There is nothing more frustrating during the patenting process than patent infringement. When an individual or a group infringes upon your patent, your profits may be reduced. To recoup some of these profits, you may have to enter a costly, lengthy legal battle. Doing so may be worth it, as the benefits can significantly outweigh the costs.
According to the United States Patent and Trademark Office:
"Patent infringement is the act of making, using, selling, or offering to sell a patented invention, or importing into the United States a product covered by a claim of a patent without the permission of the patent owner. Further, you may be considered to infringe a patent if you import items into the United States that are made by a patented method, unless the item is materially changed by subsequent processes or becomes a trivial and nonessential component of another product. A person ‘infringes’ a patent by practicing each element of a patent claim with respect to one of these acts. Further, actively encouraging others to infringe patents, or supplying or importing components of a patented invention, and related acts can also give rise to liability in certain cases."
A few years ago, Centocor, a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson, claimed patent infringement against Humira. Humira was a rheumatoid arthritis drug developed by Abbott Laboratories. The infringement case was centered on an arthritis treatment developed by Centocor. Centocor was awarded $1.67 billion as a result. Although this was one of the largest patent infringement settlements of all time, it demonstrates that it may be worth your time to take your infringement case to court if you feel it is legitimate.
Many companies enter multiple patent infringement cases, so if you are only dealing with one infringement case, you should consider yourself fortunate. However, if you are finding that multiple companies are committing patent infringement against you, winning one case may set a precedent and bode well for winning future cases.
You should consider the following factors when trying to determine if you have a legitimate case for patent infringement. These are factors that judges consider when rendering their rulings for punitive damages in patent infringement cases.