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Patent infringement litigation refers to a lawsuit in which two parties are disputing the rights vested by a patent. A patent protects the intellectual property rights in inventions and ideas. When patent infringement litigation occurs, it generally centers around whether one person took another person’s idea improperly and, if so, what damages were caused by this infringement.
Most countries provide forms of protection for intellectual property. Patents are one such form of protection in the United States, along with copyrights and trademarks. Patents protect ideas for tangible and functional inventions; copyrights protect the intellectual property rights of authors in works of art that serve no function other than as artistic works; and finally, trademarks protect marks that identify brands, such as Apple Inc.’s apple with a bite taken out of it.
When a person invents a product, he can patent that product. While patents exist in all industries, they are especially common in the drug industry and the technology industry. For example, when a scientist invents a new drug, the formula for that drug is patented. Likewise, when a technology firm invents a new means of transmitting data across a mobile phone, the firm will patent the product.
If someone else then comes along and takes that idea — using the formula for the drug or the means of transmitting data — then patent infringement litigation can result. The person who believes that his rights to his patented invention are being violated will initiate the litigation. The individual that initiates the patent litigation will then need to prove that the other party’s idea is substantially the same as the patented idea.
Patent infringement litigation does not require the defendant in the case to have stolen the idea. If, for example, Company A patents a formula and company B independently comes up with that same formula, Company B still cannot use the formula because company A has already patented it and owns the rights to it. Therefore, Company A would only have to prove that Company B’s formula was essentially the same as the patented formula to bring a successful patent infringement litigation suit.
During a patent infringement litigation case, each side will present its evidence. The plaintiff who sued will present evidence to show that the defendant is violating the patent. The defendant will present evidence to show that he is not violating it because his invention is unique and different and not covered by the patent.
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