Patent Infringement

Companies often spend thousands, if not millions, of dollars developing inventions. The wisest companies patent those invents to prevent others from using, making, selling, or importing the patented invention—usually for 20 years from the patent application date.

If a company or person uses the patented invention during the patent’s lifetime, the patent holder is entitled to sue for patent infringement.

Key Points related to Patent Infringement Include:

Scope of Patent Claims: The claims in a patent define the scope of the protection granted. Patent infringement occurs when someone engages in activities that fall within the scope of the “claims” without the patent holder’s permission. A patent “claim” itself is a statement within the patent that defines the patent’s scope of protection. The claim ordinarily is a specific, detailed description of the subject matter that the inventor believes is new, useful, and non-obvious. Patent claims are crucial components of a patent document, and they play a central role in determining the rights of the patent holder.

Unauthorized Use: Unauthorized use of a patented invention constitutes infringement. This can include manufacturing, selling, offering for sale, using, or importing a product or process that embodies the patented invention.

Direct and Indirect Infringement: Direct infringement involves making, using, selling, or importing the patented invention without authorization. Indirect infringement may involve activities that contribute to or induce others to infringe the patent.

Defenses: Defenses often exist for alleged patent infringement. These defenses may include challenging the validity of the patent, asserting that the accused activities do not fall within the scope of the patent claims, or claiming that the patent holder’s rights are unenforceable for various reasons.

Exhaustion Doctrine: In some jurisdictions, including the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, the exhaustion doctrine limits the patent holder’s rights after an authorized sale of a patented product. Once a patented product is sold, the purchaser has the right to use or sell that single patented product for its lifetime.

Relief for Trademark Infringement

Injunctions: A patent holder nearly always seek a injunction against a patent infringer. An injunction is a court order that prohibits the infringing party from continuing the unauthorized use of the patented invention.

Money Damages: The patent holder may seek monetary damages resulting from the infringement. Damages can include compensation for the actual financial losses suffered by the patent holder as a result of the infringement. In some cases, the patent holder may also seek damages equivalent to the profits that the infringing party gained from the unauthorized use of the patented invention.

Royalties: Instead of or in addition to damages, a court may award the patent holder ongoing royalties for the use of the patented invention. This may be applicable if the infringing party is willing to license the patented technology.

Attorneys’ Fees: Under certain circumstances, the prevailing party in a patent infringement lawsuit may be awarded attorneys’ fees and litigation costs. To be eligible for attorney’s fees, the prevailing party must show that the case is “exceptional.” The term “exceptional” is not precisely defined, but courts have interpreted it to mean cases that involve, for example, bad faith litigation tactics, misconduct, or baseless claims. While not the only factor, a finding of willful infringement can contribute to a case being deemed exceptional. Willful infringement occurs when the infringing party’s actions are found to be intentional, knowing, or reckless.

Enhanced Damages: Speaking of willful infringement, in such cases—where the infringing party’s actions are considered intentional and egregious, a court may award enhanced damages to the patent holder. This is meant to deter willful misconduct.

Recall or Destruction of Infringing Products: The court may order the infringing party to recall or destroy products that incorporate the patented invention.

Exclusion Orders (for International Trade Commission Cases): In the United States, the International Trade Commission (ITC) may issue exclusion orders to prevent the importation of infringing products.

Protect your innovations! Act now against patent infringement. Cronkhite Counsel is your strategic partner in navigating legal avenues to safeguard your intellectual property rights.

Cronkhite Counsel is here to serve. Feel free to contact us to discuss how we can help.

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