How To Help Your Business Avoid Patent Lawsuits
If your business is involved in developing new products, then you should be very careful with the issue of patent lawsuits. A patent lawsuit can cripple your business, especially if it drags on and on or involves an expensive product. Here are a few tips to avoid such lawsuits.
Investigate At the Idea Stage
Many people face patent infringement lawsuits either because they failed to investigate the existing patents or they did so late in the development of their products. The problem with a late investigation is that even if you do find something, you will have invested so much in the development of your product that you may be tempted to press on against all odds.
Ideally, you should start researching competing products or existing patents at the idea stage. Involve an experienced patent lawyer in the process so that they can scrutinize patents and patents applications both in the U.S. and internationally. This way if a patent is found that may trigger an infringement lawsuit, you may be able to change course or abandon the idea without losing your investment.
Research the Scope and Validity of a Competing Patent
Just because the investigations have unearthed troublesome information, it doesn't mean that you should automatically abandon your idea. You need to investigate the scope and validity of the competitor before making a major decision. With regards to the scope of the competitor's patent, you should be able to prove that the product you are designing is only broadly similar to your competitors and that it doesn't infringe on the patent. In fact, the investigation may even give you the opportunity to alter your designs and work around the existing patent, so to speak. Alternatively, you can research legal grounds for invalidating the existing patent. Both courses may allow you to continue with your product development without fear of recrimination.
Negotiate a License
Patent owners routinely allow others, including their competitors, to manufacture or use their products under license. What happens is that you pay a small fee to the patent holder and you are free to use their product without legal challenges from them. If you find yourself developing a product that is patented by another party, consider approaching them for a patent license and you might just save yourself from a costly patent infringement lawsuit.
The above tips should help you avoid patent lawsuits. However, all isn't lost if you are already facing such a claim; consult a business lawyer like those at Lingbeck Law Office to help you navigate the rough waters of a patent lawsuit.