If you feel secure because your exclusive design contains unique and patented components, you may want to think again, according to APEX Electrical Interconnection Consultants.

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patent-words-300Patent infringement litigation is on the rise. A patent owner may view its intellectual property as a strategic asset. Although it has a limited lifespan, and may be challenged or even invalidated, companies can actively use patents to their advantage. By alleging infringement, the owner of a legitimate patent attempts to “harvest” added profits in the form of damage awards, royalties, reimbursement for lost revenue, increased market share, and other types of compensation, if they are successful.

For example, the outcome of a recent patent infringement suit over smartphone technology resulted in a damage award of hundreds of millions of dollars. Verdicts in other patent infringement cases often have settlements of tens of millions of dollars. In addition, if a company is found guilty of “willfully” infringing on a patent, it may be subject to treble damage liabilities.

To a connector manufacturer, defending against such an infringement allegation can be costly, whether or not the issue escalates to a formal suit. Traditional royalty, licensing, or other fee arrangements may be worked out between companies. If an agreement cannot be reached and the issue becomes a suit, costs are likely to rise many-fold. Prosecuting a case in Federal court often necessitates the use of multiple law firms, expert witnesses, and attendant research,