A patent is a type of intellectual property that grants the patent holder the right to exclude others from making, selling, importing or using their unique invention or innovation for 20 years. The United States Patent and Trademark Office issues these rights.
Patent infringement is when a person or business files a lawsuit over the unlawful use of a patent that they hold.
Types of patents
There are three types of patents. Anyone who discovers a new and useful process, machine, article of manufacture or composition of matter should apply for a utility patent. Someone who invents a new, original or ornamental design for an article of manufacture can apply for a design patent. One who invents or discovers and asexually reproduces a distinct and new variety of plant may seek a plant patent.
Types of patent infringement
There are various types of patent infringement. Direct infringement is when a company makes a product without obtaining authorization from the owner. Indirect infringement is when a company helps a third party create or sell a patented product. Willful infringement involves intentional disregard for a patent. It claims that the infringing party had knowledge of the patent and chose to disregard the law.
Doctrine of equivalents infringement involves a product that is not exactly the same as a patented item but performs the same task, in the same way, to produce the same result. A judge may favor a patent holder even if the newer product is somehow more efficient.
It is important to remember that a patent holder must take action against an infringing party within six years of the infringement.