I am an EU citizen who has patented an idea in the US and Europe. I am about to initiate discussions for the disclosure of my idea to a renowned US based company and was wondering , in the event that my idea is stolen etc, whether i could sue the American company in Europe
1 Answer from Attorneys
If the American company has offices in your country in Europe (has a physical presence there), you can probably sue them there, depending on the laws in that particular country. If they just sell stuff there without having a physical presence (i.e., sell through the internet and have no offices in the countries to which they ship), then jurisdiction can get pretty weird because the laws of the country you wish to sue in would work with (or against) US law to determine whether the suit would be able to proceed in that country. If they have a sales rep or two there but no corporate function other than sales, again the jurisdictional issues get long and involved. That determination is based on too many factors to go through here.
While jurisdictional games are played frequently, you would ALWAYS do best in terms of establishing and keeping personal jurisdiction over your defendant by suing any defendant on their own home turf, in the place in which they are incorporated and/or have their main offices. That way, you avoid any possible jurisdictional issues based on forum, and thereby save yourself a potentially very expensive fight to keep the suit in Europe. Also, by bringing the suit in the USA, you'd be proceeding under US patent law, which has some very sharp teeth that can bite infringers. That said, there may be an overriding legal reason to bring the suit elsewhere and fight the jurisdictional battle.
If an American company infringes your patent, you NEED a lawyer who litigates patent disputes. That is not me, but I know some good ones to whom I would gladly refer you.
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