If I find a novel design in some old, obscure literature, which was never patented and is not commonly used in products, what happens if I patent it?

If the patent is granted and then the owner of the original design realizes that their design is being used, and discovers that someone patented it after they published their design, can they gain control over the patent or dispute it somehow?

2 Answers 2


You can't patent something that you didn't invent. Period. You also can't patent something already publicly known. There is a one year grace period in the US, but again, you aren't the inventor. So basically, if somehow you manage to get a patent granted for this pre existing device it wouldn't be enforceable. By you or anyone else including the original inventor. To enforce a patent, you need to sue someone for infringement and should that suit get to trial the prior art will almost certainly invalidate the patent.


Specifically to “can they gain control over the patent” - if it wasn’t clear to you from EricS’s answer, it’s way too late to patent something found in old obscure literature. In your scenario the true inventor would need to point to the old publication somehow.

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