A great deal of the litigation in the bioeconomy concerns the interpretation of patents and other intellectual property (IP). Topics like freedom to operate and patent infringement can be extraordinarily complex and highly technical, sometimes turning on the interpretation of a single word in a patent claim or specification. Many parties involved in litigation have need for expert witnesses in matters like aquaculture, biochemicals, bioplastics, biogas production, biogas upgrading, catalysis, cellulose, feedstocks, fermentation, food ingredients, gasification, gas-to-liquids, industrial chemicals, biocarbon, biochar, activated carbons, neutraceuticals, polymers, polymer recycling, renewable diesel, renewable jet fuel, renewable chemicals, rubber, and solvents.
Intellectual property includes intangible creations of the human intellect that are defined in documentation. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others. Patents are one of the best known types of IP in addition to copyrights, trademarks, and trade secrets. A patent gives its owner the legal right to exclude others from making, using, selling, practicing, or importing an invention for a limited period of years, in exchange for publicly disclosing the invention. In most areas of the bioeconomy patents are an essential form of competitive advantage.
The intangible nature of patents presents difficulties when compared with physical property like land or possessions. A patent can be likened to a property deed that defines a physical plot of land that one owns. But unlike land that can be defined physically by a fence or hedge, the boundaries of a patent are defined by the words of the claims.
Rights for patents in the bioeconomy fall under civil law and the patent holder needs to sue someone for infringing on the patent in order to enforce his or her rights. Due to the complex nature of the technology described by a patent, and the particular language utilized in writing patents, very specialized expertise is required to properly interpret patent claims and specifications. Familiarity with the technology or product at issue as well as the legalese of the patent literature makes for an ideal expert witness in patent disputes.
An expert witness is someone hired to both assist a party or attorney in better understanding the matters at hand and to testify in the legal proceeding. Some experts are hired to assist with a determination of exactly what happened and who was at fault. Others are hired to assist with determining the damages that occurred. Many are hired to help support both issues.
While a judge makes the ultimate determination of as to whether one qualifies as an expert and can testify as such, the jury is normally free to decide how much weight and credibility to give the expert’s opinion. Thus, it is very important to choose an expert with not only the proper credentials, but also one who can effectively translate complex, technical matters into terms that juries can easily understand. At Lee Enterprises Consulting, our experts are the top specialists in their fields. Testifying as an expert is only a small part of our experts’ professional work. We have generalized training for all our experts that we refer as expert witnesses, making sure they understand their role in a proceeding and can check for conflicts prior to engagement. We stress the importance of Daubert qualification and the relationship they need to have with the hiring attorneys. For a full discussion on expert witnesses and hiring those in the bioeconomy, see our two articles: “The Expert Witness in Biofuels and Biochemicals Litigation” and “Hiring An Expert Witness in The Bioeconomy”. We also have highly qualified experts available to assist you with any bioeconomy related matter. Feel free to call or email us for more information.