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question.jpgIn Patents

What happens if I infringe someone’s patent?

Generally, if you are infringing someone’s patent, the patent owner will either contact you informally to resolve the situation or he’ll file a lawsuit against you. If you are sued by the patent owner, he will typically seek an injunction and/or financial damages. If this happens, you should review the patent in question, particularly the patent’s claims, to make your own determination as to whether you think you might be infringing the patent. It would be a good idea to consult a patent attorney to help in this process. 

If it looks like the patent may be infringed, you have several options. First, you can stop making and selling the infringing product. This may be all the patent owner was interested in - getting the infringement to stop. However, if the patent owner wants damages, this may not resolve the conflict. Second, you can talk to the patent owner and attempt to negotiate a license to essentially buy legal permission to continue making and selling the product. Third, you can carefully review the patent’s claims to see if there is a way you can change your product so that one or more elements of the claims are missing, which would mean your product no longer infringes the patent (although you might still be liable for your infringement up to the point you made this change). Finally, in defense to an infringement lawsuit, you can attempt to have the patent invalidated by arguing that it does not meet one of the basic requirements necessary for a patent to be granted in the first place.