A competitor filed a patent application (it's public now). We offer the same feature but added it to our products after the application date. We found prior art that will kill the patent. The prior art is a live example from 2007 of the exact feature, the competitor is trying to patent. What should we do to make sure the competitor will not sue us in the future? Should we approach the competitor and offer not to kill the patent and in return they will not sue us (to gain an advantage on other competitors)?

It may not be possible to eliminate the risk of an infringement claim against your invention. However, with thorough research and informed design, you can minimize the likelihood that your patent infringes on an existing claim. To avoid patent infringement, ensure your innovation will later pass the test for literal infringement and the doctrine of equivalents requirements.
Patent infringement searches unearth specific patent claims that your proposed innovation may infringe upon. The result of this type of research is an assessment of the risk of infringing on an existing patent with your new technology. To avoid patent infringement, it is best to complete a patent infringement search early in the innovation cycle, so that your product can be designed around existing claims. While this process sounds like a patentability search, the two are different because they serve different purposes. An FTO search aims to assess the likelihood of infringement; a patentability search focuses on proving novelty.
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Answered 10 months ago

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