Obtaining a patent is an exciting time and often a turning point for someone who has spent months or years working on a design or application. Unfortunately, simply having a patent does not always protect the patent holder from potential legal issues. It is just as important to have legal representation at the ready in the event that a patent problem, such as an infringement issue, emerges. Having a law firm with attorneys who understands patent litigation as well as the best way to respond to this situation is critical. Time is of the essence in a patent infringement claim since the longer someone else uses what should be protected material has a direct impact on your rights and revenue.
Patent litigation arises when one party accuses another of infringing a patent and the parties are unable to negotiate a resolution. Although the purpose of a patent filing is to protect the inventor or party to whom rights have been assigned from infringement, patent litigation may be complex and technical,and the simple fact that one party has been granted a patent may not control the outcome of the case. Therefore, it is in your best interest to involve an experienced patent litigation attorney as soon as an issue arises.
As a business dealing with technology and innovation in any of a number of possible forms, you may find yourself in the position of either initiating patent litigation to protect your rights or defending yourself against a patent infringement claim.
Proving Patent Infringement
The patent holder bears the burden of establishing infringement, regardless of which party commences the claim. However, the burden of proof is merely a preponderance of the evidence, which means simply that the evidence makes it more likely than not that the patent has been or is being infringed.
Patent infringement is a matter of technical fact, and it is not necessary that the defendant intended to infringe the plaintiff’s patent or even was aware of the infringement. However, the court may find in favor of the defendant in a patent infringement case if the patent is found to be invalid or if the defendant’s use is not identical or equivalent.
Patent Infringement Remedies
A patent infringement claim arises when one party accuses the other of manufacturing, utilizing or offering to sell goods, technology or processes that are protected by patent. Whether you are suing to protect your intellectual property or have been named in a patent litigation suit, it is helpful to understand some possible outcomes of a patent infringement case and the options that are open to you and the other party.
Settling a Patent Infringement Claim
Often, a patent infringement case is filed not because the patent holder objects to the defendant’s use, but because the patent holder has not been compensated for that use. In such a case, it may be possible to negotiate payment and a licensing agreement that allows the defendant to continue doing business while providing fair compensation to the patent holder.
Of course, not every case is a good candidate for settlement. But, with experienced patent litigators on both sides of the case, it will be possible to make a realistic assessment of the likely outcome and negotiate a resolution that will be workable for both parties.
Money Damages in Patent Litigation
A patent holder whose rights have been infringed will generally be entitled to monetary damages. Depending on the specifics of the case, these damages may cover the plaintiff’s lost profits, or may represent royalties the defendant would have paid had the invention been properly licensed.
However, in the vast majority of cases, money damages alone are insufficient to redress the wrong. The plaintiff will typically need to pursue injunctive relief or negotiate a settlement in order to put a stop to ongoing or repeat infringement.
Patent Infringement Injunction
If the federal court finds that the defendant’s product or service makes use of the patented invention without appropriate licensing or assignment, the court may order that the defendant halt sales, cease production and otherwise put a stop to the infringement. While this remedy protects the patent holder from further infringement, it addresses only future infringement and does not in itself entitle the patent holder to compensation.
A skilled patent litigator will usually pursue both injunctive relief to stop future infringement and monetary compensation for past infringement. While the pursuit of both avenues is often necessary to make the patent holder whole, the impact on the defendant company can be devastating. A business deemed liable for monetary damages and enjoined from providing the product or service determined to have infringed the patent may find itself facing a monetary judgment while simultaneously losing or stalling an important revenue stream.
Patent Enforcement Matters
Patent issues are so integral to the success or failure of a business that you cannot afford to delay, hope for the best or rely on your general business attorney in a patent litigation situation. Whether you are the patent holder or the accused infringer, get a knowledgeable, capable patent litigation lawyer on your side as soon as you are aware of the issue. Contact KPPB LAW for more information.
Patent Litigation Overview
Protecting the interests of a patent holder is often the primary reason that someone will seek insight from a patent litigator. There are many individuals who may hold patents, including those who have invented or contributed to the development of items such as:
- Medical devices
- Television set up boxes
- Email and internet-related technologies
- Oil drilling
- Water treatment
- Electrical components
- And many others
Claims of patent infringement can represent a significant risk to the patent holder. Disputes regarding ownership of patents, patent licenses, and inventorship can also be extremely problematic for all involved individuals. This is why it is essential to consult with knowledgeable counsel about patent litigation issues.
Frequently, in patent litigation issues, the litigators may work closely with patent specialists who have the relevant technical knowledge associated with the item or development in question.
Patent litigation can be expensive and lengthy, but the burden is not as heavy with the insight of the right patent litigation firm. A patent litigation firm should explore all the relevant legal issues in the case to best represent the client. When a business venture or another entity owns a patent and that patent is in any way infringed, the patent owner will rarely have alternatives outside patent litigation.
In order to fully protect your rights, you need to take action immediately after you become aware of a patent issue. Having an established relationship with a knowledgeable patent attorney allows an immediate response to address legal issues before they escalate any further. In an ideal situation, issues involving patent infringement can be addressed well before going to court. Unfortunately, however, some situations need to escalate to the level of litigation to resolve them effectively.
A successful outcome in patent litigation can give the owner of the patent some peace of mind about how to handle similar issues in the future, and it can also lay the groundwork for other strategies that can help prevent future conflicts. Having an attorney who is already familiar with the key legal issues allows a prompt response, so it is in the best interests of the business owner to tap into an experienced patent litigation firm early in the process.
Possible Outcomes of Patent Litigation
There are several common outcomes associated with patent litigation, and it is valuable to be aware of these before consulting with a patent litigator.
- Exclusion order. This is similar to a permanent injunction as it would stop the person infringing the patent from importing products that use that infringed patent into the United States. However, the exclusion order does not allow the patent owner to be compensated for damages.
- Injunctive relief. A patent litigator exploring a total patent litigation tactic may seek an injunction against the person infringing the patent to stop production or sale of the infringing service or product using the patent. This may stop the illegal use of the patent, but does not provide any compensation to the owner of the patent.
- Negotiated settlements. In the event that a patent owner has a well-financed and skilled firm handling the litigation, the patent owner may be able to avoid litigation altogether and negotiate settlement involving a licensing arrangement wherein the patent owner receives money for use of the patent. This may also include:
- Retroactive payments for use of the patent.
- Monetary damages
A patent owner may be eligible to recover damages from the infringing party in this type of settlement, such as lost profits that would have been made from the patent and, at a minimum, royalties from the infringing party who used the patent. Consulting with a knowledgeable patent litigation firm is an essential next step.
If you need help with patent issues, contact KPPB LAW today.