Look carefully at the lid to your coffee cup or the handle of your disposable razor. A recent ruling on an obscure, century-old statute has opened the door for people familiar with the finer points of patent law to sue companies that stamp their products with expired patent numbers.
A couple of sharp-eyed lawyers are shooting for a financial windfall through the nearly forgotten law, and the Justice Department says they have a case.
The ruling in federal court in Alexandria appears to be the first of its kind upholding the constitutionality of a law allowing anyone to sue in the name of the government if they have evidence that a company is guilty of “false markings” — namely, claiming patent protections that have expired or never existed.
The person who sues gets to keep half of any money awarded, with the rest going to the government. Damages of up to $500 per violation are allowed, which for mass-produced items with “Patent” stamped on every product could theoretically run into billions of dollars.
Despite the financial incentive to sue, lawyers in the Virginia case say no one other than businesses with a financial stake availed themselves of the law.
Continue Reading: “Legal Quirk Lets Anyone Sue Over Patents”
Photo by premierpatents.com.
Home Inventions Legal Quirk Lets Anyone Sue Over Patents
Comments are closed.