A. & P. Tea Co. Karch
A. & P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Corp., 340 U.S. 147 (1950)
Supreme Court of the United States
GREAT ATLANTIC & PACIFIC TEA CO. v. SUPERMARKET EQUIPMENT CORP. et al.
No. 32. Argued Oct. 18, 19, 1950. Decided Dec. 4, 1950. Rehearing Denied Jan. 8, 1951.
granted certiorari - courts below had ruled patents were valid: supreme court ruled invalid
Neither court below has made any finding that old elements which made up this device perform any additional or different function in the combination than they perform out of it. This counter does what a store counter always has done-it supports merchandise at a convenient height while the customer makes his purchases and the merchant his sales. The three-sided rack will draw or push goods put within it from one place to another-just what any such a rack would do on any smooth surface-and the guide rails keep it from falling or sliding off from the counter, as guide rails have ever done. Two and two have been added together, and still they make only four.
To bring these devices together and apply them to save the time of customer and checker was a good idea, but scores of progressive ideas in business are not patentable, and we conclude on the findings below that this one was not.
The patent involved in the present case belongs to this list of incredible patents which the Patent Office has spawned. The fact that a patent as flimsy and as spurious as this one has to be brought all the way to this Court to be declared invalid dramatically illustrates how far our patent system frequently departs from the constitutional standards which are supposed to govern.