Homework 3 - ewolz
Conclusion of Obviousness
In reading patent 2493811, it is apparent that ample evidence exists to show that the changes made by Graham and proposed in 2627798 were obvious to a mechanic acquainted with the business and of ordinary ingenuity and skill. Both patents claim a "plow having a frame and a ground working device provided with a shank". The shanks for each plow are designed to make the ground working tool pump in order to work fine soil to the bottom to act as a seed bed and the course materials to the top for better mulch and moisture collection.
However, there are two main differences between the two patents which are the point of contention. In patent '811, Graham claims "a rod having pivotal connection with the fulcrum member and extending through an elongated opening in said shank and through a registering opening of the bracket to anchor the shank to said bracket" which "provides sufficient longitudinal relative movement between shank and fulcrum member to accommodate oscillation of the shank". In this case, the shank is on top of the shank attaching member. In the '798 patent, besides reversing the position of the shank and shank attaching member, Graham claims a "shank attaching member having depending means embracing the shank at the rear end" (stirrup) and "a bolt connecting the forward end of the plate portion".
Regardless of location, in both cases, the hinge plate attached to the shank provides a means to reduce damage when the plow comes across fields of rocks and other obstructions as it allows the shank to pass freely over the obstruction by rotating up. Graham states in '798 that with these changes, he has provided a "plow structure wherein the shanks of the ground working tools are attached to the plow frame in a manner to permit the desired rocking action of the plow shanks...without producing destructive strains on the plow frame". Preventing these damages from occurring involved moving the position of the shank away from the top of the hinge plate and attaching it to the problem.
To any skillful mechanic, this is an obvious and easy change. The damage caused to '811 models was due to the shank applying pressure upon the upper plate when the hinge plate was rotated down, thereby sandwiching the shank in between the upper and lower plate. To prevent this damage, there was only one logical way to prevent the shank from being sandwiched-it could either go on top of the upper plate or below the lower hinge plate. Because the upper plate is fixed, if the shank were to be attached atop it, it would lose its rotating motion and thus encounter the same problem the patent was originally trying to avoid (damage due to rocky fields). Thus, in order to prevent damage due to rocky fields and other obstructions, the shank would still have to rotate and would have to remain attached to the lower plate. The only other possible location is to attach it underneath the lower hinge plate. This shows that reversing the shank and the lower hinge plate is obvious to any mechanic skilled in the arts.
The last point of contention was the introduction of the stirrup and bolt which attached the shank to the lower hinge plate in '798. Prior art found in the "Glencoe clamp" (2739518) shows both of these objects already in use to attach a shank to the shank holder. From Figure 1 in the attached patent, article 29 is the "sleeve" (stirrup) the shank lies in while articles 31 and 32 are the bolt and hole used to attach the shank. Thus, the use of a stirrup and bolt in '798 is both non-novel and obvious.
As both of the differences separating '798 from '811 are obvious and unpatentable, '798 is invalidated.
Conclusion of Non-obviousness
Under 35 USC 101, "whoever invents or discovers any new and useful process...or any new and useful improvement thereof, may obtain a patent therefore". In Graham's patent '798, improvements have been made to previously plows allowing for the rocking motion of the plow shanks while at the same time preventing "destructive strains on the plow frame or excessive wear on the mounting parts". Though similar to the previous patent claim '811 where the shank is attached to a rotating hinge plate, the novelty doesn't come from the fact that the shank is simply in a different location. By moving the shank to the underside of the hinge plate, Graham has done more than just change the location of the shank. In doing so, he has also prevented damage to the upper plate common in the '811 design due to the wedging of the shank between upper and lower plate. Additionally, the shank is passed through a stirrup at one end of the lower hinge plate and bolted at the other. The bolt is left loose enough so that there is a slight "longitudinal movement", allowing the entire length of the shank to flex.
This improvement to the plows prevents damage to the entire system by preventing the shank from applying upward pressure on the upper plate, and is as patentable as measures taken to prevent damage to a plow due to rocky fields given sufficient ingenuity as shown above.