John Kendrick, Summer Fellow, Washington Legal Foundation*
Look at the bottom of your mouse; there should be several patent numbers on it. Then do a 5-minute online search to see if those patents expired before you bought it. If they did, you’ve hit the jackpot! Under the False Marketing Statute (which is a section of the larger U.S. patent law) you could sue the producer of the mouse (or any other product) and potentially get a hefty financial windfall.
The statute penalizes anyone who marks a product with a patent label if it is not actually patented or the patent has expired. The potential penalty for breaking this law is $500 per individual unit. So a suit over a single mislabeled patent could result in millions of dollars in penalties if many units of the product were made. Further, as was alluded to earlier, these lawsuits are qui tam, any individual can file. Plaintiffs do not need to have suffered any injury to have legal standing according to the statute. Continue reading “Two Judges in Same Federal District Split on “Patent Marking” Law’s Constitutionality”