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A patent owner may enforce his patent by bringing a patent infringement action (lawsuit) in federal court against anyone who uses his invention without permission. If the lawsuit is successful, the court will take one of two approaches. It may issue a court order (called an injunction) preventing the infringer from any further use or sale of the infringing device, and award damages to the patent owner. Or, the court may work with the parties to hammer out an agreement under which the infringing party will pay the patent owner royalties in exchange for permission to use the infringing device.
Bringing a patent infringement action can be tricky, because it is possible for the alleged infringer to defend herself by proving to the court that the patent is really invalid (most often by showing that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) made a mistake in issuing the patent in the first place). In a substantial number of patent infringement cases, the patent is found invalid and the lawsuit dismissed, leaving the patent owner in a worse position than before the lawsuit.