Information on Patent Infringement

When a person, business or other entity uses a patent it does not own and does not have permission to use, that’s patent infringement. Patent owners are entitled to compensation for the use of their patented inventions, but it is up to the patent owner to pursue justice through civil litigation.

Not a Rare Event: When a person or business infringes on a patent, they trespass on someone else’s property – more specifically, that person’s intellectual property. The infringing entity takes from the owner of the patent revenue that rightly belongs to the patent owner.

Proving Infringement: The burden falls on the patent owner to prove infringement of the patent. Just as the prosecution in a criminal trial needs to prove the defendant is guilty, in a patent infringement lawsuit, it is the responsibility of the plaintiff to prove that the defendant infringed the patented invention. This is usually done by reverse-engineering the product or service the defendants produces and/or sells, and expert witnesses are often called upon by both sides to testify in court.

Infringement Is Easy: Since patents are public documents, it is easy for any business with larceny in its blood to essentially “steal” a patent and use it to produce a product or service. And the law does not require manufacturers to inform patent owners that they are using the patent owner’s invention. Patnet infringement can also be unintentional. It is sometimes the case that an inventory files and receives a patent for his invention, and a business’s research and development facility creates the same invention. As the expression goes, “Great minds think alike.” In one of the most famous patent lawsuits in history, Alexander Graham Bell in Boston and Elisha Gray in Chicago came up with virtually the same invention at almost the same time, and the dispute over who was to be awarded the patent for the “harmonic telegraph” (known today as the telephone) went all the way to the Supreme Court. However, even if patent infringement is unintentional, the rightful patent owner is still entitled to compensation for the use of his patented invention.

Proving Patent Infringement: In a patent infringement lawsuit, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff (the patent owner) to prove that the defendant (the alleged infringer) is infringing the patent owner’s patented invention. If the patent owner can prove willful infringement, the court may award treble damages.

Multiple Infringers: Not only is patent infringement common, it is not uncommon for several companies to be infringing the same patent. For example, Acticon Technologies LLC, owner of the patent for PC cards know as “smart connectors,” found that many computer equipment and computer peripheral manufacturers where infringing its patent. Acticon, represented by patent enforcement firm General Patent Corporation , filed 26 separate lawsuits and was able to secure over 150 licensing agreements for its patents!