Is patent enforcement possible for small companies?
Whatever people may have heard about patent enforcement, one thing is clear. Almost everyone knows that patent infringement lawsuits are expensive. A lot can be at stake. If patent infringement litigation is so costly, what options are available to startups and small businesses? Let’s explore realistic enforcement options for small and midsize companies who do not have millions of dollars to spend litigating.
Need a cost-effective patent enforcement strategy? Call Vic at (949) 223-9623 or email email@example.com to explore how we can help you block competitors from using your patents while staying within your budget.
How can small businesses afford patent litigation?
Litigation funding may be an option for enforcing certain patents with a high probability of success and a very large potential recovery. How large? Generally, litigation funders prefer at least 8-figure sums.
Though they might be an option, patent contingency litigation firms are few and far between. In addition to rock solid merits, patent contingency litigators want to see either large recoveries or more defendants, the latter raising the prospect of earlier settlements.
What are alternatives to a patent lawsuit?
Litigation is by no means the only route to enforcing patents. More recently, additional options have opened up ways for patent owners to stop infringement without litigation. Depending upon the platform where infringing goods are being sold, you might be able to take advantage of enforcement mechanisms outside of the law court system. Let’s look at some non-litigation patent enforcement options.
Ecommerce Patent Enforcement: How Amazon Handles Patent Infringement Disputes
Amazon has its own system for adjudicating utility patent disputes. Whether or not you like it, you have to acknowledge that Amazon’s own patent court, if you will, enables small businesses to enforce their patents without spending millions.
Non-litigation Patent Enforcement: Infringement Cease-and-Desist Letters
Before firing off that patent cease-and-desist letter, consider some important ramifications.
First, the recipient may file a lawsuit for declaratory judgment forcing you to litigate on their home turf. This risk is higher when the recipient company has greater financial resources.
Second, your letter may start the clock for counting laches, a fancy legal term for delay. Even worse, the accused infringer might even argue acquiescence or estoppel, namely, that your lack of action after sending the letter signaled that you were OK with them continuing their infringement.
Patent Enforcement by Acquisition: Sell Your Patent to a Larger Company
Sometimes, it takes a big ally to fight a bully. Certain outfits may consider buying your patent so that they can then enforce it against infringers. If you are selling products covered by your patent, you might entertain a royalty-free license back so that you can continue selling your patented products.
Patent Enforcement by Licensing: Partner With a Larger Company
Besides patent acquisition, patent licensing may be a viable option. An exclusive licensee of a patent would have standing to sue others for infringement. Nonexclusive licensees do not have such standing, so keep that in mind when negotiating your patent license.
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