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How IP Plays a Crucial Role in the Innovation Process

Patent infringement and patent invalidation are terms that are often misunderstood. In this post we will try to understand these terms. Patent infringement takes place when a product having same features as disclosed in a granted patent document is sold in the market without the permission of the patent owner.

What constitutes Patent Infringement?
Suppose ABC company has been granted a patent for its new product having a,b,c features. Now another company XYZ starts selling a product with the same set of features covered in ABC’s patent document. This act of selling the product by XYZ Company would constitute patent infringement of the granted patent belonging to company ABC.

What is not termed as Patent infringement?
Suppose a company ABC holds a patent P1 for a product with a,b,c features and a company XYZ makes or files a patent application P2 for an equivalent product having same features as a,b,c then this act of filing patent P2 does not constitute Patent infringement. This is termed as filling an invalid patent unknowingly. The patent application filed as P2 can be revoked or invalidated at any point of time in future by company ABC.

Patent validity search or Patent invalidation A "validity search" can be done by an assignee after a patent is granted to ensure the validity of the granted patent. On the other hand patent invalidity searches tend to focus on the language of the claim rather than the overall concept and idea of the invention.

  • This can be done by an entity infringing, or potentially infringing, the patent or
  • It can also be done by a patent owner or any other entity that has a financial stake in a patent to confirm the validity of a patent, for e.g. Patent licensee

Let's take the example of company ABC, suppose it has been granted a patent for its product with features a,b,c. Meanwhile XYZ, another company starts selling its product with the identical features as a,b,c. After some time XYZ comes to know that unknowingly they have infringed the granted patent of ABC Company. In this situation XYZ can try to have a validity search for the granted patent of ABC. While searching if a prior art is found having the same feature set of a,b,c, (the patent of company ABC) then in that case XYZ company can get the granted patent of ABC invalidated through filing application for revoking the patent.

A second scenario in which patent validity search is conducted Suppose ABC is a company that has been granted a patent for a product. Company C1, C2 and C3 find it useful and decide to take a license of the technology disclosed in the granted Patent. Thing to remember here- before taking a license C1, C2 and C3 should get done a validity check of the granted patent otherwise they could run the risk of unnecessary investing in an invalid patent and incur losses afterwards.

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