Graham v. John Deere (JWB Class)

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The Case

  • Graham suing John Deere for infringement
    • patent was for a mechanism to plow rocky soil
  • District Court in the 5th District said the patent was valid
    • Appellate Court in the 8th District Court it was invalid
  • Independent of secondary considerations (commercial success, unsolved needs, failure of others, etc.) ultimately did not matter – it was ruled obvious

Calmar v. Cook Chemical, Co.

  • “file wrapper” – when an applicant has an intentionally broad patent application, with the intention of reapplying once you know what the patent office shot down – you concede things to get your patent issued, you can’t later on argue things that are inconsistent with what you conceded
  • cans with pumps on the sides were difficult to package – wanted them to be integrated
  • invention: overcap attached to sprayer, keeps the pump protected and keeps it from leaking
    • distinction: combining thread and seal so the pump is clamped down
  • Courts ruled it was obvious in light of the engineering features it had
    • whether something is obvious or not should be an engineering consideration


“Under 103, the scope and content of the prior art are to be determined; differences between the prior art and the claims at issue are to be ascertained; and the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art resolved.”

  • Commercial success, unsolved needs, failure of others, etc., might be utilized to give light to the circumstances of obviousness or nonobviousness
  • Jefferson: getting a monopoly on an idea is not a natural right
    • observed that the nature of ideas is something you cannot control
  • Constitution and Code (up through 1952) had words like “inventiveness”, but the words were fought over
  • Last sentence of 103: patentability cannot be affected by the manner in which the invention comes about