You may have had no idea that you were infringing on someone else’s patent. You may not have actually infringed on someone else’s patent.
No matter the reason, being served with a complaint for patent infringement may send you into a tailspin, looking at not just a long and expensive lawsuit, but loss of business and professional reputation.
The blow could sting all the more if you were in the process of patenting whatever it is that the other party is suing you over. It may be that the thing is so niche and specialized that you had no idea anyone had patented it, or you’re being sued for something you didn’t even think could be patented.
Help! I’m Being Sued. Why Me?
There are a few reasons why you may be sued. You may legitimately be infringing on someone’s patent. You may also be sued by someone who is earnest but mistakenly believes you infringed on their patent.
You may also be the victim of a litigation-happy patent troll who sues first and asks questions later. It’s also possible that you didn’t actually infringe on their patent, but you’re accused of it anyway.
Perhaps you sell or produce something similar, but not quite the same thing.
You’re not liable if you hadn’t actually infringed on the accuser’s patent rights. You’re also not liable if the patent is expired or invalid. You may not be liable for patent infringement if your accuser can’t prove that you knew or had reason to know about the patent.
On the other hand, you may have violated a patent owned by someone who litigates patent infringement as a means of income. Commonly referred to as “patent trolls,” these companies or people don’t actually create anything.
They acquire patents strictly to make money through licensing agreements and suing others for patent infringement. Since patent litigation is long and expensive, many defendants will settle, which is desirable to the patent troll because it comes at a lower cost than a court battle and any subsequent appeals.
What should I do?
The first thing you should do if you’re being sued for patent infringement is to contact a lawyer immediately. You’re most likely being sued in federal court, and thus, you only have a limited time to respond after being served.
Every day counts. It may be tempting to respond yourself, but if you’re not trained in the law, you may not know how to respond properly or more importantly, what your legal options are.
Also, while pro se litigants have full rights to represent themselves in court, they’re held to the same standard as lawyers, and have far less legal resources available to them and less experience in handling litigation.
Our patent attorneys can help you understand why you’re accused of patent infringement and discuss your legal options with you. A patent attorney can represent you in court, in negotiations, and above all, help you prevent or avoid being sued for patent infringement in the future. We represent businesses across the United States regarding patent infringement claims.
To contact our Austin, Texas, patent law firm, simply call (512) 746-7963.
Do you want to learn how business owners can get surprised by patent infringement?
Listen to this LQP PatentCast where Craige explains how a recent expansion of the “Single Actor Rule” exposes more businesses to patent infringement risk and 3 cost-effective steps you should consider to avoid patent litigation- even if you are just licensing a trademark or selling an unpatentable product.