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“Evidence of Use (EoU) is a type of analysis designed to protect the IP and related interests of patent holders and investors. Its primary goals are to identify products, processes, or services in the marketplace that potentially infringe on the patent in question and to evaluate the strength of the patent assertion campaign……Besides identifying likely and potential infringers, EoU can also give an indication of a patent’s future potential, provide information necessary for the creation of a sales or licensing agreement, and help patent owners build a viable and sustainable R&D plan.”

From https://www.legaladvantage.net/patent-search/evidence-of-use/

What is the difference between "likely" and "potential" here? Does “potential” mean the entity will grow to become an infringer? How is it different from “likely”?

I originally asked the question here https://forum.wordreference.com/threads/likely-and-potential-infringers.3613204/#post-18401117, but was still confused. Could you help me?

Likely:

1 used to indicate the chance that something will happen

2 seeming to be true : BELIEVABLE

3 always used before a noun : seeming to be right or suited for a purpose

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/likely

Potential:

capable of becoming real : POSSIBLE

http://www.learnersdictionary.com/definition/potential

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In this context, I would say that the author is using the two in order to mean two different levels of likelihood:

A 'likely' infringer is one who has (lets say) a more than 50% chance of infringing.

A 'potential' infringer is therefore one who is less likely, but still has the 'motive and means' to do so.

(Not the most obvious bit of English - quite poor really unless it has already been defined earlier in the document.)

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I do believe this is the case;

Likely:

Possibility of anything to happen based on some actual proof.

Potential:

A slight chance of anything to happen and has no proof.

other wise we won't be able to say:

He has proved his potential. Now he is likely to be chosen as a quarterback.

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