Magnetar Techs v. Intamin

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Patents
  • Date Filed: 09-14-2015
  • Case #: 13-56119; 13-56333
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Smith for the Court; Circuit Judge N. Smith and Senior District Judge Lamberth
  • Full Text Opinion

No person is entitled to patent an invention that has been on sale for more than a year before having filed the application for the patent.

Intamin Limited (Intamin) created a unique magnetic braking system used in a roller coaster ride sold to a Kentucky amusement park in 1995. In 1996, Intamin requested for a patent on the magnetic braking system. Intamin acquired exclusive property rights on the patent in 2004, U.S. Patent No. 6,062,350 (‘350 Patent). Later that year, Intamin sued Magnetar Technologies Corporation (Magnetar), a braking system manufacturing company, for infringement on the ‘350 Patent by selling the same type of magnetic braking system. The district court granted Magnetar summary judgment for not infringing on the patent, holding that the composition of the braking system differed from the patented brakes, and that Intamin had unclean hands after writing letters threatening litigation to companies who had infringed on the patent if they did not compensate Intamin for the purchase of the license. Magnetar filed a complaint against Intamin for a malicious prosecution, for Intamin knew that the patent was invalid due to the on-sale bar of 35 U.S.C. §102. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit held that a reasonable attorney would not have believed the magnetic braking system was commercially offered for sale before they had applied for the patent. For an invention to be ready for patenting, there must be proof that the invention will work for its intended purpose before the critical date or before the critical date the inventor has created drawings enabling the practice of the invention. The panel concluded that there was ample evidence showing the brakes were still being tested after the critical date, and thus was not ready for patenting. AFFIRMED.

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