If you own intellectual property, it is best practices to act like the owner by appropriately marking your IPR assets. Intellectual property markings like the copyright symbol “©” and federal trademark registration symbol “®” serve important functions. They provide notice to the public of the owner’s claim of rights and they enhance those rights. For patented goods and services, it recently became easier to comply with the marking standards found in the U.S. Patent Act.
Patent marking is perhaps the most important “marking” in the IPR regime; whether it is done and done properly can have significant consequences. Not only does it warn potential copiers that the product is patented – and patents are very powerful rights – but the fact of patent markings on the patented goods (or services) entitles the patent owner to pursue damages against infringers for past infringement. Marking one’s goods provides constructive notice to the world of the patent owners’ rights and allows the patent owner to pursue damages against an infringer. If the patent owner does not mark products with the patent, the patent owner can only pursue damages for the periods after which the owner can show the infringer had actual notice of the asserted patent.
Typically, notice is given by marking the product with the word “patent” or “pat.” followed by the applicable patent number. The America Invents Act adds an easier way by allowing the patent owner to simply replace the patent number with a website address to a page that contains the patent numbers relevant to the product, for example “patent www.coatsandbennett.com.” Under the new law, the public and potential infringers will be presumed to have constructive notice that a product is patented, so long as the website is available to the public free of charge and also associates each patented article with the patent number(s) which cover the product. Make certain to regularly update the web page, being particularly careful to promptly remove “notice” of expired patents and to include newly issued patents.