Intellectual property fraud is a type of fraud that involves property that is protected under copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret laws. There is a wide range of activities that can constitute intellectual property fraud. In some cases, the fraud may have to do with one party illegally obtaining access to protected material. This is basically a theft of the intellectual property, which is usually achieved through misrepresentation or deceit.
In other cases, the fraud may have to do with more technical aspects, such as the registration of the intellectual property. Intellectual property fraud schemes are sometimes called “intellectual property scams.”
One of the most common types of intellectual property fraud is called “inventor promotion fraud” or “invention promotion scams.” This is where an inventor is tricked into paying money for the promotion or development of their invention without the promotion/development ever occurring. This often happens through invention promotion firms (or persons who pose as such), who use fraud to obtain fees for such “services”.
In reality, the scam artist might take the invention, patent, or trade secret and use it for their own gain. The scammer also might simply take off with the money and never provide any services toward the development or promotion of the invention.
Other types of intellectual property fraud or scams may involve more direct violations, such as outright copyright infringement or other infringement actions.
Incidents of intellectual property fraud should be reported to the relevant authorities, as this can help prevent other instances of fraud from occurring. Legal remedies for IP fraud can include a monetary damages award for losses caused by the fraud. The person or party perpetuating the fraud may also face criminal fraud charges in some cases. Other remedies may be available, such as the returning of misappropriated intellectual property materials.
Intellectual property fraud can often be prevented by being aware of tell-tale signs of fraud, which include:
- Over-exaggerated accounts of the profitability of a potential invention
- Requests for immediate, up-front payment for promotion or development services
- Lack of proper contact information, credentials, or identification
- Failure to provide written correspondences, receipts, or contracts
- Gimmicks such as “money-back guarantees, as reputable firms generally do not need to provide money-back guarantees
If you are unsure of whether a company, agent, or individual is reputable or not, do not engage in negotiations with them. You may need to hire an intellectual property lawyer for advice on how to proceed with the development of your intellectual property. Your attorney can also represent you in court if you need to file a lawsuit for damages based on an intellectual property fraud claim.