The systematic infringement of intellectual property rights has become of increasing concern to businesses, artists and authors. The proliferation of computers and computer networks has made the illegal reproduction and distribution of protected material much easier to accomplish and more difficult to police.
The illicit trade in counterfeit records, films, audio and videotapes, compact disks, computer programs and other goods has been greatly facilitated by the ease with which such goods can be reproduced and distributed. Companies and businesses are losing vast sums of money as a result of this bootlegging, piracy, and counterfeiting.
The protection of intellectual property can be divided into four general categories: (1) copyrights; (2) trademarks; (3) trade secrets; and (4) patents.