Hoping you can provide me some direction....?
I have a patent on a traffic control device. A company in California is seriously considering the purchase of my patent rights under the device. I expect them to make a decision soon.
Regulatory approval from the FHWA is required before traffic control products can be used on any highway system; otherwise known as interim approval.
My product will need this approval and possibly additional testing before it can be added to any state's material list for approved products for sale and eventual inclusion in the MUTCD. Requirements differ from state to state as well. It's a complicated regulatory process. Long and painful.
So long story short, my product is not currently being made or sold in its target market...yet. Hoping this California company changes all that.
Recently, I came upon a product VERY similar to mine that's being made, sold and used in a certain New England state. I got a hold of the manufacturer/owner making/selling the device and he said he did not have a patent nor did he have approval from the feds for its use.
He got around the feds (and me too, apparently) by changing a few things. The accused device is being used in many college towns and neighborhoods in the state. This guy said he would continue making and selling the device until told he's not legally permitted to do so.
This product is not identical to mine but it achieves the same result, has the same function and operates in exactly the same way. And to be honest, it really looks like my product from a distance. Ironically or not, I conceived of the idea in a New England state and had the physical prototype made by a New England company. I'm not from New England and haven't been back there for a few years now.
Anyhow, my question is this: do I have a case for infringement under the Doctrine of Equivalents? And could I send this company (and the various municipalities I've discovered using the device) cease and desist or license from me type letters? I don't currently have the money to hire an attorney to do this for me.
Any help/direction you may provide me on this forum will be appreciated!