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What should you do when you become aware of the existence of a third party patent that claims subject matter possibly related to your company’s product? If you take no action to timely investigate the patent, and the product is subsequently held to infringe the patent at trial, the company may be at risk of a court finding that the infringement was willful and assessing enhanced damages. To mitigate this risk, “the law of willful infringement… requires prudent, ethical, legal and commercial actions” on which basis “a prudent person would have had sound reason to believe that the patent was not infringed or was invalid or unenforceable, and would be so held if litigated.” SIR International, Inc. v. Advanced Technology Laboratories, Inc., 127 F.3d 1462 (Fed. Cir. 1997).

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