Homework 2/4 (KyleR)

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Obviousness analysis of patent 2,627,798: Clamp for vibrating shank plows


Reasons this patent is invalid because of obviousness:

  • The '798 patent yields no new function.
    • The object of '798 is to prevent damage to the plow when it is working in rocky ground (column 1, lines 16-27). This issue, however, was already addressed in Graham's '811 patent which claimed to "reduce or eliminate breakage of the ground working devices since they yield automatically under action of the springs when they strike immovable objects such as rocks or other obstructions" (column 6, lines 34-39). Therefore, the '798 patent does not introduce new knowledge and is merely an updated version of the '811 patent.
  • The only significant differences between the '798 and '811 patents are 1) the shank is bolted to the hinge plate in '798 and 2) the shank is located below, not above, the hinge plate in '798.
    1. The new bolted connection is neither novel nor nonobvious. A similar bolting technique is demonstrated in the Pfeifer patent (#2,014,451).
    2. Rearranging the relative locations of the shank and hinge plate does not pose a complicated design issue worthy of patentability. It would be obvious to someone skilled in the art of shank plow construction that locating the shank below the hinge plate so that it is not sandwiched between two components would improve the flexing qualities of the shank.



Reasons this patent is nonobvious and therefore valid:

  • Patent '798 provides improved shank plow performance compared to the '811 patent.
    • The shank is now secured to the hinge plate to improve plow control.
    • Modification of the shank placement makes the shank less susceptible to damage when working in rocky terrain.
  • A person of ordinary skill in the art would have no reason to rearrange the shank and hinge plate locations.
    • Differences in flex qualities are difficult to observe.
      • But, a small difference can have a large impact on performance.


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