Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc. v. Sunbeam Prods.

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Patents, Infringement
  • Date Filed: 08-14-2013
  • Case #: 2012-1581
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
  • LexisNexis Citation: 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 16797
  • Westlaw Citation: 2013 WL 4081872
  • Full Text Opinion

A patent is invalid due to the on-sale bar if, prior to its critical date, an embodiment of the patented subject matter is the subject of a commercial offer for sale, and the invent was ready for patenting.

Opinion (O'Malley): Hamilton Beach Brands, Inc. ("Hamilton Beach") sued Sunbeam Prods. ("Sunbeam"), alleging that Sunbeam's slow cooker infringed Hamilton Beach's Patent No. 7,947,928, which was a continuation of Hamilton Beach's earlier Patent No. 7,485,831, which covers a slow cooker with clips that seal the lid closed. Sunbeam's slow cooker was introduced before Hamilton Beach filed its continuation application, and the '831 patent did not cover Sunbeam's slow cooker. The district court found that the '928 patent was invalid because there was an invalidating commercial offer for sale prior to the '831 patent's critical date. Hamilton Beach appealed. A patent is invalid due to the on-sale bar if, prior to its critical date, an embodiment of the patented subject matter is the subject of a commercial offer for sale, and the invention was ready for patenting. A commercial offer for sale is an offer that can be made into a binding contract simply by acceptance. Prior to the critical date of the '831 patent, Hamilton Beach's sent a purchase order for its slow cooker to its supplier. Also prior to the critical date, the supplier indicated it was ready to fulfill the order pending Hamilton Beach's release. The supplier's request to begin production was a commercial offer for sale sufficient to meet the first part of the on-sale bar test. An invention is “ready for patenting” under the on-sale bar when it is reduced to practice, or it is depicted in drawings or described in writing such that a person of ordinary skill in the art could practice the invention. Prior to the '831 patent's critical date, Hamilton Beach made CAD drawings and detailed descriptions of its slow cooker available to customers. These descriptions and drawings showed that the invention was ready for patenting prior to the critical date, meeting the second part of the on-sale bar test. Because both prongs of the test were met, the Federal Circuit AFFIRMED the district court's invalidity holding.

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