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What are Patent Infringement Damages?

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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 18 November 2016
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Patent infringement damages refer to the remedies mandated by the court in the event a person wins a patent infringement lawsuit. When someone owns a patent, he or she owns the rights to a given invention or the idea of a given invention. If another individual interferes with the patent owner's property right, patent infringement damages may be assessed by the court.

Patent infringement damages are most often monetary damages. When a patent is granted, the purpose is to protect the individual or corporation who came up with the idea, whether the idea was a design for software or a formula for a drug. As a result, the patent granted the person who owns it the exclusive right to make, sell, distribute or profit from it. If another person unlawfully profits from the creation or distribution of a patented item, that person may be divested of those profits.

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Determining the appropriate amount of monetary damages awarded in a patent litigation case can be difficult, since it may be difficult for the patent holder to prove how much he would have made off the patent but for the interference of the individual who illegally benefited. The court will not award monetary damages for speculative profits. In other words, if person A believes he would have made $100,000 US Dollars (USD) on the patent if person B had not interfered, person A has to somehow prove that he actually would have made that amount — the court will not just take his word that he would have made that money.

Most often, therefore, the patent infringement damages are equal to the amount that person B actually made off the product. For example, if person A created a design for a piece of software and patented it, and then person B came along and made that same product in violation of the patent, the court will look at how much person B made from the sale of the product that violated the patent. If person B made $100,000 USD then the monetary damages will likely be equal to $100,000 USD.

Patent infringement damages are not limited to monetary damages, however. In some cases, the court will also issue an injunction. An injunction is a civil order to cease and desist. For example, the patent holder can ask the court to command that the violator stop making the product. The court will issue the injunction mandating that the violator stop production, and if he does not, he can be held in contempt of court and arrested.

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