More than 11,000 companies were accused at least once of infringing another’s patent over the past decade, according to PatentFreedom.com. Fortunately, there is a wealth of publicly-available information online that can help you avoid adding to that number yourself. Applications and granted patents can be searched and downloaded, and individual companies or technologies monitored for new filings, in order to establish your freedom to operate.
Unfortunately, that information isn’t all in one place. There is no single centralised patent database, and you need to establish freedom to operate in each individual market you intend to enter, so carrying out the necessary due diligence can be expensive and time-consuming. Cutting corners isn’t a viable option – not when you consider the potential cost of having to fight a legal action, withdraw a product from a market, halt expansion plans, or prepare for dramatically reduced investment.
Find out more about how we can help you avoid infringement here.
First things first – seek advice. Immediately. A concerted, strategic approach to patent enforcement is essential. The complex and potentially expensive nature of legal action means you need to understand and protect your company from the inevitably risk it involves.
Your instinct may be to sue. But is this in your company’s interest? What can you expect if you win? What if you lose? Can your company support a protracted legal dispute? And if so, for how long?
Suing isn’t the only option. Mediation and arbitration offer effective alternatives to court. Striking a deal could see license fees or royalties added to your company’s revenue streams.
No matter what action you take, you’re going to need evidence – so start collecting and act promptly. If they are selling your product, buy it; if they are using your process, how can you prove it? And avoid a knee-jerk reaction to infringement. Sending that “cease and desist” letter as a shot across the bow could prove costly as those unjustly threatened are protected by law. So don’t do it – instead let us handle your negotiations.
Actively policing your patents is vital to realising a return on their investment. However you go about it, be sure to talk to us first.
Find out how we can help you enforce your patent protection here.