Accepted purchase order by a wholesale manufacturer triggered on-sale bar to patentability

Jim Singer in IP Spotlight reminds companies, inventors, and professionals performing due diligence that offers for sale, even of hypothetical concepts, can bar eventual patentability. In August Technology Corp. v. Camtek, Ltd. (Fed. Cir. Aug. 22, 2011), the Court found that August Technology’s offer for sale of an integrated circuit inspection system triggered an on-sale bar to patentability, even though the system was not ready for patenting at the time the offer to sell was made.

Now, in a split decision, the Federal Circuit agreed with a lower court that Hamilton Beach’s patent claims (asserted against Sunbeam in Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc. v. Sunbeam Products, Inc. (Fed. Cir. 2013)) are invalid because acceptance of their purchase order for slow cookers from a foreign supplier to be delivered to the U.S. constituted an offer-for-sale, even though Hamilton Beach didn’t provide the necessary release to begin manufacturing and no product was actually manufactured or sold until after the critical date (more than one year before the filing date in the pre-America Invents Act environment).