Irrespective of whether or not you have protected your innovation with a patent, you can still come into contact with Intellectual Property rights of others as soon as you enter the market. You might - unintentionally - be infringing a patent.
If you are somehow accused of a patent infringement, or suspect that that situation may arise, we recommend that you first of all find out if this is indeed the case. If you ignore a legitimate accusation and simply carry on with your commercial activities, you run the risk of being summoned to appear in court. This will generally result in a demand that the infringer immediately cease its activities as well as a claim for damages.
This is what EP&C can do for you
We start by getting hold of the facts.
The patent holder's rights
First of all we take a look at the other party's paperwork. Exactly which patent right are you infringing? Is that right still valid and in which countries? Does your innovation indeed fall under the scope of protection or have you developed an alternative that falls outside it?
Validity of the patent
If your product or process indeed falls under the patent rights held by others, we will investigate the validity of those rights. Was that patent granted with good reason? Was the patent granting body properly informed about the literature on the subject? Did the granting procedure take all of the formal requirements into account?
Sometimes it is possible to contest the validity of the patent quoted and then bring that possibility to the other party's attention in order to stop the accusation altogether.
Onto the defensive
After completing these steps it may transpire that you are indeed infringing. This does not automatically mean that you have to give up. There are alternative ways for you to reach an agreement with the other party. If parties arrive at a settlement, you could simply continue your operations, for example, by:
- getting a licence;
- swapping IP rights;
- buying the patent from the claimant;
- developing around the patent.
In short, do not allow yourself to be thrown into confusion too much by an infringement accusation. However, you must take it seriously and get help. With a proper investigation and the right kind of knowledge it is often possible to arrive at a solution.
The costs involved in investigating the infringement charge are based on the hourly fee charged by the patent attorney in question.