You have patents on all your most important goods. You've been selling them for years, and the patents you have protect your products from being copied by others. Despite that, you've recently seen a few companies put out similar items. One of your old employees works at one of those companies now, so you have an idea about how they got the information they have now on how to recreate your product.
Patent infringement is a serious allegation to make. Patent infringement happens when someone takes and sells, uses or makes a patented item without permission from the patent holder. The person who holds the patent can choose to sue the person who has violated his or her patent for the unauthorized use.
There is no Statute of Limitations to bring a lawsuit for patent infringement, as long as infringement happened during the lifetime of the patent. However, there is a limitation on the damages period. Patent holders have a six-year look back from the filing of a complaint to recover damages for infringement. Thus the delay in filing can be costly to the patent owner.
There are some defenses to a patent infringement lawsuit that both sides should be aware of. For instance, if the person who allegedly violated the patent can show that the patent didn't meet the requirements of nonobviousness and novelty, then they could walk out of the court while winning their case. Your attorney can help you understand if your patent will hold up, and if so, how you can file a claim.
Source: FindLaw, "Patent Infringement and Litigation," accessed Sep. 15, 2017