I invented a similar idea years ago but never sold it or disclosed it publicly. ALthough I thought about patenting it in 2013 and could not find any anything similar at the time, I just didn't have the money and had no idea about provisional patents then.
So now, I go to research again and find that there was a similar idea, and that it was submitted under a provisional in April 2013, AFTER the new rules went into effect. I suspect that when I went to look in 2013, since it was a PPA, it was not yet published so I couldn't find it. However it was publishe and viewable 18 months after filing. ALL throughout this time, this inventor was selling her item.
This inventor actually began making and publicly selling her item at least as early as 2011. From what I can find, it looks like inventor may have filed a provisional in both 2012 (although there is no published record of a different PPA) and then in March 2013, after the new rules came into effect. But I don't think she ever went forward with a full patent.
However, now it is 4.5 years since filing the PPA and she still is using "patent pending" on her website and literature. Is this legal?
And if she has abandoned her right to patent, can I patent my similar idea?
Would an inventor with abandoned PPA 4 yrs out have any legal right against me for selling, marketing, licensing or patenting a similar idea?
Now...I cant tell for sure if this is an expired PP or a non provisional patent application number?
I need to know because if she actually has a patent filed, and it is just in pending status, I have to go a different route. I believe I can file an improvement patent, since my idea is a different design, although same function,