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What damages are available in an intellectual property action?

Detroit businesses go to great lengths to establish their operations and maintain a profit. There is no shortage of moving parts that must addressed for a company to be successful, from dealing with employee issues to cost controls and everything in between.

Of course, one of the most significant factors influencing a company's profit is the competition the business faces from others. While companies do what they can to set themselves apart and beat the competition, legal disputes frequently arise between competitors when it does not appear as though one side is playing by the rules. These disputes can quickly develop into commercial litigation.

For instance, last week this blog discussed the intellectual property dispute between Ford and an out-of-state software company. While it remains to be seen how that lawsuit will be resolved, the case illustrates how companies will not hesitate to enforce their intellectual property rights, and how others may be forced to defend themselves when allegations of wrongdoing arise.

The damages at issue in these disputes can be exceedingly high. The plaintiff often alleges it suffered severe damages through the infringement by the defendant, and that the plaintiff should be compensated fully for all the damages it suffered. The plaintiff also may claim a right to the defendant's profits that were made with the allegedly infringing use. Accordingly, the financial aspects of the lawsuit frequently focus on the operations of both the plaintiff and the defendant in order to determine what one side lost and the other gained.

Ultimately, the particular damages at issue be a matter for the court to determine in the lawsuit. This assumes, of course, that the plaintiff first established infringement in the first place, which can be a significant hurdle in and of itself.

Source: American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, Inc., "Calculating Intellectual Property Infringement Damages," accessed on Aug. 2, 2015

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