A. & P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Corp. (Robins)

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Supreme court

originally argued oct 18 1950

decided dec. 4 1950

rehearing denied jan 8 1951

invention: 3 sided frame that will move groceries to the checking clerka nd they will stay there until picked up by the customer.


Supreme court granted certiorari to see whether they applied correct criteria of invention. Held that they did not and the patent is invalid.

District court acknowledged all parts preciously known, however: the conception of a counter with an extension to receive a bottomless self-unloading tray with which to push the contents of the tray in front of the cashier was a decidedly novel feature and constitutes a new and useful combination.

Lower courst treated as an extention of the counter, thus it was an improvement. The supreme court disagreed. 1. it is not mentioned in the claims 2. if it was it is not an invention 3. if it were patented as an extension, it woul dbe invalid for overclaiming the invention by including old elements in the patent.

(this sounds like a paperwork issue....)

Court mentioned difficulty in patenting things built of old objects.

Mention that commercial success and room for want does not warrent patentability, it must be new.

The fact that it is not a new invention is also not a new fact in the case, because it is simply a different interpretation of the extension of the counter, which is not novel.

Decision Reversed.