You Got Your Patent, Now What?
Congratulations! You’ve received a Notice of Allowance from the United States Patent and Trademark Office, a task which you appreciate is no easy feat. Now that you are someone who can proudly say, “I have a U.S. patent,” you should know there are other requirements for you to complete in order to fully maintain and enforce your patent. This article focuses on marking patented goods with their patent number. Note that there are other post-allowance measures you should be aware of so consult with the Southern California patent attorneys at Jafari Law Group to help better protect your invention.
Why should I mark my products?
Imagine this scenario: you obtain a patent and begin selling your invention to the masses. Money is coming in and your starting to see decent returns on your investment. Years later, you find out someone has been infringing your patent since you started selling and this other person is making ten times as much as you are. You initiate a lawsuit and a federal judge determines that the other person is in fact infringing your patent. How much money you can recover for damages depends, in part, on whether the other person was on notice that the product they were selling was protected by your patent.
That’s where marking your patent comes into play. By properly marking all of your products, you put the public on notice that this product is protected by your patent and they may have to pay you a hefty sum should they infringe on your patent. Patent law makes it very clear that failing to mark your patented articles results in not being able to recover any damages from the infringing party from the time before they had notice of the infringement (i.e., when you send a cease-and-desist letter or sue them). This also applies to licensees so make sure anyone licensed to sell your products also complies with the marking rules. You can find additional resources on protecting your marks on Bold Patents.
How do I or my licensees properly mark my products?
Fortunately, Congress has seen fit to make it relatively easy to mark all of your patented product and give the public the all-important notice that the product is patented. All you need to do is affix to the product the word “Patent” or “Pat.” followed by the appropriate patent number. You can also affix the word “Patent” or “Pat.” with an address to a website associating the product with the patent number (just make sure the website is freely accessible by the public).
What if my product isn’t amenable to having writing on it?
Of course, not all patented products are made such that a patent number can be written onto it. In such a case, mark the product’s packaging instead of the product itself.
Do I have to mark my product with the patent number?
The answer to this question is simple: no, you are not required to mark your patented products. However, failure to do so means you can only recover damages from the time the infringer is put on notice. This would result in losing out on all of the profits the infringer earned prior to you notifying them that they were infringing your patent.
If you have further questions about properly marking your patents, or any other questions relating to obtaining and protecting patents, call the Orange County attorneys at Jafari Law Group; we’ll help you protect your inventions.