A patent registration issued by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office confers upon the patent holder the right to exclude others from making‚ using or selling the invention or its equivalent throughout the United States and its territories and possessions. In the event of an infringement‚ the patent owner’s rights are defined in the claims of the granted patent. The test varies by country‚ but in general the infringing party’s product‚ service‚ or business method must fall within one or more of the claims of the patent. If all of the claim’s elements are found in the invention‚ the claim then “reads” on the invention and it is patent infringement. If a single element from the claim is missing‚ the claim does not read on the invention and it does not infringe the patent as to that claim.
Where only insignificant differences exist between the elements of the claim and the infringing product‚ the Doctrine of Equivalents may be utilized to find that an infringement does exist. The purpose of the doctrine is to deter infringers who may attempt to make insubstantial changes to avoid the literal language of the claims.
When a patent infringement does exist‚ the first step in handling the infringement is usually a cease and desist letter from the damaged party to the infringer. In some cases the infringer’s agreement to cease production or sale may be sufficient to resolve the matter‚ while at other times the damaged party will demand a monetary payment. If the infringer refuses to either cease the infringement or compensate the patent holder‚ patent litigation may become necessary. You may see more information about litigation on our intellectual property litigation page.
If you are involved in a patent infringement or patent litigation matter‚ we highly recommend that you seek the advice of a patent lawyer at your earliest opportunity. We have offices in San Diego‚ Orange County and Los Angeles. If you are interested in having our law firm assist you with a patent infringement issue‚ please contact us.