Discover how a patent law attorney can help with patent fraud and infringement.
If someone has stolen your idea, you’re likely thinking about hiring a patent law attorney to get back what’s yours. How an attorney can go about helping you largely depends on the type of theft involved.
If someone is making, using, selling (or offering to sell) your patented invention, without your permission, then you’re dealing with patent infringement. This also applies to “knock off” products produced overseas and then imported to the United States. Unless the item is “materially changed” by the processes, or is such a trivial component of the new product that it makes no difference, then you have a case for patent infringement.
In this instance, you must bring legal action within six years from the date of infringement; otherwise your case will be dismissed. If you’re within the relevant timeframe, then a patent law attorney can help you do a few things:
- Determine if you have a case. Patent law is extremely nuanced and can be difficult for a non-attorney to understand. This is also known as seeking an infringement opinion.
- Send a cease and desist letter. This is basically a letter telling the infringer you’ve caught on to what they are doing, and you want them to stop immediately. It can also include demands for sales numbers or other figures which could help you determine if you want bring suit or offer a settlement for damages.
- File a lawsuit. This can be a direct suit, or a counter-suit filed by you as a result of someone attempting to sue YOU for patent invalidation. Generally, you’re proving two things to the court with the lawsuit. First, that the patent is valid. And second, that you are owed damages as a result of the infringement.
Note: A prime example of suing and counter-suing for patent infringement was the famous Apple vs. Samsung lawsuit.
Perhaps you had a unique idea, but then someone you worked closely with took it and beat you to filing it. If this is the case, you have a couple of options:
- Let them fail. This might seem counterintuitive, but not all ideas are gems. If someone is floundering with a patent and product, you can use their failure as a springboard to something even better. You’ll save yourself time, hassle, and gain valuable insight in the process. Sometimes you’ll have to choose between “being right” and “doing what’s right for you”.
- File a lawsuit. If your stolen invention is really thriving, and you have been seriously hurt by the theft, then it might make sense to sue. However, you will need to successfully prove the theft (and damages) in court.
Regardless of the situation, lawsuits involving fraud and infringement are complex beasts. It’s best to consult an attorney up front in order to determine what your rights are, and how strong your case is.