Patent Litigation Alert: Recent Developments and Potential Changes in the Litigation of False Marking Claims Under 35 U.S.C. § 292

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A number of notable developments in Patent False Marking law over the last month indicate that courts and legislators continue to focus on clarifying the reach of the law. Suits brought under U.S.C. Section 292, the False Marking Statute, provide penalties against any person that marks an “unpatented article” with any word or number indicating that the article is patented with the intent to deceive the public. This provision permits enforcement via qui tam actions, whereby any person, not merely one who has been harmed, may sue on the behalf of the government and claim half of the award.

False marking suits became more attractive after the Federal Circuit’s December 2009 decision in Forest Group Inc. v. Bon Tool Co., 590 F.3d 1295 (Fed. Cir. 2009), which held that penalties in false marking actions must be imposed on a per article basis. The statute provides that such penalties amount to “not more than $500 for every such offense,” so the new rule had the potential to lead to hefty fines for mass-produced articles. It has been estimated that over 800 false marking cases have been filed since December 2009.

Please see full alert below for more information.

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