Dsakamot 1/28/11 homework

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Patent References

This patent was based on three main patents. The first patent that is referenced is Patent no. 1335927 [1]: TROITSEBS-SUPPORT issued in Apr. 1920. The second patent that is referenced is Patent no. 4322585 [2]: Personal electronic listening system with an air and bone transducer mounted on the clothing collar that was issued on Mar. 30, 1982. The last main patent that is referenced is Patent no. 4589134 [3]: Personal sound system issued on May 13, 1986.

Patent 1335927 is a clothing article that improves the support of trousers by combining elements of both suspenders and a belt. In this invention, suspender straps over the shoulders are supported by a belt fastener. This would have a substantial improvement in holding up trousers over a belt or trousers and improve the appearance and comfort of whoever was wearing this invention.

Patent 4322585 is an electronic listening system that uses speakers connected to a portable audio device. In this invention, these speakers have pins that allow them to mount them in a position that is in close range to a person’s ears by attaching itself on the article of clothing the listener will wear. Furthermore, the pins seek to not only allow for mounting but to also provide electrical connection to the device.

Patent 4589314 is a wearable personal sound system. It involves a garment that contains pockets for both the speakers and the portable audio device in another pocket. Wires that are connected to the speakers and device are also relatively easy to attach and detach.

It is these three patents used in combination that served as the basis for the patent that I’ve selected.

Patent Evaluation Under Hotchkiss and A.&P.

If my patent were subjected to the analysis used in Hotchkiss v. Greenwood (1850) and A.&P .Tea Co. v. Supermarket Corp. (1950), it would’ve been rejected on the following reasons.

Reason 1: The invention would not have been considered novel

In Hotchkiss, another one of the claims of why the patent was invalid was because the plaintiffs couldn’t show the originality of their clay doorknob. This is very similar to the progression of my patent. Referencing the last two patents, the purpose of having a portable sound system with wearable speakers has the same intent of Patent 4764962. Because the later patent is claiming the same thing as the earlier patent, this would be unoriginal and unpatentable.

Reason 2: Ingenuity and skills of an ordinary mechanic

The key ruling that came from Hotchkiss was that the invention wasn’t patentable because “there was an absence of that degree of skill and ingenuity which constitute essential elements of every invention. In other words, the improvement is the work of the skillful mechanic, not that of the inventor.” The Supreme Court ruled that simply using clay for the material in a shape designed for a metal knob didn’t constitute patent protection because a mechanic of the field would’ve been able to do the same thing. This holds true for my patent. Using the components of all three patent references, it would be fairly simple of a person with ordinary skill in the field to make that invention thus making it invalid.

Reason 3: The whole must be greater than the sum of its parts

In A.&P., the Supreme Court ruled that “The conjunction or concert of known elements must contribute something: only when the whole in some way exceeds the sum of its parts is the accumulation of old devices patentable.” When looking at my patent, it appears that it doesn’t fit these criteria. When looking at those patents individually, suspenders, clips, and pockets for a portable audio device are found. Even after combining the three, it’s apparent that this combination hasn’t made a drastic improvement in the end product; it’s turns out just as expected.

Reason 4: It didn’t promote the “Progress of Science and useful Arts

In A.&.P., the concurring opinion in the Supreme Court stressed the need for an invention that would fulfill these goals. Some of these quotes include “Patents serve a higher end- the advancement of science.” Also, “It was never the object of those laws to grant a monopoly for every trifling device, every shadow of a shade of an idea, which would naturally and spontaneously occur to any skilled mechanic or operator in the ordinary progress of manufactures.” In other words, the invention needed to have an important purpose in order for it to be granted protection. Based on this definition, it is clear that my patent doesn’t make a distinctive contribution to the knowledge of science and other related fields and wouldn’t be granted patent protection.

Nonobviousness under Lyon

Before the case of Lyon v. Bausch & Lomb (1955), the Patent Act of 1952 was enacted. This piece of legislation sought to clarify some of the language from previous patent laws. More notably, however, it established the requirement of invention. In the Lyon case, Chapter 10, § 103 is cited which lists the conditions for patentability in non-obvious subject matter.

§ 103 reads:

“A patent may not be obtained… if the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains. Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made.”

In other words, an invention is patentable if its improvement is something that wasn’t apparently obvious to an ordinary person in a particular field. This judgment is affirmed in Lyon by stating in its decision that “the change had not been “obvious” to a person having ordinary skill in the art.”

From this case and the Patent Act of 1952, I conclude that my patent would indeed fit the nonobviousness requirement. While there had been many attempts to try and make a portable sound system that was wearable, no one had ever thought to use suspenders to help get the job done. By combining the patents of suspenders/belt, electrical clips and a garment that carried portable sound devices, it resulted in a new and useful creation that no one had previously thought to use of before.

Clearly, there has been a huge change in the standards of nonobviousness. The Supreme Court in the Lyon case even acknowledges the difference in stating that “had the case come up for decision within twenty, or perhaps, twenty-five years, before the Act of 1952…, it is almost certain that the claims would have been held invalid.” The change in nonobviousness comes from a change in language from the Hotchkiss case.

Before, an invention needed to display a difference that was greater than what an ordinary mechanic could display. The last line in the Patent Act of 1952, however, shows a change in this philosophy of thinking: “Patentability shall not be negatived by the manner in which the invention was made.” So long as the idea and change wasn’t obvious to an ordinary person, the skill level of the inventor or the process in which it was done does not matter.