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How can I find out whether someone is infringing my patent?

The scope and the protectability of an issued patent can be quite complex, involving an analysis of the patent's claims, the prior art in the field of the patent, and the history of the patent's prosecution in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. 


The experienced patent attorneys at Chernoff Vilhauer are adept at conducting this analysis that is essential before the patent is asserted against any third party.

What can I do if someone infringes my patent?

It is important to consult with an experienced patent lawyer even before a cease and desist letter is sent to the infringer, or valuable rights could be lost.  It is also important not to delay action against infringers, because such a delay may create legal defenses and seriously weaken the remedies available to the patent owner.

An early trip to a lawyer may allow you to negotiate a halt to the infringement, but it may be necessary to file a lawsuit to enforce your patent rights.

How do I determine whether I might be infringing someone else's patent?

One key advantage of using an intellectual property law firm is that its attorneys are experienced in researching that possibility, including a comparison of the client's product to what is disclosed in the relevant patent. 


This analysis can protect you from a potentially costly patent infringement lawsuit.

What is the lifespan of a patent?

A patent typically is in force for 20 years from the date its application is filed, after which others may freely use the invention disclosed in the patent. 


The Patent and Trademark Office requires maintenance fees to be paid at certain times to keep a patent in force.

How does someone obtain a patent?

The progression towards getting a patent usually proceeds in the following way:

·         Development - The creator of the intellectual property should keep it confidential and require that those who must be privy to the creation sign nondisclosure agreements.

·         Disclosure - The inventor provides a complete disclosure about the invention, probably to a patent attorney, so that its patentability can be measured.


·         Patentability search - Typically taking two to six weeks, this search determines whether prior art exists that would render the invention unpatentable or would otherwise affect its patentability.


·         Patent application - If the patentability search is favorable, and the client decides to proceed with securing patent protection, a patent application is drafted by the patent attorney and submitted to the inventor for final approval.


·         Filing date - The date the patent application is officially received by the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO).  This is the date from which the term of the patent is measured. The PTO assigns a serial number to the patent application.  The patent is then said to be "pending."


·         Office Action - The PTO examines the application and typically responds six to 24 months from filing.  The patent claims may be objected to, rejected, or allowed, and are detailed in writing in Office Actions, which also set deadlines for a response. The patent attorney may respond in writing by amending the claims and/or submitting legal arguments as to why the claims should be allowed.  If the claims are finally rejected, this decision may be appealed to an Appeals Board and, if necessary, to the federal courts. 


·         The patent is issued - Upon payment of the issue and publication fees, the patent will be granted.  At that point, the patent holder can assert the patent against infringers or license the use of the patent to others until the patent expires.

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The information contained on this webpage is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice.  To discuss a legal issue or obtain legal advice please contact an attorney in our office.

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