There are many ways to obtain rights in your intellectual property. You can copyright your website, trademark your brand name, or patent your invention. You can even protect your proprietary business information as a trade secret. But getting legal rights is one thing. Enforcing them is quite another.
Cyberspace is a fast, vast place where the copying is done in secret. Often, it costs nothing for someone to grab your idea, use your trademark or even infringe on your patent. And as is often the case, where there is one infringer, others abound. So in the vast anonymity of cyberspace, how are you going to find these infringers? And when you do, how will you monitor the web proactively to stop new waves of infringement?
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Often IP holders assume they don’t have to look too hard for infringement. After all, isn’t one infringer enough? This may be true when you pay your lawyer hourly. But in patent cases, expenses typically run into six and seven figures. This means that if you want to enforce your patent, you’ll need to find a law firm willing to front your litigation costs. And that means finding lawyers that will take your case on a contingency fee basis.
Contingency firms take lots of risks and are understandably picky with the cases they’ll accept. So they need to see real infringement and real damages. Don’t expect them to get excited if the only infringer is a mom and pop shop with $50K in yearly sales. The more infringement you find, the better.
That said, this article will show you how to monitor the Internet, for past, present and future infringement. With the free websites below you can capture information from the past, preserve information from the present and receive instant email alerts whenever there’s new infringement.
Index of Ways to Monitor and Capture Evidence of Infringement:
- Find Out If Your Work Has Been Copied
- Monitor For Potential Trademark Infringement
- Get Free Alerts If Key Words Appear In Google, Facebook, or on Your Competitor’s Website
- Monitor For Potential Patent Infringement
- Capture Videos That May Infringe Your Copyright, Trademark Or Patent
- Track Changes Made To Your Competitor’s Website-Past, Present & Future
- Track The Buying, Selling Or Transfer of Domain Names Similar To Your Trademark (Free Email Alerts)
How To Find Out If Your Work Has Been Copied
Every teacher knows there are plenty of free online resources to detect copying. Use the links below to find those websites which may be illegally copying your content and warn them to remove it. Then track the changes to their websites to confirm they’ve complied.
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You may also need to demonstrate that you were the first to create, use or invent your IP. Use Google or Bing’s cache function or the Wayback Machine to track changes made to your competitor’s website. This can show they copied from you and not the reverse. You can also discover exactly when their website was created by doing a WHOIS lookup on their web address. For example: through WHOIS, you can show their website was from 1999 while your copyright was from 1994. WHOIS will also often have the information you need to reach the website owner or administrator.
To background a potential infringer or find their contact information, click here.
Free Links That Detect Online Copying
Copyscape Enter in each page of the website that you want to monitor for copying. The site will return the top ten websites that have the exact same content along with a percentage of what could have been copied. If no matches are found, all the better.
Other Sites To Detect Copying
Anti-Plagiarism Software Pros and Cons
How To Monitor For Potential Trademark Infringement
To find people who may be using the same or confusingly similar trademark, set up free email alerts to see if others are using the same or similar brand name. Obviously you’ll want to warn them of possible infringement. Once you find the offending website, you can monitor their compliance to your take down request by tracking if they’ve made the necessary changes. An email alert will be sent to you whenever they alter their webpage. If you get no email alerts, they’re probably not listening. At that point it may be time to send a harsh follow up letter or get attorneys involved.
Also, you’ll want to monitor domain names and get free email alerts on the buying, selling or transfer of domain names similar to your trademark. Domain names are not trademarks in themselves. However, domain names can infringe trademarks whenever such are used to identify someone’s goods or services. If you find a website under construction with a similar domain name, you’ll definitely want to monitor it, to see if they later begin using it as a trademark.
Once you find a term similar or identical to your trademark, search the USPTO to see if someone has filed a federal trademark application. If you find they’ve filed for a federal trademark, write down the serial number and then track the filing to see if it’s been approved or rejected (Free Email Alerts based on TM serial #). If you get an email alert that the trademark is ready to be approved, you’ll have 30 days or less to oppose the registration.
Email Alerts on USPTO Filings Learn by email when a trademark filing of your competitor has been approved or rejected. This site tracks pending trademarks (your own or others) by TM serial #. Just sign up at this free account and create an alert. (Go to case tracking tab, and add a new case, and then enter in trademark serial number that you got on USPTO.gov).
Get Free Email Alerts if Key Words Appear in Google, on Facebook, or on Your Competitor’s Website.
One way to track infringing activity is through Google Alerts. With Google Alerts, new online activities will be sent to you in an email. Just set up an alert with the client’s name, or a few key words, or the name of their website. (For common names you may have to refine your alert so you don’t get flooded with emails).
For example: Say your competitor owned the website www.webmd.com. If you made a Google Alert with www.webmd.com Actos, you should get an alert whenever WebMD adds a new section or article on Actos. You can also make an email alert with your subject’s first and last name to receive alerts whenever Google finds their name in new blogs, news articles, Facebook or other websites.
Also, be sure to make some test alerts so you can refine what you’re looking for. For example: try using your own name, or the name of your company with a few key terms likely to trigger an alert. Then when you change your website, see what alerts you get, if any.
Twitter Alerts (TweetBeep)
Free Email Alerts on The Buying, Selling or Transfer of Domain Names Similar To Your Trademark
Whether you want to buy the name yourself or monitor if someone else is using your trademark, these sites can help you discover if a domain has been bought or sold, is about to expire, and who it now belongs to. (Also good to keep track of when your own domain names need to be renewed.)
Domain Name Alerts and Notifications (Free) Get an email alert for many different status changes, such as when a domain becomes registered, when it drops and becomes available, when it’s renewed, or even when the WHOIS registrant info changes.
Online Domain Monitor (Free) Email alerts when there’s changes of the domain’s status, changes in its availability or validity, changes in the domain’s registrar or name server.
Domain Monitor Free Sign In Page To Monitor up to 100 Domain Names (No Longer Free) Domain Monitor lets you keep a watchful eye on your domains…or anyone else’s. Expiration dates, status changes—just enter the domain names you want to monitor and they’ll notify you about crucial changes to any domain name’s Whois record on an ongoing basis.
How To Monitor For Potential Patent Infringement
Patent infringement is much harder to monitor than copyright or trademark infringement. The obvious reason is that there’s no set vocabulary to describe a patent. This makes a key word search more challenging. Also, it’s not always clear from a website if they are actually infringing. However, you can sign up for free email alerts to see if terms describing your patent or patented process appear in Google or on your competitor’s website.
If you find a website that seems to be infringing, you can track changes to this website from the past to the present and receive alerts if future changes are made to it. You can also get free updates on new patent filings from your client, competitor or company employees and even download company videos that show infringement.
If you want to background a potential infringer or find their contact information, click here.
Get Free Updates On New Patent Filings from Your Client, Competitor or Company Employees
Fresh Patents(Free Email Alerts) Just register for their free sign up, and choose a few key words such as your inventor’s name, and part of their address if it’s a common name. Or enter the name of someone you wish to monitor such as an engineer you worked with or a former researcher. It may be they filed for a patent and failed to include you. Fresh Patent will then send you weekly RSS feeds to keep you updated.
Tracking When A Website Changes: The Past, The Present And The Future
Knowing what a defendant’s website looks like, past, present and future can be useful to show the company knew of the incident, acted in bad faith or never acted at all. Changes could also show the defendant had knowledge of your patent, or that their idea, invention or policy, spontaneously developed from nowhere, or was the result of a number of iterations.
For The Present Version of a Website
Simply go to the website and print each page into a PDF. Then save it to your hard drive. If you don’t have the software to print to pdfs, pdf 995 is a free program that allows you to convert web pages and other documents to a pdf file.
For Older Versions of a Website
Use The Way Back Machine to see how the site looked at a specific date or how it developed over the years; or search for the website on Google or Bing and then use the Google or Bing cache function to see how the site looked just a few months/weeks ago.
To Get New Versions of A Website You Are Tracking
(receive emails showing the exact changes, cross outs, additions, etc.)
Sign up for ChangeDetection.com. It’s free and you can list multiple links and map out a whole website to see if anything was added or removed to those webpages. If text has been changed, you’ll receive an email with the cross outs and additions. You can also detect changes by making Google Alerts to learn if your target website is adding new terms or new products, etc. For example: If you made a Google Alert with www.webmd.com cancer, you should receive an alert whenever WebMD adds a new section or article on cancer.
Capture Videos That May Infringe Your Copyright, Trademark or Patent
Sometimes a website will have a video which can be used as proof they’ve infringed your intellectual property. To save this video, move your mouse over the video, right click and see if you can select “Save As.” This is the easiest way but it often won’t work. Many companies have no interest in letting you download their videos. However, they do have an interest in advertising. So find where they advertise and see if you can download it from there.
For example: If a video cannot be found or retrieved through a company website, you can often find it on YouTube. Also, Cnet.com has lots of virus free software including a free YouTube Downloader.
Downloading Videos With Google Chrome
Google Chrome can in some cases allow you to copy the video directly from the infringing website.
- Download Google Chrome
- Go to website with video
- Right click elsewhere on page for source or “view page source”<<<a text page will appear with HTML code>>>
- Use Control F to find file path of video by searching for common video file extensions, such as mp4, m4v,MKV (or manually scroll down for URL)
- Right Click on desired link and save to desktop (This will not work on I.E. Explorer, Use Google Chrome).