If you’ve read our guide to registering a patent, or our introductory guide to intellectual property, you’ll know that the grant of a patent right gives inventors full creative rights to, and control over, their inventions.
While you may have a patent to protect your invention, sometimes it’s not enough to stop someone from trying to use your idea. So, what can be done to enforce your patent protection?
Our guide here focuses on that scenario, highlighting your options for preventing further infringement from occurring, and perhaps even for obtaining compensation from the infringer, if the infringement has caused harm to your business.
How can patent ownership be proven?
If your patent is already registered, then proving your ownership and the exclusive rights over the usage of that invention can be straightforward: there will be a digital, publicly viewable record of your registration online to which you can point anyone who needs to know – or whom you want to remind.
You will also have received an official patent certificate at the time of registration. It’s a good idea to keep these in a safe place.
You’ll also need to double check that your patent registration is still valid.
It’s important to inform the IPO if you change your name, address or email address, and you must renew your patent on the 4th anniversary of its filing date and then each year after that if you wish to keep it.
It can be trickier, where the infringement takes place somewhere else, beyond the boundaries of any national registered protection you have in place. This is a challenge faced by many brands who have registered their patents in their home country, only to later discover that unscrupulous copycats have essential free-ridden on all their efforts and success and misappropriated their marks for use in another country.
In this scenario, we recommend speaking to a lawyer. There are certainly options that you can consider, but they may differ significantly from one type of business and jurisdiction to the next, and it’s highly advisable to get an expert steer on what’s going to be best for you.
Gather your evidence
For the infringement to be recognised, someone would need to have either made, disposed of, sold, supplied or imported your patent-protected item.
The clearer the evidence of the infringement the better. As far as you can, you should gather evidence of how the infringement has caused your business damage, such as a loss of sales or a negative impact on your brand’s reputation.
What are the options for patent enforcement?
Once you have your proof of ownership and infringement, you can correspond with the infringer to try and get the infringement rapidly and amicably brought to a close.
Initially, you may choose to send this communication directly.
You can then send a more demanding follow-on version of this communication, threatening legal action unless the infringement is ceased.
Finally, there’s a letter that you can also send yourself, threatening legal action unless the infringement is ceased (called a cease and desist letter).
And if the infringer still doesn’t respond to your satisfaction to these communications, Farillio’s expert legal partners can send a lawyer’s letter to the infringer on your behalf, emphasising that legal enforcement steps will be or have now been taken and requesting co-operation before matters go any further. It’s worth getting advice on your prospects of success from a legal expert at this stage, especially if the infringer is proving tricky to find, is unresponsive and/or is based outside the UK.
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