Business wins billions in patent suit

Think you don't need a patent for your invention? The details of this case will help prove otherwise.

The case involves a research-based biopharmaceutical company, Gilead Sciences, Inc. The biopharmaceutical giant was accused of violating a patent held by Merck & Co. when making a new medication. The judge presiding over the case found that the patent was infringed and that the infringement was responsible for over half Gilead's revenue.

This translated to an award of $2.54 billion.

The plot thickens - could the patent holder get a larger award? In what may seem like a staggering twist, the patent holder could get an even larger award than the $2.54 billion that was already granted.

That "b" is not a typo. This award is in the billions of dollars.

Why increase the award? The judge found that the patent was infringed upon and that the infringement was willful. When the finding is willful, the award can be increased by almost three times the original amount.

Is this type of award common? It is important to note that this magnitude of an award is not common. The ABA Journal, a publication that focuses on legal happenings, states that this is "the largest patent infringement verdict in U.S. history."

What can entrepreneurs learn from this case? This case provides an example of the importance and power of patents. If you have an invention or idea, it is wise to protect it. The best form of protection may vary, as a number of legal tools are available depending on the specifics of the proposition.

As such, it is wise for entrepreneurs to seek legal counsel to help better ensure they choose the right legal tool to protect their business interests.

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