Graham v. John Deere: Analysis concluding obviousness/nonobviousness, homework for 2/4/2011

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Conclusion of invalidity

Section 103 of the 1952 Patent Act states on the subject of nonobviousness in patentable subject matter: "A patent may not be obtained though the invention is not identically disclosed or described as set forth in section 102 of this title, 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. " The ‘798 patent does provide improved wear resistance over the ‘811 patent, but the improvements made in the ‘798 patent provide no unexpected outcome and would have been an obvious solution to a person of ordinary skill in the art who was familiar with the ‘811 patent and its practical wear problems. Other than the improved wear resistance, there are no major differences in the performance of the ‘811 patent and the ‘798 patent. Thus there are no nonobvious facets in the ‘798 patent.

Conclusion of validity

Though the improvements made to the design seem obvious in hindsight after viewing patent ‘798 , they were not obvious at the time the patent was filed. The arrangement placing the shank below the hinge plate is not disclosed in any of the prior art. This arrangement offers wear resistance and flexural advantages that the prior art failed to achieve. Since these valuable advantages were not achieved anywhere in the prior art, it is reasonable to conclude that the improvements made in the '798 patent are not obvious.