What is Patent Infringement?
Patent infringement is when a company or individual uses, manufactures, imports, sells, or offers a patent protected invention for sale without a license from the patent holder. Patent infringement liability in the United States also extends to those who knowingly induce others to infringe.
Types of Patent Infringement:
1. Direct Patent Infringement
Direct patent infringement is when a company or individual produces, sells, or imports a product or technology that is protected by a patent. Direct patent infringement is often times accidental but carries high costs and damages.
2. Indirect Patent Infringement
Indirect patent infringement often involves a level of deception and involves either induced patent infringement or contributory infringement which we will describe next. This type of infringement typically relates to companies or individuals that knowingly aid a third party in the infringement or sell components they know would only be used in the case of infringement.
3. Contributory Patent Infringement
Contributory patent infringement occurs when a company or individual knowingly sells components that are only reasonably used for a patented invention.
4.Induced Patent Infringement
Induced patent infringement occurs when a company or individual license a previously patented invention or sell instructions on how to construct a patented invention. This type of infringement often leads to direct infringement by the third party and is a case where the ‘inducer’ knowingly aided in the infringement without directly infringing on the patent themselves.
Patent Infringement Cost
Patent infringement can end up costing a patent holder a tremendous amount of money in lost opportunity in the marketplace and carries heavy penalties for infringers. Due to the complexity of patent infringement legal cases, the cost of going to court on patent infringement is often very costly to both parties in the short term.
How to Sue for Patent Infringement Damages
To sue for patent infringement damages, a patent holder must be able to prove patent infringement by a company or individual and be able to directly relate that infringement to damages they incurred. These damages can be calculated as lost investment, market opportunity, market growth, company growth, etc. Often, patent damages are calculated on a variety of factors including a factor of the money made by the infringing party.
Patent Infringement Examples
Every day there are patent infringement lawsuits that are filed and settled. Some of the best patent infringement examples are those that have been in the mainstream media over the past several months. Below, I have listed several examples of patent infringement.
- Microsoft infringement on i4i’s patented technology.
In 2010, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit sided with i4i in its patent lawsuit against Microsoft for infringing on a patent in its versions of Microsoft 2003 and 2007. The court awarded i4i Ltd more than $290 million dollars in damages as well as an injunction against Microsoft preventing it from selling the versions of its infringing software. Microsoft was then forced to pay i4i royalties to continue sales of the software.
- Jonathan Benson infringement on Benchmade’s Patents and Trademark
In 2011, the United States District Court of Oregon issued a final judgment June 7th ruling that Benson had in fact infringed on their patents and trademark and enjoined the company to stop immediately. It is not clear as to the monetary damages Benchmade was awarded.
Patent Infringement Trolls
There are many patent infringement attorneys and groups that are referred to as trolls. These are companies that license, purchase, or represent patent holders specifically for the purpose of patent litigation against infringers. The practice has been noticeably profitable over the past decade in which most cases take place in the District Court of the Eastern District of Texas.
What to do if someone is infringing on my patent?
If an individual or company is infringing on your patent, it is important to seek patent attorney representation immediately. While patent infringement litigations costs are often high, do not let this deter you. Many attorneys will take patent infringement cases on ‘contingency’ due to their high payouts. This means that in many cases you can attain representation without funding the case yourself. If you are interested in speaking with a patent attorney with experience in patent litigation, you may call us at 832-683-1527 for a free consultation.