Patent infringement is the unauthorized manufacture, use, sale, or importation of a patented invention.
How Do I Know if Someone Infringed on My Patent?
Whether or not someone infringed on your patent will depend on the scope of the claims of your patent. The claims define your invention, and therefore define the scope of protection your invention receives. In order to infringe on your patent, an invention must infringe on every claim made in your patent. To determine if a new invention infringes on your patent, you must go through two steps:
- You must determine the scope and meaning of the claims in your patent
- Then you must determine if the new invention infringes on those claims
How Do I Determine the Scope of My Patent's Claims?
The meaning and scope of the claims will depend primarily upon the language of the claims. In determining the meaning and scope of your claims, consider the following:
- Claims should have the same meaning for infringement as they had for validity.
- Unless you state otherwise, the language in the claims should be given its ordinary meaning.
- A single word will have only one meaning. The same word in two different claims will have the same meaning in each claim. You cannot try to change the meaning of the words in a claim to widen the scope of your patent.
- Claims should be construed as broadly as possible.
So when you are trying to determine the scope of your claims, you need to look at what the claims actually describe, not what you want them to describe.
Does the New Invention Have to Be Identical to My Invention to Infringe on My Patent?
While it might seem that a new invention would have to be a duplicate of yours to infringe, it is often sufficient for the new invention to just be substantially similar to yours. An invention can infringe two ways:
- Literally - The claims of your patent directly describe the infringing invention
- Doctrine of Equivalents - The infringing invention does not literally fall under your claims, but it performs the same function in order to achieve the same result, and every element of every claim of your invention has some corresponding equivalent in the infringing invention
What Remedies are Available to Me If Someone Infringes on My Patent?
If you win a lawsuit against an infringer, you may be entitled to a number of remedies including:
- An injunction
- Court costs and attorney's fees
Do I Need to Consult a Patent Attorney?
Determining infringement is very technical and complex. An experienced intellectual property attorney will be able to let you know if your rights have been infringed upon and can represent you in court.