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What constitutes patent infringement?

Once have your issued patent, you must be diligent in enforcing it. Other individuals or companies may infringe upon your patent. According to U.S. patent law, no one can make, use or sell a patented invention without proper authority. But what exactly constitutes infringement? How do you enforce your patent?

Patent enforcement can seem confusing, and you probably have several questions. Keep reading for a quick guide to enforcing your patent. 

Examine your patent claims

The first step is determining whether someone is violating your patent. You should take a look at the claims in your patent that describe the scope of your invention. If the claims match up with the elements of the potential infringing invention, it is a clear infringement.

However, someone may still infringe on your patent even if it is not "literal infringement." According to the doctrine of equivalents, if the invention performs the same function in the same way to get the same result, it can still be an infringement. 

Enforcing your patent

If you find that someone is infringing on your patented invention, you can bring a patent infringement lawsuit in court. When a lawsuit is successful, the court may either prevent the infringing party from using or selling the device in question and award you damages. The court may also order him or her to pay royalties in exchange for your permission to use the product. 

The complications

Before you undertake a lawsuit, you should know that it can be fraught with legal complications. The accused person may defend him- or herself by arguing your patent was invalid, disclosed or that the device does not actually infringe. 

If you suspect that someone else is using your patented device or process, you should consult with a patent law attorney to determine the validity of your patent and the possibility of a successful lawsuit. 

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