Talk:Anderson's Black Rock, Inc. v. Pavement Co., 396 U.S. 57 (1969)

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Courtney

1969

Respondent brought this action for infringement of a patent for "Means for Treating Bituminous Pavement."

The District Court, finding that all the inventor had done was to construct known elements in the prior art on a single chassis, held the patent invalid. The Court of Appeals reversed.

The placement of the radiant-heat burner upon the side of a standard bituminous paver is the central feature of respondent's patent.

And so we reach the question whether the combination of the old elements created a valid combination patent.

The District Court said: "All that plaintiff [respondent] has done is to construct four elements known in the prior art on one chassis." That is relevant to commercial success, not to invention.

We conclude that the combination was reasonably obvious to one with ordinary skill in the art.

A combination of elements may result in an effect greater than the sum of the several effects taken separately. No such synergistic result is argued here. It is, however, fervently argued that the combination filled a long felt want, and has enjoyed commercial success. But those matters, "without invention, will not make patentability."

We conclude that, while the combination of old elements performed a useful function, [Footnote 4] it added nothing to the nature and quality of the radiant-heat burner already patented. We conclude further that to those skilled in the art the use of the old elements in combination was not an invention by the obvious-nonobvious standard. Use of the radiant-heat burner in this important field marked a successful venture. But, as noted, more than that is needed for invention.

Maura

The standard paving machine in use prior to respondent's claimed invention combined on one chassis the equipment for spreading and shaping the asphalt, and it is unquestioned that this combination alone does not result in a patentable invention.

The District Court said: "All that plaintiff [respondent] has done is to construct four elements known in the prior art on one chassis." That is relevant to commercial success, not to invention.

A combination of elements may result in an effect greater than the sum of the several effects taken separately. No such synergistic result is argued here. It is, however, fervently argued that the combination filled a long felt want, and has enjoyed commercial success. But those matters, "without invention, will not make patentability."

"Under § 103, the scope and content of the prior art are to be determined; differences between the prior art and the claims at issue are to be ascertained, and the level of ordinary skill in the pertinent art resolved."

We conclude that, while the combination of old elements performed a useful function, [Footnote 4] it added nothing to the nature and quality of the radiant-heat burner already patented. We conclude further that to those skilled in the art the use of the old elements in combination was not an invention by the obvious-nonobvious standard. Use of the radiant-heat burner in this important field marked a successful venture. But, as noted, more than that is needed for invention.