Let an Alabama Patent Litigation Attorney from AdamsIP Handle Your Lawsuit
Obtaining a patent is a journey, and in many instances, it is only the beginning of that journey. Once a patent application has been drafted, filed, examined, and issued, the fight to preserve those newly acquired rights continues for the life of the patent, which can be as long as twenty years or more. Unfortunately, infringement does happen and often requires legal action. When infringement does take place, your Alabama patent litigation attorney must be vigilant in enforcing those rights. AdamsIP understands that patent litigation is a business problem as well as a legal issue. We strive to understand our clients’ businesses and priorities so that we can serve their long-term goals and short-term needs.
Though patents have a presumption of validity once granted, they are routinely challenged in court or through the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) via the inter partes review (IPR) process. Our team has experience handling patent litigation in venues across the United States, as well as handling Patent Trial and Appeal Board proceedings before the USPTO.
The Patent Litigation Process
Patent litigation is largely analogous to litigation in other areas of law. It can be a lengthy, drawn-out process consisting of many phases and multiple moving parts that can often be bewildering to the uninitiated. But however complex ordinary litigation is, patent litigation can be even more complicated because it often involves advanced technological issues that most people — even judges and juries — do not understand initially. To prevail in patent litigation in Alabama, you need the experience of an Alabama patent litigation attorney who knows the law and the technology, and who is capable of explaining both to the judge and the jury.
Phase 1: Complaint and Response
A patent infringement lawsuit begins when the plaintiff files the complaint in federal district court. In the complaint, the plaintiff lays out its general allegations of infringement against the defendant, including the patents in issue, a high-level overview of the defendant’s activities, and a request for relief from the court. A copy of the complaint is served on the defendant, who may then respond to it. In the response, the defendant will either admit or deny each of the plaintiff’s allegations or make a motion to dismiss the case. The defendant may also make counterclaims against the plaintiff in its response.
Phase 2: Case Management
During the case management phase (usually a conference among the parties), the judge will establish the case schedule, the scope of discovery, and procedures for safeguarding confidential information, among other housekeeping issues.
Phase 3: Discovery
Discovery is the process by which the parties exchange relevant information about the case. This can include documents, interrogatories (i.e., written questions to answer), or depositions of key players in the matter. Patent cases also frequently require expert discovery, in which each side’s expert witnesses provide information about their proposed testimony to the other side.
Phase 4: Claim Construction
A unique aspect of patent litigation is claim construction hearings (also known as Markman hearings). During the claim construction phase, the court decides what the various terms in the patent at issue actually mean, as there is typically significant disagreement between the parties on this issue. Each party may submit its own preferred definitions. The judge will then accept the plaintiff’s definition, the defendant’s definition, or neither, and adopt a new definition.
Phase 5: Summary Judgment
At this point, either party may submit a motion for summary judgment. The purpose of these motions is to give the judge the opportunity to decide certain issues without going to trial. The judge will render summary judgment on any issue where there is “no genuine dispute as to any material fact.” In other words, if the judge finds that one party would clearly win based on the undisputed facts of the case, he or she may rule in that party’s favor.
Phase 6: Your Patent Litigation Trial
The trial phase of litigation is the one that is most familiar. During the trial, each party will present its case to the jury by making opening and closing statements, presenting evidence, and examining and cross-examining witnesses. In patent trials, this frequently requires each party to educate the judge and the jury on the specifics of the technology involved. At the conclusion of the trial, the jury will render a verdict for one party or the other.
Phase 7: Appeal(s)
The losing party at trial is entitled to file an appeal of the verdict to a higher court. On appeal, the losing party does not dispute the facts of the case that were established at trial; it argues that the judge or the jury came to an incorrect conclusion of law that was unsupported by the facts. Appeals from patent cases go to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The losing party on appeal may then appeal to the Supreme Court.
Our Alabama Patent Litigation Lawyer Answers Your Top Questions
What Is Patent Infringement?
Patent infringement occurs when a person makes, uses, sells, offers to sell, or imports into the United States any article that is covered by a patent without the patent owner’s permission. This could occur for example, where a company designs a new product and begins selling it without realizing that one or more elements of that product are already covered by a patent. Permission to use a patent typically comes in the form of a license, where the licensee pays a fee to the patent holder to use the patent.
What Types of Patent Infringement Are There?
There is more than one way to infringe a patent. Direct infringement — the simplest kind — occurs where the infringer makes, uses sells, offers to sell, or imports into the United States a patent invention without obtaining a license from the patent holder. Contributory infringement occurs where the infringer sells or offers to sell a component or part of a patented product whose only use is in that patented product. Induced infringement occurs where the inducer does not infringe the patent himself, but aids or encourages others to do so with the knowledge that their actions will constitute patent infringement. If you are concerned about a patent infringement issue, please contact an Alabama patent litigation attorney.
What Defenses to Patent Infringement Are Available?
There are several ways a party accused of patent infringement can defend itself. The two most common are arguments for non-infringement and invalidity. A non-infringement defense argues that the defendant’s actions or products do not infringe the patents being asserted against it. An invalidity defense argues that whether the defendant infringed the patent is irrelevant because the patent at issue is invalid. Defendants using invalidity defenses typically argue that the asserted patent did not meet one or more of the requirements of patentability and should never have been issued. The defendant may also be able to argue equitable estoppel — i.e., that the patent owner is barred from asserting a claim of infringement because the patent owner knew the defendant had infringed the patent in the past and never took any enforcement action previously.
No Matter Your Patent Needs, Our Alabama Patent Litigation Attorney is Here to Protect Your IP Rights
Our legal team routinely defends and enforces our clients’ intellectual property rights, from presuit license strategies through every stage of litigation. In the process, we learn our clients’ technology and industry trends so that we can anticipate problems and get up to speed quickly. Your Alabama patent litigation attorney will draw on our industry knowledge to assess clients’ litigation needs and solve problems efficiently. By focusing on practical solutions to our client’s problems and actively working to steer the litigation to best meet our clients’ needs, we build inherent value through our litigation strategies.
Our legal team is experienced in rendering freedom-to-operate and infringement opinions, performing patentability and landscape searches, and litigating patents at every level. Whether you are a large, medium, or small business, we have the expertise, experience, and tools to guide you to a successful resolution. We serve clients throughout Alabama including Mobile, Huntsville, and Birmingham.