Patent litigation usually involves the unauthorized or illegal use of a patented invention or idea.  Patents provide an inventor with legal protection and exclusive rights over their invention.  Thus, if a non-patent holder seeks to use or distribute patented inventions without the owner’s consent, it may lead to patent litigation. 

Patents cover many different aspects of invention, including the design and utility of the patent.  Most patent litigation claims generally result in a monetary damages award for the plaintiff’s losses.   

When is Patent Litigation Necessary?

Patent litigation can become necessary in a wide range of situations.  In many cases, the parties may attempt to resolve a dispute through negotiations or some form of alternative dispute resolution.  If this does not remedy the situation, it may be necessary to file a lawsuit over the patent issue.  Patent litigation can be needed in situations involving:

  • Disputes over the usage of patented invention
  • Disputes involving unauthorized distribution or sale of patented products
  • Various types of patent infringement claims
  • Safety issues with patented material (especially design defects)
  • Issues with the expiration of a patent

Thus, patent litigation can cover a wide range of different legal issues and conflicts, especially infringement issues.  Most patent lawsuits are filed in a civil court of law; occasionally, patent claims may also involve some criminal law theories. 

How Long do Patents Last?

Patents are generally valid for 20 years after the date that the application is filed.  For patents filed prior to June 8, 1995, the patent expires either 17 years from the date of the application being granted, or 20 years from the date of filing.

Such dates and deadlines are important to note during the process of patent litigation. For instance, if a person is claiming that their patent rights are being violated by another party, their claim likely won’t stand if it is discovered that their patent is actually expired.

Do I Need a Lawyer for Assistance With Patent Litigation?

Patent litigation can involve some complex legal issues.  You may need to hire an intellectual property lawyer in your area if you need to file a patent litigation claim.  Your attorney can provide you with the legal advice and representation necessary for succeeding on your claim.  Also, you lawyer can keep you informed of your patent rights under the laws in your area.