One of the most solid ways to protect an idea or invention is to get a patent. A patent extends legal protections to the inventor and allows them to take action if infringement occurs.
Both obtaining a patent and continuing to protect it is an ongoing task, and can be costly. Inventors should do their homework about patent infringement so that they can clearly identify any infringement and know what steps to take to stop infringers.
What Is Patent Infringement?
According to the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) , “Patent infringement is the act of making, using, selling, or offering to sell a patented invention, or importing into the United States a product covered by a claim of a patent without the permission of the patent owner.”
Getting a patent means that your idea, invention, or business is legally protected. However, USPTO is not responsible for policing your patent or identifying any violators or infringers. That’s up to the patent holder, as is ensuring that the patent does not lapse.
Also, U.S. patents only protect inventions within the U.S. Inventors seeking protection beyond our borders must file a patent application in every country where they want protection.
USPTO estimates that theft or counterfeiting of intellectual property costs U.S. businesses about $250 billion and 750,000 jobs annually. The issue often more profoundly affects small businesses, which sometimes lack the resources and knowledge to protect against infringement.
What to Do If You’ve Been Affected by Patent Infringement
If you learn that someone has copied your patented invention by making, using, selling, or importing it into the U.S., you can sue the offending individual or business at the federal level. While the suit is pending, you can ask for an injunction to stop the infringer and prevent any further actions on their part. You can also ask for damages.
Inventors should keep in mind that carrying out this process is up to them, and infringement suits can be both lengthy and extremely costly. When taking any kind of legal action, it is always best to seek the counsel of a patent attorney or other patent expert.
But before filing an infringement suit, you or your attorney may consider contacting the infringer through certified mail to try to resolve the dispute out of court. However, only courts can determine actual infringement, so make sure any correspondence clearly states that you believe that infringement has occurred. Courts determine infringement based on the language of your patent claim and whether the possible infringer’s invention falls within those claims.
We can help you with your patent or answer your patent-related questions. Call our inventor hotline at 888.864.1780 or email us at email@example.com.