A patent is a property right granted for an invention. Such a property right offers the holder of the patent a great deal of protection. Patent infringement law refers to a body of legislation that outlines and protects the rights of patent holders. This body of legislation also outlines the limitations of a patent and can be used by accused individuals to formulate a defense.
When a person invents something, she can obtain a patent, which will recognize her as the owner of that idea. In the United States (US), a patent is obtained from the US Patent and Trademark Office. When the patent is granted, a person is given “the right to exclude others from making, using, offering for sale, or selling” the idea that is now protected.
Although the rights of a patent holder may seem clear, there are many disputes that arise regarding violations of the protection offered to inventors. These issues can be complex enough to necessitate the commissioning of a patent attorney. One such issue is a situation where a patent has been granted and another individual wishes to obtain a patent or sell a product that is very similar. Disputes also arise when an inventor is an employee at the time when he creates a product and the company wishes to obtain the patent.
A person can be deemed an infringer for indirect actions. According to patent law as outlined in United States Code (USC), it is unlawful to induce others to infringe upon a patent. Furthermore, it is unlawful to import or sell any parts in the US which may be used by a third party for the infringement of a patent.
Patent infringement law also outlines the limitations of a patent. In many instances, these parts of the law may be used for defense when someone is accused of patent violations. For example, patent infringement law limits the life a patent to 20 years. Boundaries are another limitation specifically outlined by patent infringement law. A patent that is granted by the US Patent and Trademark Office is only valid in the US and in its territories and possessions.
When patent infringement occurs, however, it is a federal offense. This means that cases regarding patent infringement law are heard in federal courts. When it is found that a person has violated the law, common remedies include the payment of damages to the victim and orders to discontinue the violating acts.