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If a new product infringes upon a patent, but is never sold (only rented out), can the patent owner sue?

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I am an attorney (though this is not my specialty). But yes, you can be sued for patent infringement if you are renting the product out. The key is that you are earning money (or better said, depriving the patent owner of making money). It helps to think of it like, "am I possibly taking money out of their pocket? If yes, it's probably patent infringement."

As Eric Shain mentioned, there is generally an exception for development/testing (which isn't taking any money away from the patent owner), versus selling, renting, giving away, etc. - all of those are going to take money out of the owner's pocket (theoretically - you can always argue that they wouldn't have gotten this business anyway, but that's a hard argument to win).

  • Thanks for confirming my assumption. I do believe the research exemption is very narrow and basically limited to pharma companies. – Eric Shain Nov 11 at 22:10
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I am not a lawyer so this answer isn't based on direct legal knowledge. That said, I would be very surprised if the patent owner couldn't successfully sue anyone using the patented technology whether or not it is sold or rented. There is a research exemption, but that has nothing to do with renting vs. selling a patented technology. So to be explicit:

If a new product infringes upon a patent, but is never sold (only rented out), can the patent owner sue?

Yes

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If you're in the USA and the question is "if I do X, can person A sue", the answer is always "yes". But in this case, it would be a legitimate answer. You can infringe a patent all by yourself, sitting at home, without ever leaving the house or selling the product.

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