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When is misappropriation a crime?

If you own intellectual property rights in California, you have to stay on top of them to ensure nobody is using your intellectual property illegally. If you find someone violating your rights, then you can take them to court. Most of the time, this is a civil matter. That simply means you can sue for damages and the court punishes the person by making him or her pay you. However, according to, there are some cases where intellectual property rights violations are criminal in nature.

Misappropriation or the violation of your intellectual property rights may fall into the category of a crime for only certain cases involving certain types of intellectual property. For example, patent infringement is not a criminal violation. Generally, when there are issues with counterfeiting, it becomes criminal, such as a counterfeit trademark. Copyright infringement can also be criminal. Finally, stealing trade secrets is punishable as a criminal charge.

Perhaps the best-known type of criminal charge for intellectual property rights violation is counterfeit goods. People create knock-offs that look like a designer item and even go so far as to put the designer's name and logo on the product. They sell it as if it is a legitimate designer item. This is a crime. Someone convicted of doing this could face time behind bars.

An example of copyright infringement would be pirated music for videos. Again, if you were to pirate a movie and then sell it, you could face criminal charges and end up locked up. This information is for education and is not legal advice.

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