Attorney at Law

What is Patent Misuse?

Patent misuse occurs when patent holders misuse their patent rights by expanding the scope or term of their patent. These actions, which are common for utility patents, prevent fair balance in U.S. commerce and trade. It is a popular defense in patent infringement cases as the alleged infringer generally tries to demonstrate that the patent owners are abusing their patent privileges to stifle competition. The court can deem the patent holder ineligible for patent enforcement if it finds evidence of patent misuse. Simply put, a patent owner will not be entitled to recover damages for infringement during the period of time that the patent was proven to be misused. In most cases of patent misuse, the defendant must prove that the patent owner’s actions have an “anti-competitive effect,” which can be challenging to demonstrate in court. 

Key Takeaways 

  • A patent misuse occurs when patent owners abuse their exclusive patent rights.
  • When a patent holder commits patent misuse, a court has the authority to revoke the patent's enforcement rights.
  • Patent misuse suppresses competition in the market and does not allow for proper economic competition to flourish.

Understanding Patent Misuse

According to seasoned intellectual property attorneys Timothy J. Barron and Olivia T. Luk, patent misuse is often argued to prevent patent owners from adding additional protections that may harm other companies. In other words, the doctrine of patent misuse limits patent owner rights and ensures that the scope of these rights do not damage competition of other companies in the market. 

If you are trying to accuse a company of patent misuse, two of these main facts must be proven in court:

  1. The patent was used as a mechanism to change business outcomes
  2. The anti-competitive effects of the patent were too broad and extended out of the patent’s scope.

These two principles show that the patent owner abused their rights in an improper way that caused damage and stifled competition in regards to other businesses.

The following are a few standard examples of patent misuse cited by Patent Education:

  • Requiring a patent licensee to buy additional products as part of the patent license
  • Requiring a licensee to pay revenue from sales that the patent does not cover
  • Attempting to collect royalties after the patent expires
  • Filing baseless patent infringement lawsuits

Bottom Line 

Patent owners may extend their patent protection beyond the limits of their products in order to prevent their competitors from gaining market share. However, you should always be aware that there is a fine line between utilizing and abusing your exclusive patent rights. For example, illegal tying of products and services to the patented product is a fairly common practice that the court may consider patent misuse.

If you need assistance with intellectual property or have been accused of patent infringement, Attorney At Law’s experienced patent attorneys can assess both liability issues and damages related to patent misuse.

Ask a Lawyer

Ask your own question and get advice from expert attorneys
Ask Question

Featured Intellectual Property Lawyers

The Law Offices of Scott E. Schutzman

29 years in practice
Employment Law, Intellectual Property, Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury
View Profile

The Law Offices of Jeffrey F. Ryan

37 years in practice
Business Law, Employment Law, Intellectual Property
View Profile

Siddiqui Law, APC

17 years in practice
Business Law, Employment Law, Intellectual Property
View Profile

J Nichols Law

1 years in practice
Estate Planning, Trust & Estate
View Profile

England Injury Law

5 years in practice
Auto Accidents, Bicycle Accidents, Motorcycle Accidents, Personal Injury, Truck Accidents
View Profile


Are you looking for an attorney? Do you have questions about a legal case you are facing? Contact us now and we will put you in touch with a lawyer for free.

Related Posts

Mask Works
Lia Kopin-GreenSeptember 17, 2022
Double Patenting
Lia Kopin-GreenSeptember 1, 2022
Domestic Representative
Lia Kopin-GreenAugust 30, 2022
Patent Application Number
Lia Kopin-GreenOctober 2, 2022
Attorney At Law is changing how clients connect with lawyers. By providing an innovative platform to lawyers who want to expand their practice’s reach, AAL is bringing law practices into the future.
6142 Innovation Way
Carlsbad, California 92009
Some of the content of this website may be considered attorney advertising under the rules of certain jurisdictions. The information on this website is for general information purposes only. Nothing on this site should be taken as legal advice for any individual case or situation. This information is not intended to create, and receipt or viewing does not constitute an attorney-client relationship.
crossmenuchevron-upchevron-down linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram