The U.S. Patent Office is not responsible for enforcing patents. Instead, it is your right as the owner to declare that a person or business entity has infringed upon your patent. This is done in the form of making a patent assertion, which is a way to receive compensation for the violation of your patent.Also known as a sticking license, you are entitled to receive compensation for prior and future use of your patent. Taking the infringer to court and showing that your patent was violated is key to receiving this type of judgment.Proving Your CaseAs the owner pursuing a lawsuit, you must prove that the alleged violator did in fact violate your patent and continues to do so.
Typically, reverse engineering the product of the alleged violator will help to prove your case. Basically, their product is taken apart and rebuilt to show that your original design was used to build what is essentially a replica.An expert such as a scientist or engineer must perform this procedure to ensure believability in court.Despite the possibility of being in a David versus Goliath situation, pursuing this lawsuit can pay off. Through overwhelming odds against a corporation with unlimited resources, you could receive a huge settlement.
Clearing the hurdle in asserting patent infringement can lead to a settlement ranging from a few thousand dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars or more.Landmines to AvoidThe allure of becoming financially wealthy after an aggressive and successful lawsuit should not cloud your vision of possible downsides to pursuing legal action against an infringer. Be very cautious in how you pursue your case. If not handled properly, you could face:
- Losing an offensive position
- Running out of money
- Feeling like your life is ruined if the other side wins
Typical Settlements with a Patent InfringerOn the other hand, winning can lead to one of several common settlements. Being able to reach a licensing agreement with the patent infringer means the settlement covers prior use and future use, which includes royalty payments.You may receive payment from the patent licensee on a quarterly or annual basis. The amount you receive is based on unit sales of your service or product. A patent licensee must make these payments until your patent expires. Some companies, however, prefer to make a single payment.The amount of your settlement in this scenario is based on estimated sales of your product or service.
Your lump sum payment represents what would have been paid out over the remaining years that your patent is active.If multiple infringers are using your patent – such as competing companies that manufacturer similar products – you can file claims against each company. Therefore, your win also turns into multiple settlements against each violator.