Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law

Constitutionality of U.S. Patent Office hearings

In 2011, Congress enacted the America Invents Act to simplify the process of contesting a patent. The law allows residents in New Jersey and other states to challenge the validity of a patent through the federal government's Patent Office procedures rather than at a jury trial.

In a case pending before the United States Supreme Court, attorneys are arguing that conducting patent examinations through the U.S. Patent Office is unconstitutional because the process involves revocation of property rights without a jury trial. Patent Office cases are heard by administrative law judges, or ALJs, instead of in a traditional courtroom setting before a jury.

An important question before the Supreme Court is whether the America Invents Act violates due process as it changes the way cases have been handled for centuries. One argument in favor of its legality is that adverse rulings by ALJs can be appealed to federal court.

Anyone with questions about their intellectual property rights may benefit from consulting with an attorney who is experienced in handling intellectual property litigation. Because intellectual property tends to be valuable, the penalties for intellectual property infringement can be serious, including civil judgments and even criminal prosecution in some cases. An attorney may be able to help clients who believe that their intellectual property rights have been infringed on to collect an award of damages for the infringement.

The penalties for intellectual property violations differ based on what type of intellectual property is involved. For a patent infringement, a patent owner may recover damages for up to three times the amount of actual losses. At a minimum, a patent owner who prevails in court may receive a royalty for unauthorized use. An attorney might help clients protect their intellectual property by demonstrating how a competitor has committed infringement and how the client has been damaged as a result.

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Benjamin Appelbaum, Attorney at Law - Intellectual Property

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