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patent infringement?

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Hello -

 

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!

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Anyhow, my question is this: do I have a case for infringement under the Doctrine of Equivalents? 

 

There is no way to give you a good answer to that without reading what your patent covers and comparing the details of the two devices. If you want to protect your product and your patent you really need to have a patent attorney look at it. Find a way to raise some money to at least pay for an initial review of the matter. If you're going to be in business selling your inventions, you need to be able to pay costs like an attorney for advice and representation to protect your interests. 

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do I have a case for infringement under the Doctrine of Equivalents?

 

How could we possibly know?  We've never read your patent and know nothing about the other product other than that you've said it looks a lot like yours and operates in the same way.  If you want an evaluation of a possible patent infringement claim, you can't get that on an Internet message board.  You need to consult with a patent attorney.

 

 

 

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?

 

Since you had the ability to post on this message board, I have to assume you also have the ability to send letters to whomever you want.

 

 

 

I don't currently have the money to hire an attorney to do this for me.

 

How do you know?  How many attorneys have you called?  Did you discuss the possibility of a contingent fee arrangement?

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As the previous posters mentioned, with the given facts, you do need to do some more research to find out if you have a claim for infringement. Not sure what kind of patent you have, but I assume it's a utility patent filed in the US with the USPTO, and not the EPO.

 

I have had clients who have sought to sell a part of their patent portfolios only to find out that during the investor due diligence, someone was making a claim against the patent and/or infringing on it, and therefore the sale transaction was not completed. Something to think about.

 

Seek legal counsel, preferably in California to address this issue.

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It will be complicated to instantly file a case to the company which you are referring to be using similar product to yours. There are many factors affecting the validity of your claim. You need a deeper research on that or you could as a licensed patent attorney for an advice.

 

Here are some tips to know if there is ground for patent infringement.

 

1. Make sure your IP is valid

2. Gather or establish evidences that the alleged infringer had access to your copyrighted work.

3. Determine whether or not the infringement meets a copyright exception.

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