Against a big company it might begin at $5M and for blockbuster patents can be a "bet the company" proposition with hundreds of millions or billions on the line and unlimited litigation budgets. 95%+ settle well before conclusion of the trial, as one the evidence is in it is often clear who has the upper hand.
What if the Government Infringes?
The Government technically cannot "infringe" as the law exempts the Government and instead make the Government responsible to pay just compensation of at least a reasonable royalty for unauthorized use of a patented invention. Patent suits against the Government are tried in the US Court of Federal Claims and there are only a handful of litigators that handles such cases due to the highly specialized nature of such cases and the perceived bias in favor of the Government in a Government court.
What if a Company Infringes?
There are several possible remedies: an injunction stopping production of the infringing item by the company, payment of the patentee's lost profit (on the theory of putting the patentee in the position it would have been in if there had been no infringement), payment of the infringer's profits (disgorgement of ill-gotten gains), a reasonable royalty, attorneys fees, costs, and in appropriate cases of willful infringement, punitive damages (treble damages)
Where Are The Suits Filed?
Suit against a company or person is filed in a US District Court where the infringement occurs, where the Plaintiff is located or where the Defendant is located. Suit cannot be filed in State Court since patents are issued by the Federal Government pursuant to Federal law by a Federal agency and the law thus gives exclusive original jurisdiction to the US Dist. Courts. Appeals go to a specialized patent court, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, DC and from there by writ of certiorari to the US Supreme Court which takes only a few of those appealed to it. Juries are the norm in patent infringement cases. Judges decide the law, such as whether the patent is valid and what is the proper scope of the claims. Juries decide the facts, such as whether the claims are infringed.There are certain US District Courts that are known a "pro-patent" such as the Eastern District of TX and Norther District of VA.
What Type of Lawyer Handles Patent Infringement Litigation
This is a specialty. Patent Litigators are typically among the very best litigators in the world as the amounts in controversy are often huge and the entire future of the company may often be at stake. Generally the patent litigator has to know both patent procedure, patent law, court procedure, and be good as explaining in simple terms complex technical issues. Many patent litigators are experienced registered patent lawyers who formerly prosecuted patent applications to obtain issued patents or are former patent examiners that know the inner workings of the Patent Office. Their hourly rates are among the highest of all attorneys.
How Long Does a Patent Case Take
From 2-13 years is typical to get to judgment. However, over 95% settle before judgment, most typically after discovery of all prior art, all evidence of allegedly infringing items, and determination of the scope of the claims by the judge. Mediation is often used in these cases since the parties may need to have a continuing relationship as they are often in the same industry. Patent licenses or cross-licenses are typically used to settle these cases, and may replace actual money settlements.
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