Friday, June 6, 2008

Possible Damages in Patent Infringement Violations

Violations on the use of one’s trademark or product name and design constitute patent infringement. An infringement occurs when any party manufactures, sells, imports, uses and offers a patented technology. In simple terms, anyone who sells a product similar to an existing licensed product is considered a violation of the law.

The article, "Santa Ana Patent Attorneys File Patent Infringement Lawsuit to Protect Wheel Design Patent from Copying", posted on June 4, 2008, discusses how difficult it is to pursue litigation against violators of one’s patent rights.

The case stemmed from a patent infringement lawsuit initiated by the inventor of a wheel design against a company who allegedly sells a similar product with similar design. Although the complaint was filed almost a year ago, and a cease and desist letter was sent to the patent pirate, no response has been received yet.

Patent pirates should realize that they could be held liable for their actions under the law.

When a court or jury determines that someone has infringed on another’s patent, the infringer can face several penalties. Violators face the following penalties for patent infringement:
  • The infringer will be required to pay a certain amount of money to the patent owner, which are made up of several components.
  • An infringer will have to pay money to compensate the inventor for the wrongful use of the patented invention. The specific amount, which can be determined by either a jury or the court, is calculated by figuring out what the infringer would have had to pay if he had legally licensed the invention, which is known as a royalty rate.
  • Under special circumstances, the court can take this royalty amount and awards triple the amount, known as “treble damages.” This is done where the infringer was found to act willfully or intentionally, knowing there was a patent in existence and infringing anyway.
  • The infringer is also likely to be required to pay interest on the money owed as well as the patent owner’s court costs (not his attorney’s fees but, rather, things like the money spent filing documents with the court)
  • the court will often issue an injunction, which is an order that the infringer stop infringing the patent and never do so in the future