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Patent infringement is a complex topic. At the highest level, an infringement occurs when a legal person makes, sales, or imports goods or services, without your permission, that violate the rights granted to you by your patents. That is known as direct infringement.
In direct infringement cases, all elements of a given claim of a patent must be present in a product or service. For example, if your patent cover a chair and has the following claim:
An apparatus comprising: a) a platform; and b) at least a leg to hold said platform above the ground.
Your patent is infringed when a legal person makes a stool, chair, or a seat that has a platform (i.e. seating area) and at least one leg, so long as the at least one leg holds the platform above the ground. Please note that the scope of at least one leg depends on the description of your invention, however courts have determined the at least one to mean one or more. By identifying all of these claim elements in a product, you could conclude that the product is infringing your patent.
Sometimes your patent can be contributory infringed. That is when in addition to direct infringers, other people sale a component that was especially made for use in the infringe product, and the component is not a commodity component that has substantial non-infringement uses.
In the example above, if one party makes the leg and another makes the platform, while knowing that two parts would be used together, you may claim contributory infringement against both parties.
As a legal inquiry, you eventually should discuss your case with a patent attorney for an opinion about whether a patent is infringed.
If you feel that your patent is infringed, please contact Zar Law, PLLC at (713) 333-5533.