Most Common Intellectual Property Disputes

Because smaller businesses have fewer resources than larger businesses to defend themselves against intellectual property disputes, they may be more susceptible to infringement. Contact the Law Offices of William D. Black if you need advice about intellectual property disputes. We are here to help you protect your intellectual property and your business from potential infringement.

Categories of Intellectual Property

There are four distinct types of intellectual property. The category that intellectual property (IP) falls under depends on the type of creation it is. Some intellectual property can be in more than one category.


Copyrights protect intellectual property that is printed or digital. Copyrights are available for books, articles, or literary works. In addition to written materials, movies, and photographs are also protected by copyright laws.


Trademark protection applies to symbols, logos, phrases, words, and marks that identify a brand. Take KFC, for example. The name of their business, as well as KFC, are trademarked. So is their chicken bucket logo featuring Colonel Sanders as their logo. To continue this example, they also have trademark rights for their famous catchphrase, “It’s finger-lickin’ good.”


A patent applies to inventions. Patents may include the manufacturing method, the machine, or the item that was manufactured. Patents also apply to newly introduced pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Plant patents are a type of patent available for new plants that were developed without seeds.

In 1962, Colonel Sanders applied for a patent that covered the process of frying chicken under pressure. Currently, the company holds 21 parents in the U.S.

Trade Secrets

Trade secrets are protected in many industries. Often, employees are required to sign nondisclosure agreements to protect these secrets. Trade secrets are secret devices or techniques that are closely guarded in a business’s manufacturing process. Protection of trade secrets allows a business’s product not to be replicated.

KFC’s original fried chicken recipe, for instance, is a trade secret.

Common Intellectual Property Disputes

When people or businesses discover that someone else is using their intellectual property without securing permission, their intellectual property is being infringed upon. Listed below are the most common types of IP infringement:

Copyright Infringement

If a person or entity uses your intellectual property, words, or images, without your consent, they are infringing upon your copyright. If this happens, you have the potential for compensation for the damages you sustained through federal court. If you have not registered your words or photographs, you should promptly apply with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Trademark Infringement

When your word, phrase, logo, symbol, or mark is used to sell a similar product, it could confuse your customers. If it is used without your permission, this is a classic case of trademark infringement. To ensure your trademark is well protected against this type of infringement, you can register it with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

Patent Infringement

Patent infringements can be complex. If a person or business manufactures, utilizes, sells, or offers to create and sell something that includes each characteristic of your patented claim, it is considered patent infringement. This becomes more complicated when several items are covered under the umbrella of one patent.

If you need to file for a patent, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website is a good place to begin. Though, speaking to an intellectual property attorney is a good idea to make sure your invention is thoroughly protected.

Trade Secret Intellectual Property Disputes

If you run a business, you may have trade secrets that separate you from your competitors. There is much potential for IP disputes over trade secrets. If you think your business’s trade secret has been stolen, speak to an intellectual property lawyer to discuss the details.

Contact the Law Offices of William D. Black to Protect Your Intellectual Property

If you believe your intellectual property is being infringed upon, it is crucial that you take measures to put a stop to it immediately. The experienced intellectual property attorneys with the Law Offices of William D. Black can help you navigate the complexities of protecting your intellectual property.