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What happens if a granted patent is found to be unfeasible?

What happens if the initial owner sold the patent or its rights and later the patent turns out to be unfeasible?

I am aware that it may depend on the country it has been granted in.

  • Unfeasible means Impractical or impossible? – George White Jul 28 at 0:40
  • A product that can not be manufactured with the claimed process or that can not serve its purpose (not functional) if manufactured with the described process. Thus the hypothetical patent I am considering would be impossible. It is true however that the patent may serve as prior art for a future improvement, there are many patents that are formulated like an element to be used by other patents. But the case I was considering is that of a granted patent that turns out to be wrong or impossible – user10010101 Jul 29 at 17:55
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What happens if a granted patent is found to be unfeasible?

I am not a lawyer so I'm not an expert in this. However, what I believe happens is basically nothing. The patent grant continues to exist. This shouldn't be much of a problem since if it really doesn't work, no one would be building a infringing product. Now there is the potential that the patent owner might try and sue someone based on the patent, but if it can be proven that the patent doesn't work I'd doubt that it would hold up in court.

What happens if the initial owner sold the patent or its rights and later the patent turns out to be unfeasible?

For the entity who purchased the patent rights, they didn't get good value for their investment. It is their own fault for not performing an adequate due diligence. Business people make bad deals all the time.

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  • To add to the answer, the biggest evil is that an issued patent is presumed to work when looking at future patent applications. Thi can make it hard for someone else who finds a subset of the patent that does work from getting a patent becasue it is "already known". They will need affidavits from experts that the earlier thing didn't work (we would say the claims were not enabled) in order to removed it as prior art. – George White Jul 26 at 0:09
  • If the patent owner knew that it didn't work there may be a case of fraud perpetrated by them on the buyer of the patent rights. – George White Jul 26 at 0:10
  • I assume by unfeasible we mean you can't get the claimed method to work or the claimed device to perform, at all, using the specification + ordinary skill in the art. There is nothing wrong with patented things being inefficient, non-optimal or not ready for production cost effectively. – George White Jul 26 at 0:14
  • @GeorgeWhite You make so excellent points. I encourage you to add an answer. – Eric Shain Jul 26 at 1:11
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I do not think the arrangement would be very much different than any other sale/transfer of personal property under state law.

The USPTO can not and does not do any research or experiments to determine if the subject of a patent application works. As long as the application is coherent and feasible on its face the examination focuses on the novelty and obviousness of the claimed invention.

Perpetual motion is the best example of a topic where an examiner will generate a section 101 rejection as it not being "useful". The applicant is free to contest it by demonstration.

A patent owner who licenses an impossible patent to another party might or might not be engaged in some type of fraud. The buyer would normally not spend much on a patent unless they where convinced it worked.

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