Patent ownership dispute is a common issue in the world of business. A patent is a legal document that gives inventors the right to make and sell their invention for up to 20 years. Governments issue patents, usually in exchange for an inventor disclosing what’s been invented (the “patent application”).
Who owns what?
If someone files a patent application for something very similar or identical to your invention, you may have reason to believe they’ve stolen your intellectual property. Patents are usually granted to the first inventor who files for them. How can you make sure the right person gets credit and obtains the legal rights over this product?
Patents are not always straightforward. There are situations when two ideas might be similar even though they have been executed differently. So, there are times when judges must decide if a patent was filed too soon or whether someone else came up with an identical idea independently of the initial filing.
If you think another patent covers your invention, you’ll have to show proof of what was invented first. You must also provide evidence showing why it is different from the other invention for both patents not to be applicable.
If there’s a dispute over which person came up with an idea independently, courts may have to get involved. This can be a very costly and time-consuming process. So, you must have the necessary evidence before filing any claim.
If there is no patent covering your idea, then others may use your idea without seeking your permission. However, if someone else has executed your idea or created a product similar or identical to what you’ve created, then that would be objectionable. It will cut into your profits and likely confuse your clients. There’s no way around it: you’re going to need the intervention of the courts.
You should be aware that the courts are typically reluctant to interfere in patent disputes. They would much rather parties come up with their solution. So, you will have to show them why a judge must intervene and stop the infringer from using your intellectual property.
If your application merits, the judge will issue a preliminary injunction against the party infringing on your rights. If this injunction isn’t obeyed, then you may be able to pursue contempt of court charges against the other party. At the end of the trial, you would be seeking to have the infringer permanently barred from using your patent and possibly pay for damages.