3/21/2011: MIT v. Harman International Industries - Stulc

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In U.S. District Court, MIT argued with Harman International Industries over the validity of a patent that stemmed from a MIT graduate student's thesis project dealing with automated driving directions. The major issues reviewed in the case are at which point the doctoral thesis became available to the public. Depending on the court's ruling, the date could fall before or after the critical date, August 9, 1989. MIT held that the information was made public on February 27, 1990 when the dissertation was added to the MIT library. Harman argued that because the experimentation before the critical date was not tightly controlled and because the thesis was signed before the critical date, the information was readily available to the public and the patent should be invalid. The court dismissed Harman's arguments, appealing to the internal proceedings of the university and the lack of commercial exploitation to support the experimentation process. The court ruled that this public use bar did not factor into the validity of the patent and that the patent remained valid because there was a clear record present that it did not reach the public until after the critical date.