Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jun 27, 2012

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Someone who knowingly infringes on your patent may be liable for treble (or three times) the monetary damages normally offered.

Intentional Infringement: Treble Damages

While damages may be limited when the infringement was unintentional, intentional patent infringement is serious business. Patent holders may be entitled to what are known as treble damages. Damage amounts in these cases can be substantial. Here are two recent examples:

  • $1.6 Billion. In June of 2009, a jury found that Abbott Laboratories intentionally infringed upon a Johnson & Johnson patent regarding its TNF Alpha Blocker drug, Remicade. It is thought to be the largest patent infringement verdict in U.S. History.
  • $388 Million. In April of 2009, a jury found that Microsoft willfully infringed upon someone’s patent regarding a software registration system.

Granted, not all of us are corporate mega-giants, but it shows that intentional patent infringement is taken very seriously and can have grave – and expensive – consequences.

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Unintentional Infringement

If a person unknowingly violated a patent, a court may still find that infringement took place, and the person may still be liable for damages. This will depend on the details of the material infringed upon and an investigation into whether the violator had knowledge that they were infringing upon another person’s patented works.