Patent exercises

Question one. Pay close attention to the sequence of events below. All events take place in 2016.

  • On January 1, Fiona Furst invents a new method of cooking waffles.
  • On February 1, Sammy Secuna independently invents the same method of cooking waffles.
  • On March 1, Sammy Secunda publishes an article in The Huffington Post detailing every element of his method of cooking waffles.
  • On April 1, Fiona appears on The Today Show and demonstrates her method in full.
  • On May 1, Sammy files an application for a patent for his method.
  • On June 1, Fiona files an application for a patent for the same method.

Who, if anyone, is entitled to a United States patent? See 35 U.S.C. § 102.


Question two. Consider the patent below for a method of exercising a cat. The first claim states:

What is claimed is:

  1. A method of inducing aerobic exercise in an unrestrained cat comprising the steps of:

(a) directing an intense coherent beam of invisible light produced by a hand-held laser apparatus to produce a bright highly-focused pattern of light at the intersection of the beam and an opaque surface, said pattern being of visual interest to a cat; and

(b) selectively redirecting said beam out of the cat’s immediate reach to induce said cat to run and chase said beam and pattern of light around an exercise area.

Assume that a search of “prior art” (information such as publications, prior patents, public sale, and more) reveals a 1970s Hollywood film where a young child uses a small hand-held flashlight to tease a dog and make it run around after the light. What arguments can you make that the patent is invalid? See 35 U.S.C. §§ 102 and 103.


Question three. Your client ToyCo makes a water pistol that has a detachable external water tank. The owner of the patent below, PatenTee, has written your client asserting that your client is infringing claim 1 of the PatenTee water-pistol patent. PatenTee demands that your client pay a licensing fee to continue use of the patent, and if your client does not agree to pay, then PatentTee threatens to file a patent infringement lawsuit.

Provided below is the text of claim 1 and a drawn of PatenTee’s invention.

  1. A toy comprising an elongated housing having a chamber therein for a liquid, a pump including a piston having an exposed rod end extending rearwardly of said toy facilitating manual operation for building up an appreciable amount of pressure in said chamber for ejecting a stream of liquid therefrom an appreciable distance substantially forwardly of said toy, and means for controlling the ejection.


ToyCo has asked for your advice on what to do. How will you advise your client? Consider whether or not ToyCo’s water pistol falls within the scope of PatenTee’s claim 1. See also 35 U.S.C. § 271(a).


Question four. Another one of your clients Unfrunger Mfg., makes water-pistol tanks that are identical to the tank as used in Claim 1 of the patent above. Unfrunger does not make or sell complete water pistols. Instead, Unfrunger makes the tank that is used by another company (KnockEmOff LLC) that makes “knock-off” water pistols. Review all of 35 U.S.C. § 271. Do you think Unfrunger is liable? If so, under what part(s) of section 271?