Patent infringement occurs if another party makes or uses a patented product or process without the patent holder's permission. Below are some common forms of patent infringement.
Direct infringement occurs if someone duplicates your product without your permission. Direct infringement applies whether or not the infringer knew about your product. In this case, the defendant is the party who duplicated your product.
Say you have a new type of facemask that prevents respiratory infections without restricting breathing. If someone manufactures a similar mask without your permission, you can accuse them of direct infringement even if they don't know about your mask.
Indirect or Induced Infringement
Induced or indirect infringement arises if one party causes another party to infringe on your product without your permission. In this case, the defendant is the party who caused the infringer to copy your product and not the infringer.
Consider a case where a multinational manufacturing company offers your facemask plans to a small manufacturer. If the small manufacturer duplicates your facemask, you can accuse the multinational company of indirect or induced infringement.
In this case, the defendant is a party who supplies another party with parts used to produce your patented product. Contributory infringement only applies if the supplied part has no other use other than your product's production.
Consider a business-to-business (B2B) part supplier who provides a manufacturing company with the same filters in your facemasks. You can claim contributory infringement against the B2B supplier if no other product other than your facemasks can use the filter.
Someone doesn't have to copy every aspect of your product to be guilty of patent infringement. In some cases, you may succeed by showing that the product does the same thing or produces the same results as your product. The details vary by product.
However, you can file a special type of infringement — literal infringement — if someone exactly copies your product. In this case, you can only succeed if all the elements of your product are present in the duplicate product.
In other forms of patent infringement, you don't have to prove that the infringer knew what they were doing. You may succeed with an infringement claim even if the infringer did not know about your product.
For willful infringement, however, you must prove that the infringer knew about your product and its patent but still went ahead to copy it. You can use things like past communications or warning with the infringer to prove your claim.
Like other legal claims, you must prove your claim in court to prevail. A patent attorney can evaluate the infringement and advise you on the claim to file. Contact a patent lawyer to learn more.