Enforcing Patent Rights
Patent infringement attorneys have several options for proving liability for patent infringement. These options generally can be divided into the categories of “direct” and “indirect” patent infringement.
Direct Patent Infringement
For patent owners, each claim in a patent is a potential cause of action for patent infringement. Direct infringement is a strict liability cause of action, which means that there is no requirement that the patent infringement attorney proves that the infringer had a certain mental state when the infringement was committed. Direct infringement may occur either literally, meaning that a claim of the patent when compared to the infringing product or process is an exact match. Alternatively, infringement may be found under the doctrine of equivalents, which means that the accused device or process is interchangeable with, but not identical to, the patented invention.
Indirect Patent Infringement
Contrary to direct infringement, which does not require proof that the infringer intended to infringe, the patent infringement attorney must establish at least some knowledge and intent regarding the patent and infringement to establish indirect infringement. Accordingly, the patent litigator can establish contributory infringement, which is a form of indirect infringement, by proving that the infringer sold, offered for sale or imported a component that is a material part of a patented invention, and that the infringer knew that the component was specially made or adapted for use int he infringing product. Further, a claim for inducement of infringement, another form of indirect infringement, may be established when the patent holder proves that the infringer actually induced another to directly infringe the patent owner’s patent.