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I applied for a patent on a product/tool that I created and was actually using in the construction industry. One of my employees decided to quit and take the file and took and disappear. I recently learned that the said product was on the market and being sold. I let it go so many years ago, but seeing it on a store shelf is not acceptable!

  • Did you receive a patent? Did you pay the necessary fees? – Eric Shain Nov 23 '19 at 2:33
  • It was patent pending and yes I retained a lawyer and paid $1,200. – Kimberly Miller Nov 23 '19 at 2:57
  • Kimberly, can you provide the application publication number? Paying a lawyer is not what I'm asking about. Unless a patent is granted and you keep the patent fees (to the government) up to date, there is no patent protection. What we need to figure out is the current status of the application. – Eric Shain Nov 23 '19 at 14:26
  • If you "let it go" it is most likely gone, leaving you no patent protection. Depending on when your application was published and when your former employee started exploiting the invention it is possible you have a trade secret case. – George White Nov 23 '19 at 17:07
  • Was the application published? Than it is public domain and only if a patent has been issued "trade secret" claim could be valid. It also depends when the "idea" has been used and sold and how much your business was impacted. how long ago was it? – Moti Nov 25 '19 at 2:04
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Since the question is vague as to particulars (such as the application number), I'll try to answer generally. A patent application by itself provides no legal protection from someone implementing the invention. Only if the application gets granted as a patent do you gain protection. If you abandon the application and it publishes, it does provide some protection from someone else patenting the invention as it represents prior art.

If your former employee actually stole company documents then there may be a legal case, but not for patent infringement. In any case, you should consult with an actual attorney. I am not a lawyer and this isn't legal advice.

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