Homework 2 (due Friday 28)~jnosal
The concept of the rightable catamaran can be conflicting in multiple ways. Inventors have been working to discover a way to easily right almost every capsized boat with an equally diverse range of techniques. The two more common techniques are manpower and pressurized air. Three of these patents have been cited in the rightable catamaran patent. One discusses an apparatus that uses compressed air to inflate flotation devices, which has been placed in a sunken vessel, to increase its buoyancy and raise it to the surface. A second deals with a trimaran vessel that retracts its outer pontoons to adjust its center of mass and allow it to right itself from a semi-submerged position. Finally the third cited patent involves a multi-hull vessel that uses an extended buoy for stabilization in order to shift the rotating axis of the capsized boat. This final concept is the most similar to the rightable catamaran technology and will be the most conflicting when dealing with the patentable qualities of the device.
The premise of the Hotchkiss case was focused on the patentability of a new material in place of an old material use in an old process as well as the patentability of a combination of features. Since there are no new materials used in the rightable catamaran, the combination of features will be the more relevant comparison when looking at the patent. It can be understood that the object or design being patented is the design or feature that allows for the catamaran to be righted without help from the pilot or outside force. In once sense this is a single idea that can easily be patentable but in another this design uses a lot of previously developed products to work together in combination to achieve the final result.
With regards to the single idea of righting the craft this multi-hulled approach that the rightable catamaran takes has already been used before. The specific tools and features are not the same but the design has been used previously so it can be argued that not a lot of creativity was needed to come up with a design to achieve an already obtained result. Although this may be an important argument to make it is also necessary to determine if the combination of old products to create the multi-hull system would be require a significant amount of innovative skill.
The rightable catamaran uses pressurized air and a series of compartments to shift intake water and then expel it after the catamaran has been righted. This design process does not require a stabilization buoy, which is a key component of the multi-hull self-rescuing system. Because the individual components are some one simple the question of creative skill required to come up with the invention is the deciding factor. As an engineer I have some experience dealing with technical concepts and understanding how certain devices work together to complete different tasks. Upon looking at this invention it was not initially obvious to me how the catamaran could be righted or how the listed devices could be used to shift water in such a manor to right the capsized vessel.
Based on the fact that the design is non-obvious in its nature and benefits society by providing a much safer and convenient type of catamaran that can be operated by any type of individual, it is fare to say that the Hotchkiss case justifies the rightable catamaran as still being a patentable product.
The A&P case focused mainly on the quality of innovation that was needed to develop a patentable product as well as the benefit to society that the product brings. Unlike the Hotchkiss case it is quite clear that based off the previous arguments the rightable catamaran will still be a patentable product.
Unlike the sliding tray in A&P the rightable catamaran adapts previous tools to work in a manor that they may not be familiarized with, such as in taking and expelling sea water. This is a perfect example of how the combination of muli-hull components is worth more together than if their values or added up separately. Basically it is not a standard case of 2+2=4.
Since it is quite clear that the design was non-obvious and a significant advancement from the previous non-righting pontoons of a standard catamaran the social benefit is important to evaluate. Even as an inexperienced sailor it can be understood that your risk of fatality while riding a rightable catamaran are far less out on the open ocean than in a standard catamaran, especially if you are a smaller individual who would be unable to use your own body weight to right the boat. It is also vastly more convenient to have an automated system that that is hands free while righting the boat. In many cases users will be required to drag their boat long distances to have it in a position to be rightable. This new feature brings this convenience to them, which is a priceless value.
Based off these two analyses it is clear that the rightable catamaran is a patentable product. It is important to understand that it is on the verge of crossing some lines that may limit future patentability but where it presently stands the level of innovation and social benefit grant for an acceptable patent to be given.