This is in response to Andy LaTorre's speculations about the
coverage a patent provides. It may be noted that I have been a
patent attorney for nearly 40 years and have prepared and prosecuted
many formidable patent applications into patents, some of them of
historic stature, including those for a number of substantial
inventions in the automatic musical instrument field.
When a US patent is issued, the owner of the patent is granted the
right to prevent others from making, having made, using or selling
the invention, as defined in the patent claim(s), in the United States
and its territories. Licenses may be granted, at the owner's option,
to permit the invention to be practiced by a licensee in return for
some sort of compensation, often a royalty. Patent licenses may have
all sorts of restrictions; e.g., field of use, territorial, time
period, exclusive, non-exclusive, etc., etc.
So, Andy LaTorre's proposed personal making/using would constitute
an actionable infringement of a patent if at least one of the patent
claims "reads on" his device or process or whatever. As a practical
matter, the personal use infringement might not be worth the trouble
of an infringement suit, but then again, it might be, in special
circumstances. Also, note that willful infringement of a patent may
give rise to treble damages.
Don Shenberger has cited the correct relevant provision in 35 United
States Code; note that "offer for sale" is another act which can be
Robbie wonders under what conditions a patentee can be required to
license. In the United States, the patentee can sit on his patented
invention for the full term of the patent! Patent rights are in the
nature of personal property, and there is NO requirement under United
States patent law for compulsory license. (Very rarely, such a
requirement can be established by a Federal Court in conjunction with
a suit which the patentee loses.) The term of coverage used to be 17
years from the date of issue; now it is 20 years from the date of first
filing: the "priority" date.
Hope this is helpful in understanding a bit about the often confusing
law of patents.
Regards to all.
Jim Phillips - Phoenix AZ