A patent is a legal document that ensures an inventor’s original non-artistic work is protected from being copied, used, and sold by another party. The federal law grants different types of patents to inventions that meet particular criteria. In general, these criteria can be summarized into three qualifications. The invention must be novel, nonobvious, and useful. If the applicant can prove that their invention meets these qualifications, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) will grant patent protection that lasts up to 20 years.
With a patent in places, inventors can prevent competitors from making any use of their original creation and design. Violating such protection is called patent infringement and includes any act that makes use of a protected invention in any way. This entails to the manufacturing, importing, selling, or copying of a protected work without the explicit permission of the patent holder.
Patent infringement is often a complicated issue. Litigation can quickly turn into a long and complex process. Because of nuances in the laws surrounding intellectual property, the court and jury will have plenty of factors to consider when making a definitive decision. Specific details will need to be closely investigated to see if a patent has been infringed and violated by the defendant. In most cases, patent infringement is found when elements of a patented work are present in the device or process in questions. Through intense investigation and scrutiny, the court will try to find how much these elements match one another. Still, even if these matches aren’t exact, the defendant can still be found to be in violation of a patent if the similar works are considered equivalents.
Because patent law has plenty of nuances, inventors will need to get in touch with an experienced intellectual property lawyer. As pointed out by Gagnon, Peacock & Vereeke, P.C., the litigation process for patent infringement cases can be hard to predict. Patent holders stand the best chance with effective legal counsel by their side.