HW due 1-28-11

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Patent Comparison

My chosen patent is a miniature underwater flashlight granted to Lite Tek in 1988. The exterior is made of a one piece case with a transparent end to allow light to pass through. The power switch is enabled through a twisting mechanism in the tail engaging the dry cell batteries. This switch is comprised of a plunger button apparatus which is seperated by a fluid tight diaphragm made of rubber lining the interior of the case. And a protective measure was taken by orienting the positive terminal of the batteries away from the head of the light, so in the event of a fall, the head assembly is less likely to be damaged. [[1]]

This patent is for an underwater flashlight granted to Giovanni Garofalo in 1982. The flashlight is in a one piece exterior case which has a transparent end that allows light to pass through and an threaded end which allows a end cap to screw in to hold dry cell batteries. If the batteries are held axially against the bulb, the circuit is closed and light appears. If the batteries are distant, the circuit is open and te light is off. A push button switch toward the end cap activates a cam rotation to axially engage the batteries. [[2]]

This patent is for a divers flashlight granted to Alan Kurt Uke In 1976. The flshlight has a one piece case with a transparent end for light to pass through, and a threaded end for an end to screw into, closing a cavity for batteries and also acts as a switch. This chamber is fully sealed, resulting in a water tight chamber. [[3]]

Hotchkiss v. Greenwood, 52 U.S. 11 (1850) Decision Effects

In the case of Hotchkiss v. Greenwood, the case dealt with nonobviousness with respect to impact of novelty on a patent. The case centered around a new method of producing a door knob out of clay, rather than metal or wood. An objection was brought against this individual recieving a patent for this method, under the basis that this is not a novel enough method. All of the components involved existed before and were part of the public domain. The new material and the process manipulating the new material have also long been part of the public domain. It was viewed by the court that there was combonation of previous known ideas was not enough to be deemed as novelbecause it seemed indistinguishable from the previou method, even though there was practical merit to new method. Skill and ingenuity were not deemed to have been employed for the invention required in this patent.

Under this statute in patent law, all three would not qualify as patentable . For all 3 patents, all the parts and material existed in public domain previously, and for the most part the main structure in each patent is the same: single piece case which holds dry cell batteries that power the light which passes through the end of the transperent lens at the end of the case. There is no novelty in the manner in which they are manufactured, so the most prominent differentiater for novelty would be the way they are activated. Both the underwater flashlight and the miniature waterproof flashlight are activated by a screw cap engaging the batteries to close a circuit for light production. The Court would see the method as known and obvious, and since they both have the feature, the invention in particular indistiguishable, thus unnovel. The diver's flashlight uses push button which is also an invalid attempt to use an addition of a well-known feature for novelty.

A&P Tea v. Supermarket Equipment (1950)

This case deals with a patent that was granted to a more efficient checkout for a grocery store clerk. The invention is truly a combination of things. As the patent holder sued for infringement, appeals took it to the Supreme court, where they decided that a combination of parts does not necessarily deserve patentship. A patent can only be give if there hs been an important advancement in science, raising the standard for inventions to earn a monopoly.

1. The most prominent features of the miniature waterproof flashlight are the rubber fluid tight diaphragm which lines the inside, and the backward orientation of the batteries. The court would not see novelty in adding rubber which isn't a revoultionary jump to make something water-resistant. Even though placing the batteries backward is practical from a reliability standpoint, the idea and ease of the alteration would not meet the standard. The invention does not contain enough ingenuity.

2. The most prominent feature of the underwater flashlight is the threaded end which as the screwing motion tightens the cap, the batteries engage the light to close a circuit. A screwing motion would not be seen as ingenious since it would be a logical idea push the batteries in a chamber which is already getting closed. No new method of manufacture or piece made for the invention to variegate the combination concludes a fruitless search for novelty.

3. The most prominent feature of the diver's flashlight is the push button which enables a cam to engage the batteries. Push buttons have existed before in the public domain. The shape of the cam is a frustro-conical shape, which is not a new design forcing a pin to translate, which results in no new pieces nor any new method of design, thus this combination of unnovel parts is unpatentable.

Lyon v. Bausch & Lomb (1955)

In 1955, the Lyon v. Bausch & Lomb case established that the addition of a small change that was not entirely obvious which produced something that satisfies a need is an invention and is the modern definition of nonobviousness today, now in 35 USC. 103. The case had to due with a method of applying metal to a glass surface, and the only perceptible difference in the previous method is preheating the glass beforehand. This step showed ingenuity, and a progressive and useful step for science.

Since this statute is the standard which all 3 of these patents adhered to, they all are patentable inventions. Each design builds on what came before it. In the 1976 patent, the divers flashlight had a screw threaded cap which not only locks out water but also activates the light. In the 1982 patent, the underwater flashlight also uses the screw cap, but activates the light with a push button instead, given a more useful on/off feature, as opposed to a certain pressure needs to exist for power in the previous design. In the the 1988 patent, the miniature waterproof flashlight employs the screw cap activation as in the underwater flashlight, but it innovates by flipping the batteries for more protection inherent in the design and added rubber fluid tight diaphragm to ensure more reliabilty. All of these patents were award for their innovation and satisfactionof a need, a better way to have light underwater.