Issues in Patent Law
As a part of intellectual property law, patents protect and grant rights to the owner of an invention, and can come in various forms. The inventor must understand exactly what they have created, as this can determine whether they file an application to receive a utility, design, or plant patent. For example, if someone invents an item that can be manufactured, and has a “new, original, and ornamental design”, they can then file for a design patent. Once the inventor’s application for a patent has been approved, the patent stands for 20 years. However, filing for and receiving an appropriate patent is more difficult than it seems. There are various issues that may arise, and this article will summarize a few.
The point of a patent is to protect the inventor from others copying, selling, or using their design without permission. There have been instances of patent infringement where, for example, an individual sells the invention and receives the sale’s profits. There is a myriad of other ways a patent can be infringed, but in all cases the patentee (inventor) has the right to bring the case to a federal court. In the best case scenario, the patentee will receive damages for what they have lost from this infringement.
On the other hand, the defendant who is being accused of infringement may argue that the patent is not valid. They may have evidence proving why the patent should not hold or that they have a previous patent to that invention, which then the court must decide on. Or, instead of questioning the validity of the patent, the defendant can argue that their actions were not actually infringing the rights of the patentee. Regardless of the arguments used, the federal courts must determine if infringement has occurred.
While the aforementioned may seem like issues that can come up once a patentee holds a patent, there are some important notes to be wary of in the beginning as well. Potential inventors must make sure that when they are filing for an application, they sufficiently search all previously awarded patents to make sure their design does not infringe any other patents so as to not have their patent application denied or to be found copying someone else.