Litigation of IP matters takes several forms. One involves patents, which cover inventions on designs and products, as well as the processes through which they are manufactured or used. Patent infringement refers to the unauthorized use of a patented invention, at which point litigation can arise.

Trademarks and copyrights also can be infringed. A trademark can be a symbol, logo, word, sound, color, or name that identifies the source of a product and distinguishes it from that of others. Copyrights protect works of authorship, such as writings, music, and art. Copyrights and trademarks grant holders exclusive rights to use their works, and an unauthorized use can lead to litigation.