If the company has been selling a product for some time, and it was not patented. But then the original inventor decided to patent the product. You still have it in stock. How long have you got to sell this product without a patent?

  • How long were they selling it for pre-application? In the United States, they only have one year before their own sales could essentially count as prior art against them, and even that can be kind of risky. It might be that they couldn't get a patent anyway. In any event, I'd probably speak with a patent professional to review your specific case. This is an interesting question, and I hope someone can give a good answer, but that's probably the right course of action for a real-world situation like this. Jan 29, 2016 at 23:17
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    @MatthewHaugen - this should probably be moved to an answer - as depending on the situation, it could be an answer.
    – SRDC
    Mar 3, 2016 at 4:38

1 Answer 1


There is no grace period. As soon as you receive notice of the patent (or, in some cases, the published application) - or should have received notice (i.e. once the patent is published, you are typically assumed to have received constructive notice).

For a good discussion of 'actual notice', 'constructive notice', and the issues around potential liability for infringement that occurs before a patent actually issues, you may be interested in this article by IRMI.

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