USPTO Launches On-Line Litigation ToolKit
Posted on Oct 14, 2014 in Blog
Last month, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) hosted a webinar discussing its Patent Litigation Online Toolkit, which is located at http://www.uspto.gov/patents/litigation/index.jsp. The toolkit was introduced earlier this year to answer frequently asked questions and provide information about patent lawsuits. The purpose of the toolkit is to help consumers understand the risks and benefits of litigation or settlement so they can pick the best course of action. The tool kit features several web pages containing very basic answers to commonly asked questions about demand letters and patent infringement complaints, such as:
- How does a patent infringement lawsuit begin?
- What are my options for responding to the suit?
- How can I tell whether or not I’m infringing?
- How do I find a lawyer?
- What is patent infringement?
- What will happen if someone sues me for patent infringement?
- Has anyone been sued over the patent?
- How do I find out more information about the patent and who is behind the demand?
The toolkit also provides access to free resources and tools that may be of assistance to accused infringers including a patent attorney database, and features information about law school clinics that have programs to advise and/or represent small inventors and entrepreneurs.
A particularly helpful feature of the toolkit is an icon “I GOT A LETTER…” which provides links to several third-party websites that allow a threatened company to search to see if others have received the same demand letter and to determine if others have been sued by the same patent owner or on the same patent. Contacting either the companies or law firms that are currently fighting against the same patents and same patent owner can be very valuable when deciding how to respond to a demand letter.
According to Michelle Lee, Deputy Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Deputy Director of the USPTO, the toolkit is designed to “empower and inform” Main Street retailers and consumers. “By presenting the information in as straightforward a manner as possible the USPTO sees this toolkit as a first-stop for people learning about their rights and trying to understand the various courses of action available under their circumstances,” Lee said, noting that nothing in the toolkit constitutes legal advice or should be considered a replacement for legal advice.