Q: Patent on microwave vacuum drying process
I am considering importing food processing equipment from China, more specifically: continuous microwave vacuum drying production line.
I noticed an existing Canadian company holding a series of patents surrounding a similar process.
Does this mean that importing and using this type of processing equipment could constitute a patent infringement?
A: It is not clear from your question whether the Canadian holding company has patents in the country where you are going to have the equipment.
If the patents are in Canada and the equipment will be in the US, then the Canadian patents are irrelevant but you should look for analogous patents here.
If there are unexpired US patents that arguably cover the process, then you would potentially be infringing the US patents when you imported equipment here.
If there were analogous patents in China and the patent owner of both the Chinese and US patents was already paid at the China stage, then you may be able to bring the equipment in under the first sale doctrine. Sometimes this is called patent exhaustion. The concept of patent exhaustion across country borders is tricky and you should consult with someone familiar with this topic. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exhaustion_of_intellectual_property_rights Sometimes there are contractual limitations that someone is licensed in one country but cannot sell the equipment for export into another country. Your supplier should know if the products are covered by patents and approved for export.
I hope this helps.
Kevin E Flynn
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