PL Homework 3 -- Due Friday, February 4
Analysis of Graham v. John Deere Concluding Nonobviousness
Graham's patent '798 should be ruled valid under Section 103 of the U.S. Code. The test of obviousness relies on the prior art to determine if the patent is obvious to "a person having ordinary skill in the art to which the subject matter pertains." In this case, the prior art was considered as two patents: Graham's previous patent '811 and Pfeifer's "Fastening Device" ('451).
First, it should be stated that an invention can be a combination of old or existing parts as long as it still meets the requirements of utility, novelty, and nonobviousness, as concluded in Lyon v. Bausch and Lomb (1955). Patent '798 is a combination of preexisting parts, many of which are found in Patent '811 and one of which is claimed in Patent '451. However, the utility of the new patent and the nonobvious nature of its advantages over old plows justify its validity.
There are two novel features of Patent '798 which make it valid because of their nonobviousness: (1) the stirrup which prevents wobbling or fish-tailing of the shank and workpiece, (2) the bolted connection of the shank and hinge plate to prevent wear on the upper plate attachment, and (3) the placement of the shank below the hinge plate which allows for the shank to bend along its full length (in '811, the hinge plate is below the shank and its rigidity prevents the shank from bowing downward when the workpiece is forced upward by rocks or dirt).
Analysis of Graham v. John Deere Concluding Invalidity
Section 103 of the U.S. Code states that a necessary feature of a valid patent is that it must be nonobvious to a person skilled in the art. The use of the word "nonobvious" instead of "invention" points the emphasis on an issued patent advancing the art. It also emphasizes that the patent be new within the art to advance it and not just be different within the art. Graham's Patent '798 does not accomplish this, and therefore is not valid.