A patent grants to an inventor the exclusive right to prevent others from making, using, or selling his invention throughout the United States. However, an inventor is statutorily barred from receiving a patent for an invention that was “on sale” prior to one year before his U.S. filing date. An offer to sell cannot bar patentability until an invention exists. The general issue in applying the “on sale” bar is “[a]t what point is the invention sufficiently developed such that, coupled with an offer to sell, the inventor’s commercial activities invoke the on sale bar?” The United States Supreme Court’s decision in Pfaff v. Wells Electronics, Inc. once again affirmed that reduction to practice is not necessary to trigger this one year period (known as the “critical date”). This decision has serious effects for both sole inventors and big companies. This Note will discuss the background of the “on sale” bar to patentability and the particular facts of Pfaff v. Wells Electronics, Inc., and will analyze why the Supreme Court decided that the “on sale” bar does not require an actual reduction to practice of the invention.
Whitman, Daniel J.
"The "On-Sale" Bar to Patentability: Actual Reduction to Practice Not Required in Pfaff v. Wells Electronics, Inc.,"
Akron Law Review: Vol. 32
, Article 7.
Available at: http://ideaexchange.uakron.edu/akronlawreview/vol32/iss2/7