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Patent Question
« on: Feb 3rd, 2004, 10:39am »
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I have a general question about claims of a patent.  Let's say, for example, someone has an unexpired patent for a couch, just a typical couch.  Would it possible for someone to obtain a patent for, let's say, a couch with a bed inside (i.e. a sofa bed), assuming that it is not an obvious improvement of the typical patented couch?
 
Further, let's say the couch patent, for sake of simplicity, had one claim:
 
A couch, with two arms, a seat and a back.
 
Can the sofa bed invention, with the following claim be patented even though all of the element in the couch patent are present?
 
A couch, with two arms, a seat, a back, and a bed.
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Re: Patent Question
« Reply #1 on: Feb 3rd, 2004, 11:30am »
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Yes, a non-obvious improvement of a known thing is itself patentable.
 
For what it's worth, the fact that the patent on the couch is unexpired is irrelevant.  Prior art includes all that is known, not just all that is coverd by unexpired patents.
 
I hope that helps.
 
Regards.
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Re: Patent Question
« Reply #2 on: Feb 3rd, 2004, 7:40pm »
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Dear Guest,
That does not mean that the user of the improvement patent might not infringe the basic patent.
 
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Re: Patent Question
« Reply #3 on: Feb 4th, 2004, 3:49am »
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Dear Guest,
 
Both Mr. Ivey and Mr. Auslander are correct.  
 
Encouraging the invention of  improvements to existing patented inventions is one of the basic goals of the patent system.
 
Although you may not be able to practice your invention without a license to the existing patent (until it expires) neither will the existing patent holder be able to take advantage of your improvement without a license from you. Having a patent on the improvement may create conditions for a cross-license which would enable both of you to make the improved version. This is a very common way gaining access to patented technolgy without paying a license.  
 
Regards,  
 
Eric Stasik
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Re: Patent Question
« Reply #4 on: Nov 9th, 2004, 7:27pm »
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I have a follow-up question to the couch example.  If party "A" received the couch under a non-disclosure agreement ("NDA"), can party "A" file a patent application for the sofa bed (ie, the improvement) without naming as co-inventor the inventor of the couch?  In this case, is the couch considered to be prior art because it was invented by another?
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