Patent Infringement

A patent, along with copyright laws, trademark and the state trade secret laws, is the U.S. legal system’s way of providing protection for all the original works of authors, artists and inventors. A patent, specifically, is a federal government-issued document that protects an original material invention from being exactly copied, and used and/or sold by another; it also gives the inventor the legal right to prohibit anyone from using the patented original work without his or her authorization or consent. 

Like any other properties, the sole rights of an inventor provided by a patent (which lasts for 20 years, beginning on the day the application for the patent was filed), may also be sold, mortgaged, rented, transferred through inheritance or taxed. As a patent expires or becomes invalid, the prohibition against anyone from using the invented thing also ceases.  

The U.S. legal system recognizes three types of patents: 

  • Plant patent–the patent that protects varieties of asexually reproduced and hybrid plants;
  • Design patent –the patent for the unique appearance of manufactured objects; and,
  • Utility patents – the patent meant to protect an invention, such as a technological device, a machine or a chemical, which has a specific purpose.

A particular invention gets patented only after an inventor’s application for patent has been filed with, and approved by, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Only then can an inventor start making profit from his/her patented invention, while simultaneously prohibiting or excluding others from using it. 

Inventors, however, shouldn’t just sit in amazement of their accomplishment, for in September of 2011, the America Invents Act (AIA) was passed into law and made policies that overhauled the U.S. patent system. One of the major changes that the AIA made was the implementation of the “first inventor to file” (from “first to invent”) rule to merit those who actually push to safeguard their invention; the change took effect on March 16, 2013.

Infringement, or the unauthorized use of intellectual properties, is one unlawful practice that the intellectual property laws protect original works against. As the provided protection allows the works’ creators to notify the public about their works and their (exclusive) right over their works, people who may have intentions of using them are somehow prevented from doing so, as they become cautious of the probable legal consequences their illegal act might result to.  

An infringement case, however, is quite costly and there are risks, even for the inventors of the original works. Winning a case, though, will stop further unauthorized use of the works; it will also enable an inventor to earn the royalties that he or she may have been denied of.    

According to the law firm Williams Kherkher, Patents are a commonly used legal tool to protect your intellectual property. Unfortunately, even with a patent in place, intellectual property may be threatened by infringing individuals or companies. When someone uses, produces, or sells a patented product, they are guilty of patent infringement. Patent infringement can cause serious financial harm to your business. Federal law governs patent infringement, making the legalities of patents difficult to navigate without the help of an experienced lawyer.


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