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By Richard Gearhart
Founding Partner

Navigating the complexities of international patent infringement litigation can be a daunting task, as it involves a blend of complex legal principles, diverse judicial systems, and cross-border enforcement challenges. When a patent is infringed upon beyond your home country’s borders, the process of addressing and resolving these disputes becomes significantly more complicated. This blog aims to shed light on the essential steps, key international treaties, and strategic considerations involved in international patent infringement litigation, providing a clearer path for those facing such disputes.

Understanding Patent Infringement

Patent infringement on an international level involves the unauthorized use, sale, or production of a patented invention in a country where that patent is legally protected. Each nation has its own set of rules defining what constitutes infringement, making it important to grasp both the specific laws of the countries involved and the general principles of international patent law. For instance, simply selling a product in one country that infringes on a patent held in another can lead to significant legal challenges. Actions ranging from manufacturing to marketing can infringe on patents, with consequences varying widely across jurisdictions. Understanding these nuances is key to effectively managing and defending patent rights on the global stage.

The Role of International Treaties and Agreements

International treaties and agreements play a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of patent infringement litigation across borders. The Paris Convention and the Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) are cornerstone agreements that facilitate patent protection in multiple countries through a single application process. These treaties establish a framework for recognizing and enforcing patent rights internationally, offering a semblance of uniformity in a field marked by national diversity. By adhering to these agreements, inventors can seek protection in numerous countries, streamlining the process of defending against infringement globally. Understanding these treaties is essential for leveraging international patent systems to their fullest potential, ensuring inventors and companies can protect their innovations worldwide.

Steps in International Patent Infringement Litigation

  • Initial Assessment and Consultation: The first step involves evaluating the infringement claim’s validity, including the scope of the patent and the alleged infringing activities. This assessment helps determine the feasibility and strategy for litigation.
  • Gathering Evidence and Building a Case: Collecting detailed evidence is crucial, including documentation of the infringement, expert opinions, and analysis of the patent’s validity. 
  • Filing the Lawsuit in Appropriate Jurisdictions: Deciding where to file the lawsuit is strategic, often influenced by the location of the infringing activities and the patent protection in place. The choice of jurisdiction can significantly impact the case’s outcome.
  • Preliminary Injunctions and Pre-trial Motions: Seeking a preliminary injunction can prevent further infringement during the trial. This phase may also involve pre-trial motions to narrow the issues and set the trial’s parameters.
  • Trial and Presentation of Evidence: The trial involves presenting the compiled evidence and arguments to a judge or jury and persuading the court of the infringement and the need for relief.
  • Remedies and Enforcement: If successful, the court may award damages or order injunctive relief to prevent future infringement. Enforcing these remedies, especially across borders, can present additional challenges.
  • Appeal Process: Both parties have the opportunity to appeal the decision, adding another layer of complexity and potential duration to the litigation process.

Jurisdiction and Enforcement Challenges

Jurisdiction refers to a court’s authority to hear a case, which becomes complex when disputes cross international borders. Identifying the most strategic jurisdiction requires an understanding of where the infringement has occurred and the legal protections available in those territories. Post-trial, enforcing a judgment in a foreign country can be equally daunting, as it often requires facing more legal procedures to have the judgment recognized and executed. These steps underscore the importance of a well-thought-out strategy that anticipates potential obstacles in jurisdiction and enforcement when dealing with international patent disputes.

Contact an Experienced Patent Infringement Attorney

At Gearhart Law, we bring a wealth of experience and a global network of resources to protect your patent rights worldwide. Our dedicated team is ready to tackle the complexities of international patent infringement litigation on your behalf. Reach out to us today to ensure your innovations receive the global protection they deserve.

About the Author
Richard Gearhart, Esq. is the founder of Gearhart Law and the host of a weekly radio show for entrepreneurs called “Passage to Profit”. He has built a firm with an international presence that helps entrepreneurs from around the world with their patent, trademark and copyright needs. Richard commands a breadth of experience that comes from nearly 30 years of practice in the writing and prosecution of hundreds of patents, and in all aspects of Intellectual Property law. In 2022, Richard was recognized by ROI New Jersey as a 2022 ROI Influencer in the Law List category for being one of the best of the best in New Jersey for intellectual property law. Gearhart Law emerged from Richard’s passion for entrepreneurship and startups and his belief that entrepreneurship grows the economy and creates jobs. When we started Gearhart Law, our goal was to help and support the new business ventures of 500 entrepreneurs and inventors. After 12 years, the firm has far surpassed this goal; today, we look forward to helping even more inventors and entrepreneurs get off to a great start and reach their own goals.