Industry Demo = Public Use

In Minerva Surgical, Inc. v. Hologic, Inc., the Federal Circuit provided a clear reminder of the risks of publicly showing an invention before a patent application is filed.  Minerva showed their medical device at an industry conference in 2009.  Minerva continued refining the device and filed a patent application in 2011.  In affirming summary judgment of invalidity, the Federal Circuit applied a two-prong test determining that the “public use” occurred more than a year before filing.  First, and despite arguments that Minerva “merely displayed” the device, the court found that Minerva showcased fully functional devices at a booth, in meetings, and in a technical presentation. The court noted that “public use is not predicated on a device being physically handled by the public.”  Second, and despite arguments that Minerva “was still working to improve” the device at the time of the conference, the court found that there was no dispute that the device was “ready for patenting” because Minerva had not only created working prototypes of the device that worked for its intended purpose, but also provided enabling documentation describing the invention.