Commercial use that does not reveal the invention to the public
a. If an inventor puts an invention into commercial use that does not reveal the invention to the public, then a one-year statutory period will be triggered.
(A) Metallizing Engineering Co: (C6P25) L. Hand noted that “a condition upon an inventor’s right to a patent is that he shall not exploit her discovery competitively after it is ready for patenting, he must content himself with either secrecy or a legal monopoly.” Goes on to note that there is a one year grace period, but if the inventor goes beyond that, “he forfeits his right regardless of how little the public may have learned about the invention; just as he can forfeit it by too long concealment.”
(B) Ex. If invention is a machine or process and the inventor uses it to manufacture products for
public sale. Examination of the products may not reveal the nature of the process or the machine.
This counts as public use triggering the one-year statutory period.
(C) Ex. A invents manufacturing process on 1/95, but does not put it to use. In 1/97, A begins to sell products to the public. A now has until 1/98 to file for a patent.
b. 3rd party unrelated to the applicant makes secret use of the invention
(A) Prior to A’s invention: § 102(a) problem for “known or used by others”
(B) After A’s invention: No statutory bar under Gore.
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