Q: Are USB C Hub Devices with 4 to 8 ports patented?

I intend to sell usb c hub devices on amazon. I see bunch of sellers there but i was wondering if there are any patents that could pose legal issues if i decide to sell this type of products:

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=4+ports+usb+c+hub&rh=i%3Aaps%2Ck%3A4+ports+usb+c+hub

2 Lawyer Answers
William Head
William Head
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Products Liability Lawyer
  • Atlanta, GA

A: If you have violated another person's intellectual property rights, by making the devices that you are selling, yes you can be in violation of criminal laws, and subject to very harsh financial penalties (under civil aspects of patent violation or copyright laws) and possible jail time.

Take the time to talk to an intellectual property attorney, on how to go about selling your products, so you won't have to be looking over your shoulder.

Peter D. Mlynek
Peter D. Mlynek
Answered
  • Patents Lawyer
  • Moorestown, NJ
  • Licensed in New Jersey

A: Although we commonly clump trademarks, copyrights, patents, trade secrets, geographic indicators, etc. into a single area of law labeled “intellectual property”, there are major differences between these areas of laws. One of those is enforcement of rights by criminal statutes. While violations of copyrights and trademarks may in limited circumstances be enforced under criminal statutes (see, 17 USC §506, 18 USC §§2318-2320, 18 USC §§1831-1839) there are no criminal penalties for committing patent infringement (see Dowling v US, 473 US 207, 227). Therefore, nobody is going to come to arrest you for infringing patents, and you won’t do jail time.

Electronic devices are among the most heavily patented products. Every TV, computer, cell phone, and like, are covered by hundreds if not thousands of patents. However, USB specifications are written to let USB become widely accepted, hence limiting the potential to patent. I do not know if the USB C hub that you are considering selling would be covered under any patent or not.

You may consider hiring an attorney. Not just any intellectual property attorney, but a patent attorney who specializes in the electrical field.

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