Obtaining a patent is a somewhat complex process. However, it is absolutely worthwhile for those who have invested money or personal efforts in the development of a process, product or concept.
With a patent, the person who came up with an idea or the company who bought it from its creator has the legal right to monopolize that information until the patent expires. Only they can use the idea protected by the patent for commercial purposes.
While the patent is still in effect, the holder of the patent has the right to take legal action against those who violate their patent protections. Common patent violations come in many shapes and sizes. For example, indirect patent violations might involve someone encouraging a third party to violate the patent rights of someone else.
Which forms of patent violations should patent holders be most concerned about when it comes to litigation for enforcement purposes?
Direct or willful infringement of a patent involves a person or a company openly using your idea, replicating your process or creating a knock-off version of your product. It is clear that they have either obtained inside information or engaged in reverse engineering to do something that ultimately violates your patent rights. A direct violation could affect the market share that the patent holder has and lead to economic losses if they don’t take timely action.
Parallel advancements are a well-known phenomenon. As science and technology progress, people without any direct communication can sometimes make breakthroughs in the exact same areas of technology or product development. The one that filed the patent first will ultimately be the one with the right to utilize their discovery or idea for financial purposes.
The other company may not have directly intended to violate a patent, but if their process, product or service reflects the actual language used in the patents held by someone else, they may have committed literal infringement. Literal infringement may be unintentional, but it can still have economic consequences, which is why people choose to litigate when they discover it.
Any kind of patent infringement can have negative financial repercussions for the patent holder, necessitating legal action. Enforcement litigation not only stops one company from profiting off of your ideas but also has a chilling effect on others who may have wanted to try the same thing.