The mind of an inventor never stops. They are continuously thinking of new ideas and innovative methods. When they’ve finally mastered their latest idea, they can apply for a patent. In the most basic terms, a patent is a form of protection that provides a person or legal entity with exclusive rights for making, using or selling a concept or invention. A patent also excludes others from doing the same for the duration of the patent.
If you have a concept or invention, applying for a patent is a smart business decision. However, note that you will not be alone. In the year 2014, the United States received over 615,000 patent applications. While several different types of patents exist, the rise of online commerce has brought a new type of patent: the business method patent.
The idea of the patent business models began in Japan and then started in the United States in the late 1990s. In 1998, the Federal Court ruled that the US Patent and Trademark Office could begin issuing patents for unique automated technologies that process data or generate revenue. This included business models, methods and processes. Specifically, business model patents allowed e-commerce features such a subscription-based access, targeted advertising networks, portal sites, online auctions and forums to be patented.
Business patents, which are valid for 17 years, allow companies to take their methods, which many companies believe are their intellectual property, and have them protected under law. In order to obtain this type of patent, your business method must produce a useful, concrete and tangible result. The most appealing part of obtaining a business patent is preventing other individuals and companies from using business methods without the permission of the patent holder.
It’s important to understand business patents so you can legally protect your business method. If you are an individual or business owner with a patent and you feel your patent has been infringed, you should contact a professional to discuss patent litigation.
What is Patent Litigation?
When a patent owner believes their patent has been infringed, they can begin the process of patent infringement litigation. For example, if you own a patent for a particular method you use in your business practice and another individual claims ownership of that business method, you can consider filing an infringement lawsuit.
Patent litigation is a lengthy process and it can have several outcomes. It’s important to understand the possible outcomes of patent litigation prior to diving into a lawsuit.
Injunctive relief is a temporary solution to infringement cases. In the most basic terms, an injunction orders that the individual or business using your patented business method stop using the patented method. This stops the illegal use of your patent but it does not provide compensation to you as the owner of the patent. It does put legal and financial pressure on the individual or business using the infringed patent to stop. Injunctive reliefs can be both temporary or permanent.
An exclusion order is similar to a permanent injunction in that it stops the patent infringer from using the patented method. This is an option if the patent infringer is a foreign entity. If they are, as the patent holder, you can take the claim to the International Trade Commission, which can issue an exclusion order. Again, this type of solution does not offer any financial compensation if you own the patent.
Regardless of if you obtain injunction or an exclusion order, as the owner of the patent, you are entitled to recover monetary damages from the infringer. You may be eligible to receive lost profits as well as royalties.
Often times in patent litigation, you can feel pressured to submit and end the case. It’s important to work with a skilled professional when managing the litigation. A skilled professional may help you avoid a trial and negotiate a settlement. A settlement can include licensing arrangements, retroactive payments, and royalties. The majority of patent litigation cases are negotiated and settled.
The final option for patent litigation is mediation. Mediation is where both parties agree on an impartial mediator to facilitate a settlement. The mediator meets with each party privately, gathers information and discusses each person’s side of the case. The process of mediation often includes each party making initial offers and the mediator closing the gap.
When it comes to patent litigation, a mediator can be a great option. With this option, trial and appeals can often be avoided and a settlement can occur.
Why work with a business attorney for patent litigation?
As we previously mentioned, patent litigation can be a lengthy process with a number of outcomes. By working with a business attorney, you have someone on your side who understands the process. A business attorney will learn all the details of your patent and work with you to develop a patent litigation strategy.
Here’s what one of clients recently said about their experience working with a business attorney:
“We are pleased to recommend Mr. Lenden F. Webb and his associates to anyone looking for legal guidance and advice. We recently sought Mr. Webb’s firm for a civil case and his honesty, professionalism and guidance was instrumental throughout our process. He explicated every issue that came up with detail and gave us a clear picture of what the scope of sequence would be. His associates kept us very well informed, we truly appreciate their efficiency and warm welcome from the day we first stepped into their office. [His staff] displayed extreme care with our case, she ensured that we be informed every detail, update or news pertaining the advancement of our case.
Our overall experience has been very positive, this firm has a great business ethic and high respect for their clients. Should we require further legal advisement or representation, without a doubt we would contact Mr. Webb and associates again!!”
If you think you might have a patent litigation case, contact us today to find out what legal options are available to you and best for your business.
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