It is critically important to file a patent application before any commercial activity, including ordering merchandise from a supplier.
There are four statutory bars, or roadblocks, that can determine whether or not you can patent your idea. These bars are: an offer for sale, an actual sale, public use, or public disclosure. The ‘on-sale’ bar applies when a you make an offer to sell your invention, or other patentable idea, more than one year prior to filing a patent application. In the United States, you are granted a one year grace period to file a patent application if you do any of the statutory bars. However, you will most likely loose your ability to patent your invention in other countries because they do not have a one year grace period.
In a recent case that highlights the importance of understanding how these bars can affect your rights; Hamilton Beach lost their right to a patent when they placed a purchase order for 2000 patented slow cooker units from their own supplier more than one year before they filed for protection. The supplier had reviewed a purchase order from the company and communicated it was ready to fulfill the order.
After Sunbeam Products, Inc brought a lawsuit challenging Hamilton Beach’s patent, the court found that at an offer for sale had taken place when Hamilton Beach entered into a contract with the supplier to purchase the units. Because this offer for sale had taken place more than one year before Hamilton Beach applied for a patent on the device, the court applied the on-sale bar, and Hamilton Beach’s patent on the device was invalidated.
How Can I Help?
Knowing the correct time to file for patent protection is crucial to protecting your ideas and inventions. If you, or someone you know, need help with any Intellectual Property issue, from filing a patent, trademark or copyright, or just need advice regarding how best to protect your inventions, ideas or your brand, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation at firstname.lastname@example.org or call TOLL FREE at 1-855-UR IDEAS (1-855-874-3327) and ask for Norman.
– Ex astris, scientia –
I am and avid amateur astronomer and intellectual property attorney in Pasadena, California and I am a Rising Star as rated by Super Lawyers Magazine. As a former Chief Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy, I am a proud member of the Armed Service Committee of the Los Angeles County Bar Association working to aid all active duty and veterans in our communities. Connect with me on Google +