In order to understand civil or criminal status of the offenses committed in Intellectual property law you must have brief information about this law.
Artists and Intellectual Property Laws
One of the biggest issues facing artists is their right to profit from their creative work and have that work protected under law. Intellectual property law helps in protecting the rights of the creator of an original thing (such as music, art or the written word). The creator can be an individual or a company and the creation can be a game, a novel, an invention or an identification mark or logo of a company. This law was created to promote the economic growth of a country by encouraging new technologies, artistic creations and inventions. Main purpose behind this law was that when the benefit of the new creations will be protected for their creators then they will work more hard to invent new things for their own and country’s betterment.
The intellectual property law protects the rights of the creators of original creations in three ways, through copyrights, patents and trademarks.
Copyrights empower the creators of new things to publish, perform with, create the derivatives of or reproduce their creations. They are also allowed to enjoy financial benefits from their copyrighted creations as well as ban other to do so unless they seek their permission.
Patents on the other hand restrain the production, use and sale of the patented products by others than their original creator, for a certain period of time. The invention can be a plant, utility or a design. To seek the patent you will have to apply with the Patent and Trademarks office in US.
Trademarks are normally used by the businesses to help their customers to identify their products and services in comparison to their competitors. They protect the name and identification marks of the company. The company automatically become entitled to a trademark, even without any notification to the government, when it starts using a particular identification mark on its products and name.
Civil or criminal offense
The infringement of intellectual properties is normally treated as an offense that may or may not end up in imprisonment, depending upon the circumstances and status of crime. These offenses cover infringement of copyright, counterfeiting labels of copyrighted creations, theft of trade secrets and counterfeiting trademarks. One criminal defense attorney orlando florida mentioned that IP violations can land large scale counterfeiters in jail, but also face civil implications in the form of lawsuits to recoup losses or claw back ill-gotten gains.
Typically all the intellectual property offenses are treated as civil offenses unless the laws of state or federal government or not obeyed.
In case of intellectual property offense the owner of the IP has to sue the infringer in the court of law to get the infringing materials destroyed or remove and to collect financial damages from the infringer. The infringer has to follow the orders of the court and pay the damages to the original creator of the copyrighted creation. He cannot be sent to jail as civil suits never end in a jail punishment.
But if the infringer does not follow the orders of the court then the civil offence becomes a criminal offence due to contempt of court. The infringer can be served with the punishment of confinement for some time. The federal or state government pursues the infringer, if the infringement of intellectual property is termed as a crime, to sentence for imprisonment, if found guilty.
In this way, intellectual property laws can be used for both civil as well as criminal offences.