As an innovator and patent holder, you are in charge of protecting your own patented work. While the U.S. Patent Trademark Office (PTO) issues the patent, they take no responsibility in enforcement. Instead, you must identify and enforce the patent.
This article identifies the three types of potential patent infringement claims and explains what to do (and when to do it) if you think someone is stealing your invention.
Three Types of Patent Infringement
1. Direct – a single individual or company carries out “each and every element” of the patent infringement. For example, Pharmaceutical Company A copies, without permission, a patented formula for a new cancer drug that is patented by Pharmaceutical Company B.
2. Indirect – An individual or company supplies a product to another individual or company that can only be used in a manner that would infringe upon a patent.
For example, Electric Parts Company A sells a part 1 that can only be used in conjunction with Company B’s part 2. If the parts were sold together, a direct infringement of Company C’s patent would result. There is no other use for the part 1.
3. Induced – like a captain of a ship, an individual or company is responsible for the patent infringement of all those he/she or it controls. For example, Company A hires Company B to make steam irons that Company A knows violates a valid patent.
What to Do if Your Patent is Being Infringed
It is imperative to consult with a patent (i.e. intellectual property) attorney to get good advice, relevant to your individual situation. You’ve, likely, worked long and hard not only to develop your invention, but also to document it and have the patent issued. You are in charge of enforcing your own patent, with the help of legal counsel.
When to Contact a Patent Attorney
Get good legal advice right away because otherwise, your claim may be barred.
For example, under the legal doctrine of laches, if you don’t act right away, the law says that you “slept on your rights.” The competitor will claim that they relied on your failure to act, spending, time, money, and man-power on the product. This means that you can’t get financial compensation for any infringement.
In addition, every legal case (whether patent, or otherwise) has a statute of limitations. This means that you must bring suit within a specific period of time or you won’t be entitled to compensation for any infringement.
Bottom line, you must be your own advocate, in identifying and enforcing patent infringement. If you think that your patent has been infringed, consult with a qualified patent law attorney. Roland Tong has helped many companies enforce their patent rights against infringers. He can be reached by phone at 888-350-6265 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Mr. Tong provides every client with a Client Service Guarantee, in which he guarantees the high quality of personal services provided in protecting your invention. Mr. Tong represents clients in various technical fields nationwide.