Q: If a company is using a patent I am named as an inventor, can I receive compensation for its use?
A large company is using my patent in their highly successful product without any request for my approval or agreement to compensate myself or the other inventors. Would it be possible to ask for retro active payments for the previous life of said product, or sue them for patent infringement?
Were you employed by this large company when you made the invention? Did you sign paperwork to assign the rights to the invention over to the large company or to some other company which may have passed rights or licensed the large company?
Inventorship and ownership are different things. This is just like the fact that the contractor that built your home does not own your home--you do.
If you think that the large company is using an invention that you still own as there has not been an assignment, then you need to contact a litigator that works with patent cases.
A: If I understand you correctly, this is not a company that employed you or engaged you as a contractor, but instead a company that in its business, implemented a method that's covered by your patent or implemented a device (or system) that uses what's covered by your patent. There may be infringement in that case, but be careful and definitely talk with your legal counsel first. Remember that for direct infringement, everything used in at least one of your patent claims must be used by the infringing method/device in order to establish infringement. Also, be careful about reaching out to a company and making an accusation of infringement, because you may be creating a sufficient threat such that the company could sue you defensively, in what is called a declaratory judgment action. Again, definitely reach out to your lawyer first. (As always, this is not legal advice.)
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