Readers may be aware that there is a specific period of time during which a patent cannot be used by another party without risking an infringement action. Once that period of time passes (usually 20 years) a patent can be used by anyone, without having to pay royalties.
In an effort to make the most of old patents, recently patent owners have been filing lawsuits in which compensation for alleged infringement is sought. While it is possible that these speculative claims may be filed after the patent has expired, in other situations, the expiration may be just around the corner. If enough of the cases against the infringing parties are successful, this could result in a nice profit.
Sometimes it is not the original holder of the patent bringing the action. Instead, the party could have been sold patents that fit into this group. Here again the patent holder could take legal action against those infringing patents, possibly making a nice little profit. Not all of these claims are successful. In making a case the specific circumstances surrounding the patent and its alleged infringement will be focused upon.
This type of activity could slow down. This is because of changes that went into place Dec. 1 that necessitate more details in the complaints filed by those who own the patent.
Parties on either side of the equation should have a knowledgeable lawyer on their side, working to resolve the matter. These matters are usually fact specific and require the assistance of someone who has handled similar cases in the past.