When a right holder discovers that his intellectual property (IP) rights have been infringed, or are about to be infringed, the focus of his attention shifts.

He may have previously concentrated on how to obtain and make use of his respective rights, but now his attention will concentrate on making sure that the rights he has obtained through the IP system are respected. This includes stopping unauthorised use, deterring future infringements, and obtaining recovery for damages resulting from the infringing act.

An effective IP enforcement regime depends on a number of different elements. As a result, IP enforcement policies may encompass a range of different issues. IP enforcement may concern details of civil procedure, available remedies, structure and specialisation of courts and appellate bodies, cost of litigation and legal advice.

Additionally, alternatives to court procedures, such as arbitration or mediation, assistance for right holders in enforcing their rights, and technological measures that right holders may take to prevent others from illegal uses of their IP rights, may be relevant. Also relevant may be criminal sanctions, and the role of customs services. In order to enforce their IP rights successfully, the right holder therefore has to take into account a large number of legal issues and practical considerations.

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