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Defining Unpatented Article: Why Labeling Products with Expired Patent Numbers Should Not Be False Marking

39 Pages Posted: 4 May 2010 Last revised: 1 Feb 2014

Laura N. Arneson

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Minnesota Law Review

Date Written: September 10, 2010

Abstract

The false marking statute was designed to prevent products from being labeled with patents that do not apply to them, but the Federal Circuit recently extended its reach to prevent labeling products with expired patent numbers. This decision has spurred litigation by third parties against the makers of articles covered by expired patents. If this litigation continues, it will create incentives for manufacturers not to mark their products, contravening the public notice function of the patent act. This Note argues that articles covered by now-expired patents should not be considered unpatented articles for the purposes of the false marking statute. Allowing continued labeling after expiration of the patent is consistent with judicial precedent and the policies underlying the false marking statute. The Federal Circuit or Congress should act to exclude labeling articles covered by valid but now-expired patents from being false marking. This restriction would prevent the development of incentives not to mark, avert exploitative litigation, and limit the enforcement of the false marking statute to violations that have the potential to cause serious harm to the public.

Keywords: patents, false marking, expired

JEL Classification: 034, K11

Suggested Citation

Arneson, Laura N., Defining Unpatented Article: Why Labeling Products with Expired Patent Numbers Should Not Be False Marking (September 10, 2010). Minnesota Law Review, Vol. 95, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1599902

Laura N. Arneson (Contact Author)

University of Minnesota - Twin Cities - Minnesota Law Review ( email )

229 19th Ave. South
Minneapolis, MN 55455
United States

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