If you have a product and have gone through the trouble of having it patented, then you may keep an eye on similar products when they pop on the market. And, if you feel that one of these products has violated your patent, then you do have the option of suing the individual for patent infringement. There are a few things you should understand about patent litigation before you contact a lawyer.
There Are Different Types Of Infringement
Patent infringement and the law surrounding patents is quite complicated. And, there are a variety of different types of infringement that can occur. The most obvious and straightforward type is called direct infringement where the product is copied and manufactured directly by a company or individual. This type of infringement may be willful, where the individual understood that the product held a patent or accidental where the person had no idea.
Also, you may see a case of indirect infringement where a person or company assists another in creating a patented device. There is also contributory infringement where a small piece of part of the patented product was copied. This part must be produced for the sole purpose of creating the infringing product by another manufacturer.
In cases where no direct infringement is identified, it may be difficult to figure out if you do or do not have a patent case. A patent lawyer can help to determine if there is a possibility, but the courts will ultimately need to decide whether your patent was infringed upon.
You Can Expect An Award
If the court decides that your patent was infringed upon, then you can expect to receive an award for this. The offending party will need to pay a penalty and this penalty will depend on whether or not the infringement was willful. Willful patent infringement does hold a higher penalty than accidental issues. In some cases, you may be awarded several times your damages as well as attorney's fees.
In addition to the monetary award or in lieu of compensation, you have the right to ask the offending manufacturer to discontinue the manufacture of the product. Oftentimes, patent litigation is a lengthy court process, especially if larger companies are involved in the infringement. For this reason, it is sometimes wise to settle the case outside of court. Your lawyer can help you to decide on what you want from the case and how to proceed with the settlement.
If you want to know more about patent infringement and whether you have a case involving your product, speak with a patent attorney.