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Protecting Your Intellectual Property -- Patent Infringement

Posted on in Intellectual Property

Many inventors in California apply for and receive patents leading them to believe that their property is protected. However, simply having a patent does not guarantee that someone else will not infringe upon it. Fortunately, federal intellectual property laws allow for the award of both monetary and non-monetary damages through civil litigation in a federal court.

Patent infringement occurs when a party fails to obtain permission from a patent holder before using, making or selling an item that is patented. Lawsuits for patent infringement must be filed within six years of the initial, unauthorized use. Therefore, patent holders need to remain vigilant in order to avoid being barred from filing lawsuits to protect their intellectual property.

A patent holder is required to prove a defendant's wrongdoing by a preponderance of evidence. Depending on the circumstances, this can be done in a variety of ways. The defendant may attempt to convince the court that the patent is not valid, so no infringement took place. Therefore, the first step in nearly every patent infringement case is to prove that the patent is valid.

Once the validity of the patent is established, the plaintiff is then required to establish that the defendant's use was unauthorized. If these two elements are established to the court's satisfaction, damages may be considered. A patent holder can receive a permanent injunction to force the defendant to stop his or her illegal actions and can receive a monetary restitution for any use that was not authorized.

When intellectual property suits are filed for patent infringement, plaintiffs often ask the courts for preliminary injunctions as well. This type of injunction will keep a defendant from further production of any product used, made or sold as the result of alleged unauthorized use of the patent during the course of the litigation. California patent holders could lose a substantial amount of revenue when others use their patents without permission.

Source: FindLaw, " Patent Infringement and Litigation ", Accessed on May 16, 2015

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