Infringement is a term used to refer to a violation of intellectual property or patent rights. For patent rights, this may come in the form of manufacturing products using the same methods as a patented invention. Selling or distributing the process used for building the invention is likewise considered an infringement.

For intellectual property rights, on the other hand, common violations are reproduction and unauthorized distribution of intellectual or artistic output.

An inventor, for example, can register his invention and be granted a patent for it. This means that he will be given the rights to decide on who can make use of the invention. He also has the option to sell the rights or grant licenses for its use.

Artists and musicians hold similar rights, as far as reproduction and distribution of the final product go. Copyright law decides on the rights that artists, writers, and producers of intellectual output have over their works. Copyright infringement involving electronic media is also referred to as piracy. The reproduction of audio CDs and DVDs, for instance, falls under this category.

Although this is illegal, mass reproduction takes place, particularly in developing countries, where these are sold at a much lower price than the originals. The Internet age has also made unauthorized distribution of movies and music easier through file sharing. The use of written content can also be considered infringement, although the more popular term is plagiarism.

Violators of copyright or patent rights may be held liable in court. Courts are responsible for deciding on whether an infringement has been committed, as well as on other circumstances surrounding the act.