How to resolve Patent disputes
30 June 2014 by Michael Downing
Infringing a patent means manufacturing, using, selling or importing a patented product or process without the patent owner’s permission. The owner of a patent can take legal action against you and claim damages if you infringe their patent. Patents are territorial, and infringement is only possible in a country where a patent is in force. For example, if a patent is in force in the UK, then anyone in the UK is prohibited from making, using, selling or importing the patented item, while people in other countries may be free to make the patented item in their country. h2. How to avoid a patent dispute? If you have a new product or process, it is important to check at the Patent Office if what you want to do would infringe a particular patent. If it would infringe, you may be able to agree terms with the owner, or even buy the patent from them. There are various ways of searching for patents that may be relevant, depending on the structure of the business sector in question. h2. What if someone sues you for infringing? There are two basic types of defence if someone claims you are infringing their design; you are not infringing – what you are doing does not infringe their patent, or the patentis invalid. If the patent is invalid you can take legal action to challenge it. If you win, their patent may be ”revoked”. The loser usually has to pay the legal costs of both sides, so think carefully before starting legal action. h2. How to avoid legal action In many cases, it is better for both parties to negotiate a solution before taking legal action in the courts. If you resort to litigation, it will take up a great deal of your time, involve a lot of stress and cost you quite a lot of money. Mediation is also particularly appropriate for disputes. It is more flexible than litigation because it opens the door to a wider range of solutions. It allows opposing parties to talk about their dispute and hopefully come to an agreement without the need for a court hearing. The mediator’s job is not to reach a decision on the dispute but to help the parties work out possible solutions to it. For expert advice on resolving patent disputes you can contact a legal adviser, trade mark or "patent attorney":http://www.downing-ip.com/patents.php for advice on the best way forward. There are intellectual property companies like Downing IP who can advise you on whether or not your course of action is worth pursuing. For confidential advice regarding your patent dispute you can contact a member of the Downing IP team on 01494 422626 or fill in our "online contact form":http://www.downing-ip.com/contact.php. Downing IP are Intellectual Property experts and can also help you with your "Trade Mark application":http://www.downing-ip.com/trade_marks.php or "Design Protection":http://www.downing-ip.com/design_protection.php process whether you need Registered Design Protection or Design Rights Protection.