Is It Illegal To Announce A Patent On Something After That Patent Has Expired?

from the we'll-soon-find-out dept

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.
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Filed Under: expired, patents, public domain


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  1. icon
    mermaldad (profile), 6 May 2008 @ 3:58am

    Re: Should people show old patent numbers on items?

    Bragging rights are fine, but if you're showing an expired patent number, it should be clearly marked as expired. Sure it's easy to look up a patent number and see that its expired, but most people won't. I could argue that it's okay to show patents that aren't yours or don't apply to the product because it's easy to look them up and figure out that they're bogus, but nearly everyone agrees that this is an unacceptable practice. Listing expired patents as if they were still active is only slightly less shady.

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