of digital technology, intellectual property theft has become a growing issue. The cases for intellectual property theft are complex.

What is Intellectual Property Theft?

This type of crime involves robbing people or companies of their ideas, inventions, and creative expressions that are protected under intellectual’s property laws such as copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secrete laws. Examples can include: products and parts, movies, music, software, client lists, poems, and logos.

The theft is not always clear cut. A case can be confusing.

For example, in 1994, Adidas and Payless ShoeSource Inc. got into a disagreement over the stripes on the athletic shoes that Payless was selling. Adidas used its three-stripe mark as a logo since 1952, but Payless was selling a similar looking shoe with two and four parallel stripes.

While Payless was not using the exact Adidas brand, Adidas brought Payless to court. The trial lasted seven years. In the end, Adidas was awarded $305 million.

Intellectual Property Penalties

An intellectual property theft crime falls under the category of a white collar crime. Penalties for white collar crimes such as intellectual property theft can have a wide-range of punishment depending on the details of the crime. The penalty can be lighter if the defendant takes responsibility for the crime and assists in the investigation.

According to the FBI.gov:

“Preventing intellectual property theft is a priority of the FBI’s criminal investigative program. It specifically focuses on the theft of trade secrets and infringements on products that can impact consumers’ health and safety, such as counterfeit aircraft, car, and electronic parts. Key to the program’s success is linking the considerable resources and efforts of the private sector with law enforcement partners on local, state, federal, and international levels.”

Specific legal consequences for intellectual property theft can be harsh. In many cases, intellectual property theft is charged as a federal crime. A person charged with this crime can expect to face: criminal fines, prison time, seizure of the stolen property, loss of business license, and civil charges filed by the victim of the crime.


If you are facing charges related to intellectual property theft, know that a strong defense can be made for you. There are a number of key factors that can play a role in your defense. For example, understanding your intent or lack of intent. As a defendant, did you knowingly attempt to steal the property and use personally? Another key question that will be investigated is the actual ownership of the material. Were they protected under intellectual property laws?

Seek A Professional Defense Attorney

If you are being investigated or have been charged with a crime related to intellectual property theft, it is important to speak with an experienced professional defense attorney. When it comes to charges related to intellectual property laws, they can be complex, and the punishments can be harsh. Depending on the details of your case, a strong defense can be made. Call us today.

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This article was published on: October 14, 2016 and was last modified October 14, 2016