I'm sure many of you have noticed on various products a notice claiming that the object was covered by some patents, or that it had "patents pending." There are legal reasons for including such notices -- and it's illegal to falsely make such claims. So what happens when the patent expires and the maker of the goods still includes the notice? We're about to find out, as a patent attorney has sued some companies who continue to list expired patents on their products
, claiming that this is illegal false marking of patent rights. While there may be practical reasons (the marking process was already in place) for continuing to announce the patent, it's troublesome because it's claiming monopoly rights that the holder does not have and may scare off others from making use of a public domain concept. In this age where so many patent holders view patents as important property, it's no surprise that they have trouble letting go once the patent expires and the concept is moved into the public domain.