Jessica M. Karmasek Sep. 17, 2014, 1:30pm

WASHINGTON (Legal Newsline) - This week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office will host a webinar discussing its Patent Litigation Online Toolkit.

The webinar, designed especially for consumers and small business owners who receive letters accusing them of patent infringement, will be held at noon EST Thursday.

In her Director’s Forum blog post Monday, Michelle Lee, deputy under secretary of commerce for intellectual property and deputy director of the PTO, said the toolkit is designed to “empower and inform” Main Street retailers and consumers. Often, they can’t afford a patent attorney, she said.

“It was developed to provide plain language answers to key questions,” Lee said.

The website’s resources include ways to find information about the patent being asserted -- including its assignment information or its past litigation history -- and ways to determine if other businesses are being sued over the same patent.

“We know of no other online resource, where a recipient of a patent infringement letter can go to get as much information as is available in this toolkit,” Lee said.

The toolkit, which was published in February following President Barack Obama’s State of the Union call to curb abusive patent litigation, features several web pages containing answers to commonly asked questions about demand letters and patent infringement complaints, such as: the definition of a patent, what to do if sued for infringement and what to do after receiving a letter.

It also features a glossary to ensure that consumers and small business retailers are on the same page.

Also included: links to many external websites offering certain services free of charge -- some with site registration required -- that may assist persons faced with demand letters or infringement suits.

Additionally, the toolkit links to sites with information about other legal proceedings involving the patent, including proceedings before the PTO.

“This can help you locate parties who might have faced similar issues,” Lee explained.

The toolkit also provides access to a patent attorney database, and features information about law school clinics that have programs to advise and/or represent small inventors and entrepreneurs.

“By presenting the information in as straightforward a manner as possible, the U.S. PTO sees this toolkit as a first-stop for people learning about their rights and trying to understand the various courses of action available under their circumstances,” Lee said, noting that nothing in the toolkit constitutes legal advice or should be considered a replacement for legal advice.

Thursday’s webinar will focus on the toolkit, and also highlight free resources and tools that may be of assistance if accused of infringement.

For specific webcast information, click here.

From Legal Newsline: Reach Jessica Karmasek by email at

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