Patent Maintenance and Enforcement

Once a patent has issued on your invention, you will be able to preclude anybody else from using it in the designated countries for the term of the patent. However, you need to maintain the patent by filing annual fees in each country where the patent has been granted. In addition, you must enforce the patent, as there is no governmental body that will do that for you.

During the life of your patent, nobody can make, offer for sale, put on the market or use a product which is the subject-matter of the patent, or import such a product for those purposes. If the patent covers a process, no other person can use the process in Ireland, offer the process for use in Ireland, or offer for sale, put on the market, use or import a product created by the process.

Once you have identified an infringement of your patent, there are several courses of action available. The first step is often to notify the person or company violating your patent rights and request that they stop immediately. If you wish, you may also attempt to negotiate a license deal with the infringer. If these actions aren’t successful, you may be forced to file an infringement suit and ask the court to issue an injunction and an order to destroy infringing products, as well award damages for lost profits. In addition, you can make an application to the Irish Revenue Commissioners to take customs related actions with respect to infringing goods.

The most common defenses to a patent infringement claim are that (i) there has been no infringement (because the patent claims do not cover the activity of the third party), and (ii) the patent is invalid (because, for example, there was previously undisclosed prior art). As with the patent application process, patent litigation is often drawn out, complex and expensive. However, in order to protect the considerable value of a patent, it is often considered a necessary if unpleasant process.

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