2152.02(d) On Sale [R-11.2013]
[Editor Note: This MPEP section is only applicable to applications subject to examination under the first inventor to file (FITF) provisions of the AIA as set forth in 35 U.S.C. 100 (note). See MPEP § 2159 et seq. to determine whether an application is subject to examination under the FITF provisions, and MPEP § 2133.03 et seq. for information about on sale in regard to applications subject to pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102.]
The pre-AIA case law indicates that on sale activity will bar patentability if the claimed invention was: (1) the subject of a commercial sale or offer for sale, not primarily for experimental purposes; and (2) ready for patenting. See Pfaff v. Wells Elecs., Inc., 525 U.S. 55, 67, 48 USPQ2d 1641, 1646-47 (1998). Contract law principles apply in order to determine whether a commercial sale or offer for sale occurred. In addition, the enablement inquiry is not applicable to the question of whether a claimed invention is "on sale" under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b). See Epstein, 32 F.3d at 1568, 31 USPQ2d at 1824. The phrase "on sale" in AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) is treated as having the same meaning as "on sale" in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b), except that the sale must make the invention available to the public. For a discussion of "on sale" as used in pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b), see generally MPEP § 2133.03(b) et seq.
Under pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b), if an invention was "on sale," patentability was precluded only if the invention was on sale "in this country." See MPEP § 2133.03(d). Under AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1), there is no geographic limitation on where the sale or offer for sale may occur. When formulating a rejection, Office personnel should consider evidence of sales activity, regardless of where the sale activity took place.
The pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b) "on sale" provision has been interpreted as including commercial activity even if the activity is secret. See MPEP § 2133.03(b), subsection III.A. AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) uses the same "on sale" term as pre-AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(b). The "or otherwise available to the public" residual clause of AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1), however, indicates that AIA 35 U.S.C. 102(a)(1) does not cover secret sales or offers for sale. For example, an activity (such as a sale, offer for sale, or other commercial activity) is secret (non-public) if it is among individuals having an obligation of confidentiality to the inventor.