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   Unused portions of expired patents
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   Author  Topic: Unused portions of expired patents  (Read 2104 times)


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Unused portions of expired patents
« on: Sep 23rd, 2004, 4:31pm »
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Can a patent for a new use of an expired patented computer system be allowed, i.e. the original patent was broad and didn't limit itself to any quantity of data parameters used in the operation of the system.  The manufactured device used with the system available to the public had X available parameters, lets say, but there were actually Y electronic parameters capacity in the electronics, with Y greater than X.  The patent expired over 20 years ago.
Only partial use of the expired patent was made available to the public and the whole electronics were used in private, non-public venues, but some engineers know that the embedded electronics of the expired patented device are present, for industry technical standards reasons.  The new methods or system patent would utilize all of the electronics with some visual changes on the public device, to allow new usages of the device in conjunction with other new systems, for public consumption.
I find myself arguing both ways.  One says that the technology is old.  the public still uses a limited capacity version.  The military used it all for a while but not in todays scenario.  The public has no clue the imbedded electronics exist and there are limited usages of all the electronics today in small, private niches, if at all.  Therefore expanding the public's usage is worthy of a patent given that there is extended usage of the improved old device that was not available years ago.  
The other says its too obvious.
Kind of reminds me that on my new HP copier/ fax / scanner, where you can send colored faxes.  I didn't know that was even considered.  If the electronics have existed for years, but HP came up with the colored version, can they patent the colored fax and add a couple of new buttons?  This is close to my dilemma.
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Re: Unused portions of expired patents
« Reply #1 on: Sep 23rd, 2004, 5:38pm »
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A process patent is possible for a new use of using existing
technology.  It does not even matter whether the pre existing
technology is patented, unpatented or whether it used to be
The problem with such patents is that they can only be enforced
on end users.  You cannot stop people from making the things
used for your invention because they obviously have other
uses than infringing your patent.
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