Infringement of Patents

The objective of having a patent is to stop other companies benefiting from the inventions. When a company does try to benefit, by making and selling a chemical product or operating a process for commercial gain, which is covered by another person's patent, then they are guilty of infringement.

Infringement can only occur in the country or countries where a patent exists. This emphasises the importance of the advice given by both R&D and Marketing to the patent agent on the breadth of the filing to be pursued. An R&D Manager should set out to gain a wide knowledge of the countries where the main competitors operate, both in terms of manufacturing and sales, so that the advice can be given with confidence. It is commercial nonsense to suggest the filing of a patent application, in a country where the costs would be hardly covered by the profit from the sales income on a single or range of products.

Once an infringement has been found it is important that the company's patent and legal representatives quickly follow this up, a failure to do so could be interpreted as approval.

The converse of this situation also applies. The company should have a system in place, usually assigned to R&D, which thoroughly checks its own proposed new products and processes, to ensure that it will not infringe somebody else's intellectual property once they are commercialised. If there are conflicting patent rights then a licence to operate will need to be sought from the inventors.

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Project Management Made Easy

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