I wanted to develop a product based on my Ph.D. research carried out in 2002. I published a paper about my design in "Review of Scientific Instruments" in 2002. However, I just found out that a competitor's company had filed a patent in 2004, which partially claimed part of my design.
My paper was about ion beam production from a special plasma source. Competitor's design is the same as mine, but they claim it for plasma cleaning purpose. There was an original general patent from another company regarding using downstream plasma to clean microscopes. This patent didn't specify the detailed design of the plasma source. But his patent has already expired.
I believe I have the right to develop a product based on my published design for microscope cleaning application since the original general patent about plasma cleaning for microscope has expired. Am I right? Can I challenge the competitor's patent claim since their design is the same as my design that I published 2 years earlier even though they claim it for a different purpose.