Relationship with Novelty (RCTA)

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Nonobviousness guarantees novelty, but novelty does not guarantee nonobviousness. The Hotchkiss Court introduced the notion of nonobviousness, and 35 USC 103 codified this idea. Meanwhile, 35 USC 102 describes the manners in which one might lose the right to patent something because the same invention exists elsewhere. 35 USC 102’s novelty criterion is comparatively straightforward. Presentations of documents or product models predating the claimed invention are enough to negate novelty. The PTO and the Court judge things as they were at the time of invention. Nonobviousness is much more ambiguous because the PTO and the Court must determine how things would have been at the time prior to the invention without reading the revelations of the patent into the past. That is, if circumstances were such that it would have been trivial to create the invention, then it is obvious. However, if the mix of everything from the literature to market forces to the state of seemingly unrelated fields was such that it would not have been a clear and simple matter to create the invention, then it is nonobvious.