ILNews

SCOTUS rules on patent obviousness

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Supreme Court of the United States today ruled that an invention can be too obvious for a patent.

Taking up the patent issue and question of "How obvious is too obvious?" for the first time in 20 years, the court ruled unanimously in KSR International v. Teleflex that a gas pedal design was too obvious.

Engineering company Teleflex sued KSR International, a Canadian maker of gas pedals, for alleged infringement of a patent it owned on an adjustable gas pedal assembly (which includes an accelerator, brake or clutch) combined with an electronic control that can be adjusted by the driver to move the pedal closer to or farther from the driver – much like an adjustable seat in position to the steering wheel.

The case was dismissed at the District Court level on summary judgment based on obviousness, with a finding that anyone with an undergraduate degree or modest industry experience "would have found it obvious" to connect the two parts to provide the claimed assembly. But the Federal Circuit that hears all patent cases reversed that judgment.

"The Federal Circuit addressed the obviousness question in a narrow, rigid manner that is inconsistent with §103 and this Court ;s precedents," Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for a unanimous court. "KSR provided convincing evidence that mounting an available sensor on a fixed pivot point of the Asano pedal was a design step well within the grasp of a person of ordinary skill in the relevant art and that the benefit of doing so would be obvious."

Further in the opinion, Justice Kennedy wrote, "We build and create by bringing to the tangible and palpable reality around us new works based on instinct, simple logic, ordinary inferences, extraordinary ideas, and sometimes even genius. These advances, once part of our shared knowledge, define a new threshold from which innovation starts once more. And as progress beginning from higher levels of achievement is expected in the normal course, the results of ordinary innovation are not the subject of exclusive rights under the patent laws. Were it otherwise, patents might stifle rather than promote the progress of useful arts."

This was one of two patent rulings the nation ;s high court issued today. The other – Microsoft v. AT&T – held in favor of Microsoft in that Section 271(f) of the Patent Act does not extend to cover foreign duplication of software.
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  1. Don't we have bigger issues to concern ourselves with?

  2. Anyone who takes the time to study disciplinary and bar admission cases in Indiana ... much of which is, as a matter of course and by intent, off the record, would have a very difficult time drawing lines that did not take into account things which are not supposed to matter, such as affiliations, associations, associates and the like. Justice Hoosier style is a far departure than what issues in most other parts of North America. (More like Central America, in fact.) See, e.g., http://www.theindianalawyer.com/indiana-attorney-illegally-practicing-in-florida-suspended-for-18-months/PARAMS/article/42200 When while the Indiana court system end the cruel practice of killing prophets of due process and those advocating for blind justice?

  3. Wouldn't this call for an investigation of Government corruption? Chief Justice Loretta Rush, wrote that the case warranted the high court’s review because the method the Indiana Court of Appeals used to reach its decision was “a significant departure from the law.” Specifically, David wrote that the appellate panel ruled after reweighing of the evidence, which is NOT permissible at the appellate level. **But yet, they look the other way while an innocent child was taken by a loving mother who did nothing wrong"

  4. Different rules for different folks....

  5. I would strongly suggest anyone seeking mediation check the experience of the mediator. There are retired judges who decide to become mediators. Their training and experience is in making rulings which is not the point of mediation.

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