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The basics of patent infringement and litigation

by | Sep 21, 2021 | Patent Law

A patent provides an inventor with exclusive rights to prevent others from commercially using their invention. However, this does not mean that a patent cannot be infringed. When a patent is threatened, mainly through infringement, the owner may take need to take legal action to protect their interests.

One of the ways of safeguarding a patented invention after infringement is through filing a lawsuit alleging infringement of the patent. Patent litigation may result in monetary damages or court orders against the infringement. Read on to learn more about what happens after someone makes, sells or uses a patented item without the authority of the patent owner.

Where and when does patent infringement litigation take place?

Patent litigation happens in a federal district court, since patents are governed by federal law. The patent owner can take legal action as soon as their patent issues, and must file the lawsuit within six years from the date of infringement.

What are the defenses to patent infringement claims?

The infringing party may counter the lawsuit by trying to prove that the patent is not valid, i.e., should never have been granted, often because of ‘prior art’ of which the patent examiner was unaware. Another defense is that the defendant’s product does not actually infringe the patent.

Must infringement be direct?

Patent infringement occurs in the following ways;

  • Direct infringement: Occurs when a person or company manufactures a patented item without permission.
  • Indirect infringement: Occurs when a party helps another party in infringing a patent.

What are the remedies for patent infringement?

If the court finds that there was infringement, the defendant may pay damages to the patent owner. The two types of damages involved in a patent infringement lawsuit include actual damages and reasonable royalties for infringement. Actual damages may consist of profits that the patent owner would have made if there was no infringement.

The infringing party may also be entitled to costs such as court filing fees and other litigation expenses. Finally, the court may issue a permanent injunction that will ban the infringer from using the patented invention again.