Intellectual property is property that has been licensed by a certain person or organization. Not only do they own the item, but they own the idea behind the item. Therefore, others are prohibited from making their own versions of the item. Selling licensed articles without permission is illegal. Here are some of the consequences for breaking these laws.
Make no mistake. Selling of intellectual property without permission is theft. In some cases, it can even result in jail time. You may think it is a small offense. However, it is something that the federal government takes very seriously. While it is not common to find cases that result in jail time, it does happen. Once charged, you would need to speak with an intellectual property attorney who could let you know how the criminal investigation would proceed.
We have all read that message at the beginning of a movie. Redistribution without authorization can result in serious fines. Fines in excess of $500,000 are used to punish those who illegally sell licensed and copyrighted material. In addition to the fine, you may also have to pay court fees and distribution losses to the party that owns the property.
The selling of intellectual property is not necessarily always for money. Papers and articles that are written in exchange for a degree or grade cannot be owned or written by someone else. Many higher education facilities have strict plagiarism policies. The use of someone else’s intellectual property for your own gain could literally end in expulsion.
Loss of Business
If you have a business that is selling things illegally, it can be shut down. Even smaller items that do not seem like a big deal may be copyrighted or licensed. Professional sports logos, college mascots, and a variety of other symbols are usually licensed. Be aware of anything with those logos. Check tags for licensing. When in doubt, it is always better to ask.
Loss of Trust
Customers losing trust in your business is just as bad as losing the business itself. If a customer expects that a DVD is real, they may be infuriated to find that it is not a licensed copy. If they expect to buy an officially licensed sport product, they will be disappointed in a knock off. Dishonest business practices could cost you in the end.
Selling unauthorized products is serious. These are just some of the consequences for breaking those laws. It is always better to be honest. If you think something may be copyrighted or licensed, just ask. It is far better than facing these extreme consequences.