Plagiarism and intellectual property violation

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Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO
Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO

Someone has copied your product. Or published your texts or photos under a different name. This may be a case of plagiarism, counterfeiting, or an infringement of your patent. What can you do about this? And how can you prevent it?

What is plagiarism?

Plagiarism is directly copying someone else’s music, script, photo, design, or illustration without giving credit to the original creator.

Is plagiarism illegal?

Plagiarism is not allowed because of copyright law. Copyright is an intellectual property. You own it automatically from the moment you create your work. However, your work must be original and unique. Is someone violating your copyright? You can do something about it.

How to prevent plagiarism

You can never completely prevent plagiarism. But you can make sure that others know that you are the creator of the text, lyrics, music, photo, design, or illustration. To ensure this, You can do the following:

  • Add your name and date to the publication. You can also indicate that no one else may copy anything without your permission or acknowledgement of the source.
  • You can register your work in the i-DEPOT of the Benelux Office for Intellectual Property. You will then have legal proof that you created your work on a certain date.
  • Perhaps you feel that someone else can be allowed to use your work under certain conditions. For this, you can issue a Creative Commons licence (in Dutch), for example. You then retain your copyright, but anyone may use or distribute your work without your permission.

What to do when your work has been copied

Taking action against plagiarism usually costs a lot of time and lawsuits are expensive. If you decide to take action anyway, you can do the following:

  • Send the plagiarist(s) a letter or email. Tell them to remove the copy of your work. You must specify exactly what text, music, photo, design, or illustration you are referring to. Set a deadline. Do they refuse your request? You may be able to get legal help.
  • You can report copyright violations to the Centraal Meldpunt Nederland (in Dutch). This is a hotline to report all types of copyright violations.

Counterfeiting or misuse of your product or trademark

Design rights (in Dutch) and trademark law protect your work against counterfeiting, misuse, and piracy. Design rights are intellectual property rights to a new design of a product. For example, a new model of a floor lamp, piece of clothing, or furniture. Trademark law protects the name or logo of your product, service, or company.

What to do against counterfeiting or misuse?

Has your design been counterfeited, or your trademark or brand misused? And do you have registered design or trademark rightr? Send the person a letter or email asking them to stop counterfeiting or misusing your design or brand name. Also include proof of your registration. Does this have no effect? Then you can hire a lawyer or go to court.

Infringement of your patent

You own a patent for a technological invention and someone uses it commercially without your permission. This is a violation of your patent (in Dutch). If this is against your wishes, explain to this person they are infringing on your rights. You can then try to reach a solution together. For example, by offering the infringer a licence. If you cannot reach a solution together, you can go to court to start infringement proceedings (inbreukprocedure, in Dutch).

Questions relating to this article?

Please contact the Netherlands Enterprise Agency, RVO