What is a Patent?

A UK or EP (UK) patent is infringed by doing certain acts in the UK without the patentee’s consent, these being:

  • making, disposing of, offering to dispose of, using, importing or keeping a patented product or a product obtained directly by means of a patented process;
  • using, offering for use in the UK a patented process; and
  • supplying or offering to supply in the UK a person other than a licensee with any of the means relating to an essential element of the patented invention for putting the invention into effect – in order to infringe the supplier must also know, or have reason to believe, that such means will be used to put the patented invention into effect in the UK.

In 2015 Apple was ordered to pay more than $500 million to Smartflash, a Tyler, Texas-based company accusing Apple of wilfully using its patented inventions in iTunes software without paying proper licensing fees.

A federal jury has decided to award $532.9 million to the obscure company, which claims that Apple infringed three of its seven patents involving digital rights management, data storage, and managing access to payment systems. The company asked for damages amounting to $852 million, but Apple said the technology was worth only $4.5 million at most.

However, Apple is adamant that Smartflash’s allegations are invalid because it has never used those patents. Indeed, Apple is not the only major technology company Smartflash has set its sights on, as it also has similar lawsuits against Samsung, Google, and Amazon.

It is important to protect business identity with patents in order to avoid to prevent ideas being stolen and other businesses benefitting from one’s success. Patents are notorious for their technicalities and unique elements. Any applications for patents should be submitted to the UK Intellectual Property Office.

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