Legal Help with IP Infringement for Plaintiffs and Defendants
Preeminent trial lawyer fights to protect your rights in the marketplace
Unauthorized use of intellectual property destroys its value to the rights holder. Worse yet, unchecked infringement can result in the total loss of enforceable rights. That’s why it’s extremely important for your company, or for you as a creator and owner, to enforce your IP rights as soon as you are aware of infringing activity. On the other hand, an adjudication ruling that your company has infringed another’s IP can damage your image, expose you to crushing liability, and restrict your commercial activity. Whether you are alleging or defending an infringement action, attorney Paul Van Slyke can protect your rights and interests in federal court, before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, and on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. For more than 30 years, Mr. Van Slyke has litigated complex, high-value IP cases. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to every case he undertakes.
Remedies available for intellectual property infringement
The remedies available to a plaintiff alleging infringement depend on the type of intellectual property in question, the level of protection the IP enjoys, and the provable harm the infringement has done. In general, there are two broad categories of remedies:
- Injunctive relief — One type of remedy involves filing a court order that the infringing activity must stop. This can include an order to destroy the infringing products, which can be quite costly to the infringing party. Injunctive relief does nothing to compensate the IP rights owner for losses, but it does put an end to unauthorized use.
- Damages — A second type of remedy involves filing a court order to compensate the IP rights owner for losses incurred as a result of the infringement. At common law, a complaining party can only claim damages it can prove, based on evidence such as its loss of market share during the time the defendant was infringing or the defendant’s profits due to infringing activity. However, registered IP enjoys statutory protection, which allows a court to apply standards in the law to estimate reasonable damages even when the plaintiff cannot prove monetary losses.
- Negotiated license agreement — It is often possible for the IP owner and the alleged infringer to come to a mutually beneficial settlement, whereby the defendant can use the plaintiff’s IP in exchange for royalty payments.
To understand the level of protection your IP has, and the remedies available for an infringement, it’s important to consult a knowledgeable IP lawyer.
Viable defenses to IP infringement allegations
Although many IP violations are blatant and criminal, disputes do arise between parties acting in good faith where there is an honest question about protected rights. Parties accused of IP infringement can assert a number of legitimate defenses:
- The IP is not worthy of protection — Defendants and other interested parties can challenge the issue of a patent, asking the USPTO to review the patent. Such petitions are based on evidence the IP is not patentable or, although it is directed toward a patentable creation, the creation is not novel, not useful, is obvious, or is based on knowledge already disclosed to the public. A trademark can be too weak to deserve protection, either because it’s merely descriptive or is generic.
- The IP was once protected, but now is not — Certain types of IP have sunset provisions. Copyright is protected for the creator’s life plus 70 years, and patents for up to 20 years, before the rights enter the public domain. Trademarks can last forever, but not if the company abandons them or the public no longer associates the mark with the company’s product.
- An infringement did not occur — It’s always possible a plaintiff is crying foul when there was no violation. For example, copyrighted material can be used without permission under certain “fair use” exceptions, or two musicians can compose a substantially similar melody without ever being aware of the other’s song, just as two scientists can make a simultaneous discovery. Likewise, trademarks or products can be somewhat similar without the similarities presenting an actionable infringement.
When the case is complex, and the outcome is vital to your company, choose an attorney with a strong track record in intellectual property litigation.
Contact a reputable trial lawyer in Houston to handle your IP litigation
Attorney Paul Van Slyke represents corporate and individual clients as plaintiffs and defendants in intellectual property infringement actions. Mr. Van Slyke has litigated infringement cases across the country in state and federal courts, at trial and on appeal. To schedule a consultation, call the firm at 855-552-8238 - Toll Free Number or contact the firm online. We have offices conveniently located in Houston and Austin, Texas.