With seemingly unlimited money and personnel, you wouldn’t think that giant technology companies would need to rip-off the ideas of others. After all, if they saw a concept or design they’d like, it wouldn’t be hard for them to make an offer to buy it. Maybe even purchase the entire company behind it. Or simply come up with something better.

In reality, these corporations often find themselves embroiled in intellectual property lawsuits. To compete with other companies, they may develop products or features that are similar to what already exists. Unfortunately, this may infringe on the rights of others. It often becomes the problem of the court system to settle the issue.

Sole-searching

Silicon Valley startup Allbirds has found remarkable success with its line of wool shoes. The company builds its merchandise with comfort, simplicity and sustainability in mind. The footwear has become such a hit that Allbirds has a business valuation of $1.4 billion after just five years.

However, such impressive results have attracted competitors. Internet shopping giant Amazon has now rolled out a remarkably similar-looking shoe under its 206 Collective brand. Both shoes sport wool construction, minimalistic form and similar design language. There is one significant difference, though: price. Amazon’s offering is roughly half the cost of Allbirds’.

Amazon might ultimately find itself on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Allbirds is no stranger to protecting its intellectual property and may choose to take the issue to court. A judge will need to decide if any infringement occurred.

Protecting your rights

Cases like these illustrate the need to protect intellectual property rights carefully. You may find competitors trying to offer a similar product or service at a lower cost. Luckily, the US legal system has strong protections for inventors and businesses. You may even be able to get compensation for any damages you suffered.