BWC --- Pickering v. Holman, 459 F.2d 403

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This case deals with a mix of experimentation and publication issues. The patentee is suing for patent infringement on his patent for a plastic blinker light, with traffic applications. His suit was shot down in district court, and now was being heard by the District of Montana, with Judge James M. Carter delivering the opinion. There are also rewards and other money issues, but those are not relevant to this discussion.

The defendants argue that the patent awarded to Pickering is invalid based on the "prior use" and "printed in a publication" bars. They contend with regards to "printed in a publication" that even though the publication concerned an experimental phase, it still put in the public domain the content of the invention. Concerning what is a publication, the court asserts "Confidential documents are not publications. The key is disclosure by way of a medium capable of providing wide public access, not commercial exploitation." The court also claims that Pickering's main error in his argument is that he is not able to use the experimentation exception that is found in "prior use" discussions in "printed publication" issues. Once again, once the idea is in the public domain, the clock starts to tick.