Types of Intellectual Property Disputes and How to Address Them

In the business world, assets are generally classified as either tangible or intangible. Tangible assets simply mean that they are perceptible by touch, such as equipment, property, and even employees.

On the other hand, some business assets are intangible. Most of the time, these assets come in the form of intellectual property. Intellectual property generally comes in four different types: copyrights, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. It can be summarized as the right to own, use, and sell products derived from a person’s intellect or creativity.

Intellectual property disputes can arise when there is unauthorized use of copyrighted material, patents, and trademarks. This article will delve deeper into the common disputes surrounding copyright infringement and what you can do to address these problems.

Common Intellectual Property Disputes

There are many ways intellectual property disputes can arise.

The first and most common way a dispute can occur is with infringement. Infringement occurs when someone uses intellectual property without the owner’s permission. It comes in many forms such as trademark, patent, and copyright infringement. For example, a logo may be used without authorization or a patented invention may be manufactured without consent.

The second way disputes can arise is through corporate espionage. Also known as corporate spying, this action is generally used to steal information for commercial purposes. It can come in various forms, such as bribes for secret information or secretly working for another company.

The third way a dispute can happen is when a party believes that their product or services are already protected under intellectual property law, but are actually not. This causes them to take action that leads to nothing, essentially causing an empty ruckus.

Addressing Disputes

Regardless of the type, any intellectual property dispute can be costly to a company. Regardless of whether or not an infringement has actually occurred, a business may be required to defend against a law suit. If a court determines that infringement has occurred, damages payable to the owner of the intellectual property can be extremely expensive.

One of the most common consequences is the loss of money. As such, the way to address any dispute is to compensate for the losses it incurs. For example, if you have lost money because someone has sold products that infringe an issued patent, you should be compensated an equivalent amount.

For conflicts that revolve around the unauthorized use of a trademark, damages for the infringing action and an injunction preventing future use are common remedies. Goods featuring the infringed trademark may need to be rebranded, destroyed or given to the legitimate owner of the trademark.

All of these are just the general things that can happen during intellectual property disputes. The course of an action will vary on a case-by-case basis. The ultimate goal of the courts in an infringement action is for the intellectual property owner to be compensated fairly for the unauthorized use of their intellectual property.


Intellectual property disputes can be frustrating to deal with, not to mention costly. Whenever it happens, the focus has to shift from regular operations to ensuring that the company recovers from the issue.

If you have intellectual property that has been infringed or if you have been accused of infringing someone else’s intellectual property, you may want to consider hiring an intellectual property lawyer. An experienced lawyer can help create a plan, provide risk assessments and provide general guidance to help you address your issues. Intellectual property infringement actions can be incredibly technical. The assistance of an experienced lawyer can be the difference between success and failure.

Prowse Chowne is a law firm in Alberta, offering services such as dispute resolution, insurance law, intellectual property litigation, and more. If you are interested in litigation services to address an intellectual property dispute, work with us today!