What is patent violation?
A patent is not, as many people assume and believe, the right to use a certain technology or business practice. A patent is, instead, the right to exclude others from using a patented technology or process. When a person, business or other entity uses (or “practices”) a patented invention it does not own, and does not have permission to use that patent to create a product or service, patent violation (or, more properly, “patent infringement”) occurs.
Pursuing patent violation
The US Patent Office issues patents, it does not enforce them. It is the responsibility of the patent owner to enforce his patent, and that involves both identifying those who are violating the patent and pursuing a legal remedy through civil litigation. Patent violation litigation (more correctly “patent infringement litigation”) is tried in the Federal Court system.
Proving patent violation
In a criminal proceeding, the burden of proof is on the prosecutor. In a civil trial, the burden of proof is on the patent-owner plaintiff who initiates the legal action. The patent owner who pursues patent violation litigation has to prove that the alleged patent violator − the defendant in the lawsuit − is violating the patent. This can be done by reverse engineering the accused product. This will require the services of an expert such as an engineer or scientist who has credentials and will be believable in court as an expert witness.
Patent Violation Remedies
The patent owner can sue the alleged violator for infringing his patent. Compensation for violation of the patent can be the result of an award after a trial in which the court rules in the patent owner/plaintiff’s favor or as the result of an out-of-court settlement negotiated between the parties. It is not uncommon for civil lawsuits to be settled out of court, and this applies to patent litigation.
If the patent owner wins at trial, and is given an award of damages for prior use of the patent, the patent owner is then in a good position to negotiate a licensing agreement for future use of the patent. This is often referred to as a “stick license” since the patent violator is coerced into licensing the patent.
Launching a patent violation lawsuit
We’ve used the generic “he” to describe the patent owner. However, the owner of the patent can be a man or woman, a group of people, a business or university, another type of entity, or some combination of these. In some cases the patent violator is a large business with considerable resources. Thus is created a David vs. Goliath struggle between the inventor or small business that owns the patent − but has limited finances and resources − and the large corporation that is violating the patent that has unlimited resources and deep pockets. The result of this considerable imbalance is that few patent owners have the financial resources to successfully prosecute a patent violation lawsuit against a large corporation by themselves. They must often take advantage of the services offered by a patent enforcement firm like General Patent Corporation.
A patent violation lawsuit can payoff big!
Despite the seemingly overwhelming odds facing the inventor or entrepreneur-patent owner who is facing off against a large, patent violator corporate defendant, a patent violation lawsuit can pay off for the patent owner who is successful in his legal claim. While some settlements are modest, it is not uncommon for a patent violation settlement to run into the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars!
Multiple patent violators
It is not uncommon for there to be several businesses that are violating the same patent. Several companies in the same industry – for example, businesses that are selling competing products – or in related businesses can all be violating the same patent or patents. This may result in the patent owner having to file multiple patent violation lawsuits, one against each alleged violator of the patent. The services of a patent enforcement firm like General Patent Corporation become even more critical to success when there are several entities violating the patent!
Common patent violation mistakes
The patent owner with a claim of patent violation needs to be very careful in his pursuit of justice and compensation. Here are the most common missteps patent owners make when they attempt to pursue violators of their patent.
1. End Up the Defendant in a Lawsuit: General Patent Corporation recommends that a patent owner NOT contact the alleged violators of the patent until he has consulted with a patent enforcement expert. Contacting the company you believe is violating your patent could give them the opportunity to launch pre-emptive legal actions that will seriously endanger your claim!
2. Run Out of Money: It can easily cost a patent owner tens of thousands of dollars to pursue a patent violation lawsuit. In fact, the cost of a patent infringement lawsuit can run into the hundreds of thousands of dollars, and sometimes even $1 million or more! The patent owner pursing a patent violation lawsuit can easily lose his case not because his patent violation claim is not valid, but because he ran out of money! Patent owners must make sure before they pursue a patent violation lawsuit that they have the financial resources − or they have a partner with sufficient financial resources − to see the lawsuit through to a successful conclusion!
3. Ruin Their Lives: A recent motion picture, “Flash of Genius,” tells the story of Robert Kearns, the inventor of intermittent windshield wipers whose patent was violated by Ford, General Motors, Chrysler and American Motors. While Bob Kearns did eventually win his patent violation claim, he ruined his life in the process, becoming estranged from his family. That is why a patent owner pursuing patent violation litigation needs the expertise, experience, depth and resources of a patent enforcement firm such as General Patent Corporation.
Bad News for patent violators
While pursuing a patent violation claim can be risky if the process is not pursued intelligently and without the proper preparation, you can mitigate the risks. And you can substantially reduce the risks to you, the patent owner-plaintiff in the patent violation claim!
1. General Patent Will Analyze Your Patent Violation Claim: At no cost or obligation on your part, General Patent will take a look at your patent violation claim and determine its interest.
2. Contingency Representation: If General Patent believes you have a winnable and viable patent violation claim, the company will represent you on a contingency basis. That means General Patent will finance the entire cost of the ensuing patent violation litigation, and will be paid from the proceeds of the settlement, and only if General Patent is successful in securing a settlement for you! In the unlikely event that General Patent does NOT secure a settlement, General Patent is out the money it invested in the lawsuit, and there is NO cost to you, the patent owner!
3. Comprehensive Package of Services: General Patent will pursue your claim of patent violation with minimal interruption of your life. General Patent does all the research, identifies and engages a law firm to actually try the lawsuit, and pays for all research services and expert witnesses. Should there be the opportunity for an out-of-court settlement, General Patent will even negotiate a licensing agreement on your behalf.
The first step in proving patent violation
If you are a patent owner, and you believe you are the victim of patent violation, the smart strategy is to have General Patent analyze your patent violation claim. There is no cost to you, and it creates no liability on your part. To get started, complete a Proposal Request. Or you can call General Patent at 800-507-6690 Ext. 107 and we will answer any questions you have.