Counteracting Patent Infringement
It is unfortunately a fact of life and indeed business that there are those who may wish to use your invention and call it their own. Likewise you may find that an invention very similar to yours has appeared on the market or is about to. If so what can you do to prevent it, here we examine how you can protect yourself against Patent Infringement.
What is Patent Infringement?If you already have a patent for your invention and are the manufacturing stage then you may find that another company has gone into production with a similar model. Often patent infringement is simply the taking of your design but with some subtle changes made so that the other company or manufacturer can claim the invention as their own.
Although not a widespread problem because of the tight restrictions on patenting it does happen and you should be aware that it does before you register your patent.
Carrying Out a Patent SearchBefore patenting your own invention a patent search is carried out to see if there are any other products already under patent which may be like yours. If this is the case then your patent will be refused however if you find there are no patents identical or similar to yours then you can carry on with your patent application. A patent agent will carry out this search for you and report back their findings.
It may be worthwhile running a patent search after your patent licence has been granted in order to establish if anyone else has tried to patent your invention. You should be aware that once your invention has been patented all designs and information relating to it are publicly available making it possible for copying to take place.
Making It Known You Suspect Patent InfringementYou should try – where possible – only to consider the idea of a court case as a last resort. Patent infringement cases can be very expensive and last a long time, sometimes years depending on the intricacy of the patent and the invention involved.
Initially you should make contact by recorded mail with the individual or company you suspect of patent infringement with detailed analysis of your invention versus theirs and also a letter stipulating your reasons for citing patent infringement.
Where possible this letter should lead to a meeting with those individuals directly responsible for the manufacture of the product where you should state your case clearly but in a courteous manner. You may find that you can come to an arrangement that suits all parties such as joint manufacture or the buying of a licence to manufacture your product for a unit percentage sale.
Taking the Legal RouteAs we have already mentioned pursuing a patent infringement case to court is an expensive and lengthy process with no guarantees at the end of it. Unless you can prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the other parties have deliberately set out to defraud you then it may be difficult for a judge to reach a decision thus leaving the patent outstanding. Indeed if a judge cannot decide then he or she may rule that no one is allowed to manufacture the product so it is imperative that you have as much information and evidence to back up your claim as possible.
Again it is important to consult with legal representatives before embarking on such a course of action and you should only do so after all other possibilities have been exhausted.