CAFC Finds HFC Patent Valid: Honeywell Was Not “Another Inventor” under § 102(g)(2)

The following post comes from Scott Daniels, partner at Westerman,Hattori, Daniels & Adrian, LLP and Practice Center Contributor.

This Wednesday the CAFC held in Solvay v. Honeywell that Honeywell’s activities in the United States did not constitute prior art under 35 U.S.C. § 102(g)(2) against Solvay’s U.S. Patent No. 6,730,817.  The CAFC therefore reversed the trial court’s summary judgment that the patent was rendered invalid by Honeywell’s activities.  Solvay’s ‘817 patent claims a method for making hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) that are used in refrigeration and aerosol systems, as environmentally-friendly alternatives to chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs).

Paragraph (g) is the so-called “interference provision” of Section 102, but it also defines prior art that may be used in infringement actions, as in the present Solvay case.  Section 102(g)(2) provides in relevant part that a person is entitled to a patent if  “before such person’s invention thereof, the invention was made in this country by another inventor who had not abandoned, suppressed, or concealed it” (emphasis added).  The issue for the CAFC was whether Honeywell was “another inventor,” i.e., had it invented the claimed process.  The CAFC said no. (more…)