I have a listing of a chinese wireless charger, compatible with the new iPhones.

How can i know, whether the product infringes Apple's patents without hiring a lawyer (which would be more expensive than the whole operation).

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    I’m voting to close this question because belongs on patents.stackexchange.com Jan 28 at 18:29
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    This site is not for direct and/or specific legal advice. Jan 28 at 18:29
  • A request for a specific advice would come with a lot more specifics, don't you think so? Jan 28 at 19:59
  • You don't specifically understand the "and/or" construct of my statement? Jan 28 at 20:31
  • Go ahead, close it. Or do you prefer me to delete it? Jan 29 at 0:51

Amazon and most similar vendors (e.g. Wal-Mart) requires vendors to warrant to them that the products sold do not violate intellectual property laws and indemnifying Amazon for any harm it suffers if the representation is inaccurate. (I came to learn this in intellectual property litigation involving a Wal-Mart supplier and in separate patent infringement attorney malpractice litigation involving other vendors of different firms.) But it doesn't generally do any independent due diligence to confirm that these representations are true.

As a practical matter, determining if something infringes any existing patent is a non-trivial matter, and even in cases where patent infringement lawsuits are brought by lawyers in court who have done due diligence, the validity of the patent is upheld in only about 50% of the cases that go to trial. The basic problem is that there is no definitive way to index patents that isn't vulnerable to an invention which is infringed being described in a different way than you are conceptualizing it for your search.

Generally speaking, simply buying a patent infringing good as an end user in the good faith belief that it is not infringing is not a violation of patent law or actionable, and the knowledge that large firms require representations with legal consequences from their vendors probably suffices to show good faith. But if you plan to use the purchased good in some product that will be resold to others that incorporates it, that might be an infringement.

If you are a prospective vendor, there are firms that specifically do patent searchers to determine if there is an infringement, but they aren't cheap. Typically the fee would start at $5,000-$10,000 and go up from there, and typically that is for a non-guaranteed search. An opinion letter from a patent practitioner would be necessary to be really sure (assuming that the patent practitioner or non-patent practitioner search doesn't find a clear infringement which could happen quickly and be cheap by comparison) and that would be much more expensive, maybe $25,000-$100,000, if it wasn't a particularly close case.

On the other hand, if what you are primarily concerned about is the design of the bit that plugs into the Apple product, rather than all aspects of the product, it is a relatively trivial matter to determine if the connector involves an industry standard which is either in the public domain or widely available for license at a modest price for manufacturers, in which Apple does not itself claim a patent, or a proprietary design, in which Apple claims rights.

USB-C connections, for example, are an industry standard connector, discussed here, which would give you some further leads. In contrast, earlier Apple-promoted (and developed) Lightning and MagSafe connectors, are proprietary connectors, which would potentially be infringing and would require more analysis.

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    An opinion letter about the likelihood of winning in an infringement case would need to be from a licensed attorney, not a patent practitioner (which includes non-attorney agents). The attorney need not be registered with the USPTO as a patent attorney. Patent litigators need not be registered patent attorneys although they often are. Jan 28 at 19:06
  • @GeorgeWhite Thanks as always for the refinements.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 28 at 19:36
  • @ohwilleke wow, thank you for your answer, very detailed. So my vendor (and then me as a reseller) has to demonstrate either a license or an opinion letter? Jan 28 at 19:57
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    @GregoryKornblum You have to represent that you either have a license or are not infringing. If you are wrong, Amazon will sue you into bankruptcy and might sue you personally for fraud as well.
    – ohwilleke
    Jan 28 at 20:56
  • Thank you, i think that's the best answer i could get :) Jan 29 at 0:51

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