one-year rule

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A statutory rule that requires a patent application to be filed within one year of public use of the invention, a sale of or offer to sell the invention, or any publication describing the invention. If the applicant fails to file a patent for their invention within one year of those, then the applicant is barred from filing a patent. 35 U.S.C. § 102 lays out the one-year rule. § 102(a) bars filing of a patent if the invention was “described in a printed publication, or in public use, on sale, or otherwise available to the public before the effective filing date of the claimed invention,” but § 102(b) provides an exception if any of those occurred one-year or less before the effective date of the filing of the claimed invention. That is, the statute operates by barring the filing of a patent which has been previously publicly used, sold or offered to sell, or published; unless those occurred one-year or less before the filing date.

[Last updated in April of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]