Patent infringements are a common occurrence, especially in a world where new products are designed, manufactured, and sold worldwide and where copycats are a dime a dozen. Many of these infringements become lawsuits or litigations that affect both the complainant and the defendant. The effects can be surprising, too, such as when the complainant ends up shouldering huge litigation expenses that could have been avoided if an amicable settlement was made. Here take a look on the U.S. patent infringement lawsuit for ease of understanding.
The bottom line: Be careful about filing a patent infringement lawsuit because it can have unforeseen consequences. But if you have a great patent lawyer and you have just cause, then you may well benefit from filing it. Here are a few things that you may want to know.
All patent infringement actions have to be filed in the United States District Courts, the general courts of the country’s federal court system. The venue makes sense because patents are considered national in scope and, thus, their litigations should be heard in a national (i.e., federal) court.
Since there’s at least one judicial district for every state, as well as in the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, and the United States Virgin Islands, the issue of geographical location shouldn’t be a big deal. Currently, there are 94 judicial districts in 50 states and the territories.
The patent infringement action should be filed within six years, maximum, after the date in which the infringement occurred in order to recover damages. Unlike other statutes of limitations, furthermore, the six-year period can be extended when the parties agree to it. For example, a tolling agreement can be in effect while the settlement negotiations are in progress.
But the six-year prescription period cannot be extended by reason of concealment or fraud. For example, if you discover that your invention was incorporated in a machinery 10 years after the fact, you’re unlikely to sue for damages if the infringer covered up the use. We have to say that the rules and regulations of patent infringements don’t automatically favor the patent owner or holder.
While patent infringement lawsuits can be under a jury, the judge alone has the responsibility to interpret the claims for patent ownership made by the plaintiff and the counterclaims of the defendant. The judge and/or jury examines the patent and makes comparisons of the elements made in the lawsuit, said comparison being between the patent’s design and the infringer’s product or process.
From the comparisons made, the judge or jury then decides on the merit of the plaintiff’s claims actually and significantly cover the defendant’s product or process. In case of a read on, the legal term used to describe the plaintiff’s claim covering the product or process, then an infringement offense can be considered.
In the United States, patents grant their owners the exclusive manufacture, use and sale, among other ownership rights, of the inventions. These are considered as grants of limited monopoly granted to inventors by the federal government, specifically by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). But in a world filled with copycats, patents aren’t always respected by the non-holders, an action that can result in patent infringement.
Did you know that patent rights are older than freedom of speech and freedom of the press? Patent rights are actually included in the U.S. Constitution, which was adopted in 1787, under Article I, Section 8! Many of the basic American rights were only established in the Bill of Rights in 1791 or 14 years later.
Through the years, the implementing rules and regulations of patent rights changed in accordance with the times. In the 21st century, these are governed by 35 United States Code, a federal law.
Why are these things important for an inventor to know? If you read the code in its entirety – or at least, gain a basic understanding of its provisions – you will have a deeper understanding of patent infringement.
In a nutshell, patent infringement is the commission of a prohibited act regarding a patented invention without the current patent holder’s or owner’s permission. Keep in mind that patents are property and, thus, these can be bought and sold – the current patent owner must be aggrieved by the commission of the prohibited act. The act can take the forms of making, using, selling or offering to sell, and importing the invention or its equivalent.
Emphasis must also be made that no patent infringement action can be started without a valid patent issued. But inventors can secure pre-grant protection under 35 U.S.C. § 154(d) or file a provisional patent application (PPA).
Wilful and Unintentional Infringement
Wilful patent infringement refers to the deliberate commission of the prohibited act on the part of the offender. Unintentional patent infringement isn’t an excuse for committing it, an adjunct to the principle that ignorance of the law doesn’t excuse the offender.
The former typically involves the offender ignoring the fact that a patent for the product or process already exists and going ahead with its manufacture, use or sales. Many copycats are guilty of this type of patent infringement.
The latter can arise from the cliché that great minds think alike. In many cases, two inventors create essentially the same invention even when they work independently (i.e., the other has no knowledge about the other’s work). In these cases, the general rule is that the inventor who applies for a patent and who has sufficient proof that he was the first to make the invention will be awarded patent rights.
Do you have issues about patent infringement? You should consult a patent attorney for legal advice ASAP!
It is also vital to submit your patent application ASAP. As the patent application is quite professional, we suggest hiring an experienced patent attorney for individuals and organizations.