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How common is patent infringement?

A phrase that is familiar among inventors, “Everything that can be invented has been invented,” is commonly attributed to a former U.S. Patent and Trademark Office commissioner near the turn of the 20th century, although some claim the quote came from a book published much later. Regardless of its origins, you and other inventors in South Dakota might think the saying is a bit silly. This certainly is an age of great technological progress, and there can be no predicting the inventions and innovations in the decades to come.

You may worry whether the influx of new ideas from researchers, scientists and innovators around the world can affect your own business. It may dismay you to learn that patent infringement occurs on a daily basis, whether accidental or intentional.

Competition drives the potential for infringement

How can this happen? The Tesla versus Edison days are long past, when developed societies had perhaps two or three great innovators competing furiously to introduce the next big invention, such as the light bulb, the phonograph or the motion picture camera. Today, hundreds of companies with large research and development teams around the world race to be the first to develop groundbreaking technology and introduce it to the market.

A well-known example was the rivalry between tech companies Waymo and Uber, which were recently involved in a patent infringement lawsuit over self-driving technology. As you might imagine, numerous companies could be working on autonomous driving tech at the same time. Some engineers might leave one company to work for another, taking their knowledge with them, which could further confuse an infringement issue.

Inventors have the right to defend their patents

As you may know, you are responsible to monitor potential infringements on your patents and take measures to enforce them. The competition to introduce new products is fierce, but you have the right to seek legal recourse if you believe another person or company is using your own ideas or inventions without your permission.

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