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Patent Infringement

Definition - What does Patent Infringement mean?

A patent is a governmental license that provides protection for the distinctive features of an invention or product, the novelty of the invention or the significant development of a product.

Currently, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will provide three different types of patents: plant patents, utility patents and design patents. Regardless of the type of patent granted, the patent grants exclusive authority to the patent holder to sell, use, or make the product or invention for a specific duration.

Patent infringement occurs if a patent exists but another person or entity decides to use, sell, offer or produce the patented invention without the authority of the patent holder. Prior to performing any of the actions listed above, as they relate to the patented product, the offender should have requested permission to use, sell or make the product by requesting a license from the patent holder.

Justipedia explains Patent Infringement

United States patent owners may file an injunction against the alleged infringer in order to stop all future actions related to the patented product. A preliminary injunction will temporarily stop the defendant and may be issued while litigation is pending. Assuming that the patent holder wins their claims against the patent infringer, the court will issue a permanent injunction.

Patent infringement is a civil wrong. Compensation for patent infringement may be awarded if the patent holder can provide sufficient evidence to prove their claim.

The first step is to file the complaint in the appropriate federal court in the proper jurisdiction. The complaint must outline how the defendant has infringed on the patent, the validity of the patent and the compensation required to compensate the patent holder for the loss caused by the patent infringement.

Damages awarded if the case is won must be “adequate to compensate for the infringement, but in no event less than a reasonable royalty for the use made of the invention by the infringer, together with interest and costs as fixed by the court” (35 U.S. Code § 284 - Damages).

In layman’s terms, this means that the damages may equal compensatory damages and/or lost profits, but even if the plaintiff chooses not to prove these damages, they may still be entitled to reasonable royalty as per the federal statute on patent compensation.

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