HOLD ON, before you launch a new product, website or logo- do your research! Many inventors think of a great idea, pay a lot of money for a prototype and then find out that something similar already exists or even worse they get sued for infringement. Accidental infringement happens all the time and it’s easily avoidable if you take the correct steps.
Run a quick search using public databases such as the United State Patent and TradeMark Office. This will allow you to decide whether it’s worth the investment to pursue a patent or not. If you end up discovering that your ideas or invention is in the process or has become patented it wouldn’t make much sense in undergoing the application process for a patent because it will cost you money and time with a heavy loss at the end. If you see patents that have similarities to your own but different, you may still be able to patent your idea, that’s why it’s important to consult with an IP attorney.
What constitutes as Patent Infringement?
A diesel truck and a gasoline truck are similar but not the same. Both may have the same design but the way both function is different. One solely functions with the use of diesel fuel and the other gasoline fuel. This does not constitute as patent infringement. While both may have the same design, both run differently. The patent is not for the design of the truck but on how both vehicles run.
What does constitute as patent infringement is what occurred with Apple and Samsung. Apple sued Samsung for having used their patent design of their phones for their own. The court had Samsung pay Apple for the damage done. Other infringement incidents include copying logo’s, website designs, quotes, etc. Business owners need to be aware of their designs, products and assets before bringing any to market and definitely before spending money trying to protect them.
Accidental infringement happens all the time, and depending on the company/person pursuing, can take legal action.