Patent Enforcement and patent infringement litigation is the responsibility of the owner. Get the facts

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Patent Infringement

When patent infringement occurs, patent enforcement is 100% the responsibility of the patent owner. While the US Patent and Trademark Office issues patents, it does not enforce them. When patent infringement is discovered, it is the responsibility of the owner of the patent to pursue the infringer through civil litigation – specifically, filing a patent infringement lawsuit.

What Is Patent Infringement? Also known as “patent violation,” patent infringement is the unauthorized use of a patented invention to produce or offer for sale a product or service, and patent infringement can be willful or unintentional. It is possible, for example, for a business to be using a patented process in a product or service it sells, totally unaware of the fact that they are committing patent infringement. However, there are businesses that willfully infringe a patent, and do so believing that the patent owner will not pursue the infringement. Whether unintentional or willful, patent infringement is patent infringement, and the patent owner is entitled to compensation for the use of his intellectual property!

Pursuing Patent Infringers: A patent owner who believes his (or her or its) patent has been infringed has only one option, file a patent infringement lawsuit. Unfortunately, filing a patent infringement lawsuit is an expensive and lengthy affair. The median cost of a patent infringement lawsuit is $4 million, and a patent infringement lawsuit can easily take four or five years to work its way through the courts. However, PatentsR.Us offers a free service that may be able to find you a patent litigator that will finance the cost of the litigation.

Award or Settlement: The two possible positive outcomes of a patent infringement lawsuit are to win the case at trial and have the court determine the award (the compensation to be paid to the patent owner by the patent infringer for infringement of the patent) or to reach an out-of-court settlement with the infringer. The out-of-court settlement may be a lump sum payment or a licensing agreement that pays a royalty to the patent owner. To learn more, visit our patent infringement page.

PatentsR.Us: Whether you are an inventor seeking to patent your first invention, or you are a patent holder with many inventions, Patents R.Us offers several valuable services. If you need a patent practitioner to help you secure a patent, we offer a free Patent Agent - Patent Attorney Referral Service. We also offer many informative articles on patent-related topics and links to other helpful sites.




Patent Enforcement

A patent is not the right to use (or “practice”) the patent you own. A US Patent is, in fact, the right to exclude others from using your patent. Therefore, patent enforcement is the pursuit of those who are using your patented invention without your permission. Patent enforcement – determining who is infringing your patent, and then pursuing the infringer − is totally the responsibility of the patent owner, and is not a simple matter.

Patent Enforcement Options: Some patent owners will contact the infringer and attempt to work out an amicable arrangement to license the patent. Such attempts at patent enforcement are sometimes successful, and the license that results from such an encounter is referred to in Patent lingo as a “carrot license” (from the carrot and stick analogy). If a license is secured through a patent infringement lawsuit, or the threat of a patent infringement lawsuit, it is known as a “stick license.”

Limited Patent Enforcement Remedies: The patent owner who does not practice his patent (that is, he does not use the patented invention to produce a product or service) is known as an NPE (non-practicing entity), and the courts have ruled that a NPE cannot receive injunctive relief. That is, the courts will not provide the non-practicing patent owner with a very attractive patent enforcement remedy − issue an injunction forcing the patent infringer from further use of the patent. A “market participant” (a patent owner that practices the patent) may receive injunctive relief, but it is a lengthy and expensive process. Preventing a person or business from using your patent is very difficult, involving patent litigation, so the practical patent enforcement remedy that is available to most patent owners is to secure compensation for the use of your patent.

Patent Enforcement Firms: Filing a patent infringement lawsuit is the primary patent enforcement weapon, and the patent owner has two options in this regard. He can engage a law firm that specializes in patent enforcement, or he can engage a patent enforcement firm, a company that specializes in assisting patent owners with patent enforcement. A patent enforcement firm is not a law firm, but rather a company that provides a full range of patent enforcement services. They will engage a law firm to try the case (or several law firms if there are multiple infringers), they will provide additional services, and they work on a 100% contingency basis, financing all patent enforcement costs. There are no out-of-pocket costs to the patent owner, and the patent enforcement firm is compensated from the proceeds of any awards or settlements that result from the patent infringement litigation they initiate. To locate a patent enforcement firm to look at your patent enforcement claim, use our Patent Litigator Referral Service.