Someone is using my IP without my permission – what can I do?

IP infringement is the violation or unauthorised use of your IP. Learn how you can prevent or manage infringement.

Your intellectual property (IP) is a valuable asset and underpins your business’s competitive advantage. Infringement of your IP can impact the reputation and profitability of your product, business, and brand.  If you notice someone else in the marketplace using, or attempting to use your IP without your permission, it is important to have a plan to manage the situation. 

What’s an example of IP infringement? 

Other people may infringe on your IP to mislead customers, and use your IP without your permission. If your IP is protected with a registered IP right you may have legal recourse to stop them. How infringement is defined depends on the IP right, but common examples include: 

  • a competitor using a logo very similar to your registered trade mark to promote or sell their own products 
  • a competitor copying your patented invention and selling it without your permission, essentially monetising your idea for their own profit. 

How can I defend my IP?  

Create an infringement strategy 

This is a plan of action you have in place to prevent infringement of your IP. It should be a plan that you have the resources to execute, and are in a position to manage. To create the best strategy for your individual circumstances, we recommend you consider legal advice.  

Label your IP 

Trade marks and plant breeder’s rights (PBR) have symbols you can display to show they are protected.  

  • The ™️ symbol can be used on an unregistered trade mark as a way of notifying other traders that there may be legal rights associated with the trade mark. 
  • When you have a registered trade mark, you can display the ® symbol, clearly communicating the fact that it is registered. Please note it is an offence to use this symbol before it is registered. 
  • To show that your plant variety is protected, display the official PBR logo and the accompanying wording whenever the name appears.
Example of the official PBR logo and symbol

Monitor the market 

Keep watch for new IP entering the market by regularly checking registrations and applications for new registered rights:  

Register your IP with e-commerce platforms 

Be proactive by listing your IP rights with e-commerce platforms, which can be used in automated checks to detect counterfeit goods before they are listed for sale. 

What if someone infringes on my IP?

There is a belief that you have to go to court to defend your IP but if you believe someone is infringing on your IP, there are steps to consider before taking legal action:  

  • Prove the infringer doesn’t have permission to use your IP. 
  • Check if the IP has been registered by them. 
  • Send a letter of demand. 
  • Consider alternative dispute resolution. 

Often, sending a letter of demand will stop the infringer and may avoid the need for further legal proceedings. You can seek legal advice if you need assistance in drafting and sending a letter of demand.  

If you come across someone applying for a similar trade mark, patent, design, or plant variety as yours, you can:  

  • dispute the application for new IP 
  • oppose the registration or grant of new IP 
  • oppose an extension of time request 
  • request examination or re-examination of an application to request removal of a trade mark for non-use.

Effective enforcement of your IP right can help you protect its value, deter potential infringers, and maintain the ability to grow your business. While IP Australia grants these rights, it is the responsibility of IP rights owners to monitor the marketplace and take a proactive approach to IP enforcement. 

For more information on infringement and enforcement, visit our how to prevent infringement of my IP webpage.