I have a question relating to whether an imported product made in a foreign country by a patented method, before the method was patented, would be prior art to the method patent. That's a mouthful, so below I've provided a hypothetical and accompanying 3 questions.
Assume the following facts:
- I own a patent on a method of making widgets filed in 2000;
- I also own a patent on the system used to make the widgets filed in 2000;
- A competitor practiced the method and used the system in a foreign country in 1998;
- The competitor did not publish any documents relating to the method or system;
- However, the competitor imported and sold a widget in the US in 1999;
The questions are:
- Is the use of the method prior art? I believe the answer is "NO." [35 U.S.C. 102(b) - "use in this country")]
- Is the use of the system prior art? Same as #1
- Is the sale of the widget in the US prior art to either of the patents? I believe the answer is "NO," because there is no teaching of the method or system. The widget would, however, be prior art to a patent on the actual product.