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Can you choose not to enforce your patent?

Nov 4, 2020 | Patent Law

Patents provide critical legal protections for owners. As such, securing a patent for novel works is crucial. However, it is only one element of protecting your product. You must also enforce your rights to ensure other parties do not use it without your permission.

However, there are circumstances under which patent owners do not enforce patents. Whether this is a conscious decision or a failure to act, not enforcing patents can have a range of consequences.

Why owners do not enforce patents

To keep your patent rights intact, owners must take action against parties who infringe on these rights. That said, enforcement is not necessarily an easy task.

First, businesses must monitor their patents. No one agency or group polices potential patent infringement occurrences; owners are responsible for the research and monitoring. Because of this, owners can miss cases of infringement.

Additionally, patent holders may not have the money or resources to enforce their patent.

There are also unique situations in which parties may choose not to take action against patent infringers. One example of this is the biotechnology company Moderna, holder of multiple patents related to a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. The company announced that it would not enforce these patents in an effort to allow other companies to develop necessary vaccines of their own.

However, the Moderna situation of electing not to enforce patents is not as common as patent owners failing to enforce their rights.

Repercussions of patent non-enforcement

If you do not enforce your rights against parties infringing on your patent, you put your protected work in danger. The primary consequence of not enforcing your patent is losing your exclusive rights. This loss can be detrimental to a patent owner’s:

  • Standing in the marketplace
  • Financial resources
  • Ability to license patented work
  • Offerings for new investors

How to enforce your patent

If you hold a patent or plan to apply for a patent, you should know what enforcement entails.

You should properly secure your patent and then prepare to dedicate resources to monitoring for cases of infringement. You would also be wise to have legal representation to draft cease-and-desist letters or take a complaint to trial.

Holding a patent can be incredibly valuable for your business; enforcing it can be just as critical.

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