Q) Johnnie and Floor Tile (4.02.32a)

by patentbar on September 4, 2008 · 10 comments

in Exam Questions

32. Johnnie owns a supermarket store in Cleveland, Ohio, and is constantly frustrated
when little children drop their chewing gum on Johnnie’s clean floor in the supermarket.
In her spare time, Johnnie develops an entirely novel type of coating material that she
applies to floor tile. The coating material resists adhesion to chewing gum. In order to
check out the effectiveness of the floor tile coating material, on December 31, 2000, she
secretly covers the floor tiles in her supermarket with the new chewing gum resistant
floor tile coating material. Johnnie is amazed at the results inasmuch as cleaning the
floor was never easier. On January 30, 2001, Johnnie, satisfied with the experimental use
results, ceased testing the use of the coating material. The ability of the coating material
to withstand chewing gum adhesion continued unabated throughout the remainder of
2001. On January 1, 2002, one of Johnnie’s many customers, James, remarked at how
clean the floor looked. Johnnie then told James of her invention. James thinks for one
moment and suggests that the floor tile coating material may be useful in microwave
ovens, so that food will not stick to the interior sides of the microwave oven. James
discusses getting patent protection with Johnnie. Which of the following is true?
(A) Johnnie could never be entitled to a patent on a floor tile in combination
with a coating material affixed to the outer surface of the tile.
(B) James can be named as a coinventor with Johnnie in a patent application
claiming a microwave oven wherein the internal surfaces of the oven are
coated with the coating material.
(C) Since for one year Johnnie told nobody that the floor tile in her
supermarket contained the new chewing gum resistant coating material,
she would never be barred from obtaining patent protection for the floor
coating material.
(D) Use of the floor tile coating material in microwave ovens would have been
obvious to one of ordinary skill in the art, since James thought of it within
seconds after first learning of the floor tile coating material, and James
was not skilled in the art.
(E) The floor tile having the coating material affixed to the outer surface of
the tile, an article of manufacture, would not be patentable as of January 1,
2002 inasmuch as the article was in public use on the supermarket floor
for one year.

32. ANSWER: (B). Since Johnnie developed the material and James thought of the idea to use
it in microwave ovens, they rightfully could be considered coinventors of the new article of
manufacture. As to (A) and (C), public use began on when the experimental use ended on
January 30, 2001, and occurs even when the public is unaware that they were walking on the
developed material since the material was used in a public place. As to (D), even though James
only took a second to think of the idea, he is entitled to receive a patent unless it was obvious to
one of ordinary skill in the art. Nothing in the prior art revealed that it was obvious to use the
material in microwave ovens. As to (E), the article of manufacture is not barred even though the
floor material itself cannot be patented. Johnnie conducted an experimental use of the article
from December 31, 2000 through January 30, 2001. Thereafter, Johnnie had one year from the
end date of the experimental use to file a patent application for the article. Johnnie may file a
patent application before January 30, 2002.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SeanNo Gravatar April 18, 2009 at 2:05 pm

I think if the public doesn’t know it is using the product, it should be okay. My two cents on the USPTO rule.

Reply

2 superman10No Gravatar November 9, 2009 at 2:22 am

for answer choice E, i don’t understand the distinction between article of manufacture and the floor tile itself. any help?

“the article of manufacture is not barred even though the
floor material itself cannot be patented”

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3 Steven FeurchNo Gravatar May 20, 2011 at 11:38 am

I believe that she is the 2nd person to develop this type of product. Harry Knight, Sacramento, California developed it back in the late 1970’s for use in local hotel lobbies.

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4 Steven FeurchNo Gravatar May 20, 2011 at 11:40 am

Harry Knight, Sacramento, California developed this product back in the late 1970’s to resolve this type of problem in local hotel and motel plus movie theaters floors.

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5 SolNo Gravatar March 30, 2012 at 2:14 am

public use started on Jan 31, 2001 after the inventor ceased testing on jan 30, 2001, so the inventor could timely file the app before or on Jan 31, 2002.

public use means use in an unrestricted manner. the public does not need to be aware of it. As long as the invention is not hidden from the public, it is is public use.

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6 Churning Away NoMoreNo Gravatar July 1, 2012 at 2:35 pm

Got this. 06.30.2012

Reply

7 tomásNo Gravatar March 24, 2013 at 10:52 pm

Why is the use beginning December 31, 2000 not “public use”? The floor tiles in the supermarket are covered with the inventive coating then. Perhaps is was “not ready for patenting”?

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