Bill summaries are authored by CRS.

Shown Here:
Passed Senate amended (10/08/1994)

Patent Prior User Rights Act of 1994 - Provides that a person may not be liable as a patent infringer with respect to any subject matter claimed in the patent that such person had commercially used in the United States or made effective and serious preparation therefor in the United States before the effective filing date of the patent application. Declares that a person who purchases in good faith a product that results directly from such a use or preparation shall not be liable as an infringer for continuing the use of the product purchased or for selling such product to another person. Provides that rights based on prior use are not a general license under all claims of the patent but extend only to the claimed subject matter that the person asserting the prior use defense had commercially used or made effective and serious preparation therefor before the effective filing date of the patent application.

Includes within rights based on prior use the right to vary quantities or volumes or to make improvements that do not infringe claims other than those claims that would have been infringed as of the effective filing of the patent application.

Provides that rights based on prior use are personal and may not be licensed, assigned, or transferred to another except in connection with the assignment or transfer of the entire business or enterprise to which the rights relate.

Bars claims of rights based on prior use if the activity under which the person claims the rights was: (1) based on information derived from the patentee; or (2) abandoned on or after the effective filing date. (Permits such claims only for the period of activity that occurred before abandonment.)

Provides that the burden of proof for establishing the defense shall be on the person claiming rights based on prior use.

Establishes conditions under which this Act applies to actions for infringement in cases where the effective filing date of the patent application is before this Act's enactment date. Authorizes the court to grant equitable compensation to the patentee in such cases, subject to certain conditions.