Book A Demo

Join our early access programme. Save $250 over 30 days. No credit card required.

Patent Infringement: Types, Cases, & Damages Explained

by Terrifio Team | August 3, 2023

Patent Infringement: Types, Cases, & Damages Explained

Welcome to our guide on patent infringement, where we will explore the definition, examples, statutes, cases, damages, and types associated with this critical area of intellectual property law. In this article, we will discuss patent infringement, outlining its implications for businesses and inventors. By examining real-life patent infringement examples, we will illustrate the diverse scenarios that can constitute infringement and shed light on the legal consequences involved. We will delve into the pertinent patent infringement statute and the laws that govern these disputes to provide a comprehensive understanding of the legal framework. Drawing insights from notable patent infringement cases, we will analyze key lessons learned from these precedents. Additionally, we will explore the assessment of patent infringement damages, considering the factors and calculation methods employed in such cases. Finally, we will differentiate between various types of patent infringement, including literal infringement, the doctrine of equivalents, and indirect infringement. By the end of this guide, you will have a thorough grasp of patent infringement and its multifaceted aspects.

What is patent infringement?

Patent infringement is the unauthorized violation of a patent holder’s exclusive rights, involving the unauthorized use, making, or sale of a patented invention.

Exploring Real-life Patent Infringement Examples

Understanding real-life patent infringement examples helps shed light on the complexities and real-world implications of this legal issue. Examining recent cases provides valuable insights into the diverse scenarios where patent infringement can occur and the consequences that follow. It is important to note that specific cases may vary depending on the industry, technology, and jurisdiction involved.

One notable example of patent infringement involved the tech giant, Apple, and its legal battle with Qualcomm. In this case, Qualcomm accused Apple of infringing on its patents related to wireless communication technologies used in iPhones. The dispute led to a series of lawsuits filed by both parties, showcasing the high-stakes nature of patent infringement litigation in the technology sector.

Another prominent example involves pharmaceutical companies and their patent-protected drugs. The case of AbbVie’s drug Humira is particularly noteworthy. AbbVie faced allegations of patent infringement when rival companies sought to introduce biosimilar versions of Humira before its patents expired. 

By examining these recent patent infringement cases, individuals and businesses can gain a deeper understanding of the potential risks, legal strategies, and implications associated with patent infringement disputes. Staying informed about such cases helps foster a proactive approach to safeguarding intellectual property rights and navigating the complexities of the patent landscape.

The Statute Governing Patent Infringement

Understanding the statute that governs patent infringement is essential for anyone involved in the field of intellectual property. In the United States, patent infringement is primarily governed by the Patent Act, specifically under Title 35 of the United States Code. This comprehensive set of laws outlines the rights and remedies available to patent holders, as well as the criteria and defenses related to patent infringement claims.

Under the Patent Act, an individual or entity commits patent infringement if they make, use, sell, or offer to sell a patented invention without the patent holder’s authorization. The statute sets forth the conditions that must be met for an invention to be considered patented, including the novelty, non-obviousness, and utility of the invention. It also provides the legal framework for patent application, examination, and issuance.

The statute further clarifies the scope of patent rights granted to inventors and the exclusive rights they hold over their inventions. It outlines the conditions under which a patent holder can seek remedies for infringement, including injunctive relief, damages, and sometimes even attorneys’ fees. Additionally, it establishes the length of patent protection, generally providing a term of 20 years from the filing date of the patent application.

To establish a claim of patent infringement, the patent holder must demonstrate that the accused party’s actions fall within the scope of the patent claims. These claims define the specific boundaries and limitations of the patented invention. The accused party may present various defenses, such as challenging the validity of the patent or asserting that their actions do not infringe upon the patented claims.

Notable Patent Infringement Cases: Lessons Learned

Examining notable patent infringement cases provides valuable insights into the legal landscape surrounding intellectual property rights and the consequences of infringement. These cases serve as important references and offer valuable lessons for inventors, businesses, and legal professionals alike. While the specific cases may vary depending on the jurisdiction and industry, we will explore some recent examples to extract key takeaways.

One significant patent infringement case involved the tech giants, Apple and Samsung. This high-profile legal battle revolved around design patents related to smartphones. The case raised questions about the scope of design patent protection and the infringement of visual elements. The outcome of this case highlighted the importance of design patent enforcement and the potential financial implications for both the infringing party and the patent holder.

Another notable case involved the pharmaceutical industry, where the patent infringement dispute between Amgen and Sanofi played out. The case centered around a biologic drug used in the treatment of cholesterol disorders. The legal battle emphasized the complexities surrounding biologic patents and the challenges in proving infringement. It also underscored the significance of conducting thorough patent searches and ensuring robust patent protection strategies in the pharmaceutical sector.

These examples demonstrate that patent infringement cases can have far-reaching consequences, including financial liabilities, reputational damage, and legal disputes that can span years. They emphasize the importance of proactive patent monitoring, proper enforcement, and seeking legal remedies when infringement occurs. Moreover, these cases highlight the need for inventors and businesses to stay informed about patent law developments and establish strong intellectual property strategies to protect their innovations.

Assessing Patent Infringement Damages: Factors and Calculation Methods

Assessing patent infringement damages is a critical aspect of patent litigation, aiming to determine the financial compensation owed to the patent holder for the unauthorized use of their invention. The calculation of damages depends on several key factors, including the extent of the infringement, the value of the patented invention, and the harm caused to the patent holder’s market position.

One important factor in assessing damages is the determination of the appropriate measure of damages. There are various methods employed to calculate patent infringement damages, including reasonable royalties, lost profits, and disgorgement of infringer’s profits. Each method entails its own considerations and requires a thorough analysis of the specific circumstances of the infringement case.

Virtual patent marking is one way to help potentially maximize the damages patent holders are entitled to collect by establishing constructive notice. Virtual patent marking involves marking patented products with “Pat.” or “Patent” followed by a  website URL (eg., rather than listing patent numbers on the product itself. The webpage, also known as a virtual patent marking list, must clearly link products with their associated patents and be kept up-to-date to maintain compliance. By providing constructive notice to the public, virtual patent marking enables the patent holder to establish a stronger position in asserting their patent rights by, in some cases, expanding the damages calculation period. This can have a significant impact on potential damages and settlement leverage in infringement cases.

When assessing damages, courts also consider the extent of the infringement and the period during which it occurred.  Typically, a patent owner  sends a letter to an accused patent infringer to provide “actual notice”, which starts a period during which damages may be assessed after a judgment of infringement.  A U.S. patent owner is entitled to damages for up to a six-year period between the date of notice and filing of the complaint.  However,  the period can be as little as a few months from the actual notice date. Virtual patent marking can be assessed as of the date that the patent and associated article first appear on the virtual patent marking list. With U.S. patent infringement damages awards approaching many tens of millions of dollars or more, the monetary value can thus be greatly influenced by the longest period established by the earliest constructive notice date.

 Additionally, factors such as the market value of the patented invention, the sales volume of the infringing products, and any loss of market share suffered by the patent holder may be taken into account.

It is important to note that determining patent infringement damages is a complex process that often requires expert analysis and testimony. Professional economists, financial experts, and intellectual property specialists are often consulted to provide insights and assist in calculating the appropriate damages in patent infringement cases.

In conclusion, assessing patent infringement damages involves considering various factors and employing calculation methods that align with the specific circumstances of the case. The determination of damages is crucial to provide fair compensation to the patent holder for the infringement of their exclusive rights. Furthermore, strategies like virtual patent marking can be employed to enhance potential damages and settlement leverage, establishing constructive notice and strengthening the patent holder’s position.

Differentiating Types of Patent Infringement: Literal, Doctrine of Equivalents, and Indirect Infringement

Understanding the different types of patent infringement is crucial in navigating the complexities of intellectual property law. Patent infringement can occur in various ways, and it is essential to differentiate between the types to establish legal claims and defenses effectively. Let’s explore three primary types of patent infringement: literal infringement, doctrine of equivalents, and indirect infringement.

Literal infringement refers to a situation where an accused product or process falls within the precise scope of at least one the patent claim. In literal infringement, the accused party directly uses, makes, sells, or offers to sell a product or process that includes all the elements described in the patent claim. This type of infringement is relatively straightforward to establish, as it requires a direct comparison between the patented claim in question  and the accused product or process.

The doctrine of equivalents broadens the scope of patent protection beyond the literal language of the claims. It allows for the consideration of elements that are not identical but have the same purposes, perform substantially the same function and bring about the same result in the accused product or process. The doctrine of equivalents recognizes that minor variations or substitutions may still infringe on a patent if they achieve a similar result using substantially the same mechanism or process.

Indirect infringement, also known as contributory infringement or induced infringement, occurs when a party contributes to or induces another party’s infringement. In indirect infringement, the accused party may not directly perform the infringing acts themselves but provides the means or actively encourages others to infringe. This type of infringement typically requires establishing that the accused party had knowledge of the patent and intended to induce or contribute to infringement.

Understanding the distinctions between these types of patent infringement is essential for both patent holders and potential infringers. Patent holders need to identify and prove the type of infringement that has occurred to assert their rights effectively. Conversely, accused parties must recognize the type of infringement they are being accused of to mount appropriate defenses and determine the potential liability they may face.

By differentiating between literal infringement, doctrine of equivalents, and indirect infringement, stakeholders in patent infringement cases can navigate the legal landscape with greater clarity and make informed decisions regarding claims, defenses, and potential settlements.

Understanding patent infringement is essential for inventors, businesses, and legal professionals involved in the world of intellectual property.  We have explored the definition, examples, statutes, cases, damages, and types of patent infringement. Patent infringement occurs when an unauthorized party violates the exclusive rights granted to a patent holder, using, making, or selling the patented invention without permission. Real-life patent infringement examples can  provide valuable insights into the diverse scenarios where infringement can occur and the legal consequences involved. The statute governing patent infringement, such as the Patent Act, establishes the rights, remedies, and conditions surrounding patent infringement claims. Notable patent infringement cases can provide important lessons about the complexities and ramifications of infringement, emphasizing the need for proactive patent monitoring and robust intellectual property strategies. Assessing patent infringement damages involves considering factors such as the extent of infringement, the value of the patented invention, and the harm caused to the patent holder’s market position.   Differentiating between types of patent infringement, including literal infringement, doctrine of equivalents, and indirect infringement, enables effective claim assertion and defense strategies. Additionally, virtual patent marking has emerged as a strategy to enhance potential damages and settlement leverage by establishing constructive notice. By gaining a comprehensive understanding of patent infringement and its various aspects, stakeholders can navigate the intricacies of intellectual property law, protect their innovations, and assert their rights with confidence.

This article should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion on any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your patent professional on any specific questions you may have.