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  1. Patent 4,529,056: Mechanism for the spring-cushioning of a vehicle wheel
   * Date issued: July 16, 1985 
  1. This invention is an improved means to absorb and dampen shocks and vibrations for vehicle wheels similar to the rear wheel of a bicycle or motorcycle. It features a spring an dampener which connect from the wheel to the frame of the vehicle using an assemble of rods and revolute joints. This has an advantage over previous mechanisms as it does not place the fork under a bending moment and because it can be adjusted to alter the hardness of the damping. I chose this patent, as I am interested in the kinetics and solid mechanics of machine. Additionally, this patent seemed to have the right amount of complexity and similar products exist for it to be compared to. This patent can be found at:

Homework 2

ntroduction: Comparison of patents to Patent 4529056: Mechanism for the Spring-cushioning of a vehicle wheel Patent 4529056 Mechanism for the Spring-cushioning of a vehicle wheel is for a mechanics consisting of a series of links and revolute joints as well as a spring and damper designed to absorb shocks on the rear wheel of a two wheeled vehicle, such as a bicycle or motorcycle. This patent was filed in 1983, granted in 1985 and cites 4 other patents from 1976 to 1984. These patents also features devices to accomplish the same task and contain largely the same parts, but differ substantially in the manner in which they are arranged.

With regards to 4408674: Motorcycle drive wheel suspension system: While this patent shows a mechanism with the same type of system to damp vibrations and absorb shocks, there are several notable differences which would likely make the later patent valid, even when applying the standards of Hotchkiss v. Greenwood, 52 U.S. 11 (1850) and A. & P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Corp., 340 U.S. 147 (1950). Though both inventions features largely the same components, their arrangements are quite different. 4408674: Motorcycle drive wheel suspension system has a substantially more complex design than 4529056, as can clearly be seen from the accompanying diagrams. This makes it a significant improvement. 4408674 also makes reference early in the patent application to preventing the slacking of the sprocket as a result of shock, something 4529056 never does in the patent application. Although it may do this, it is not mentioned, and therefore it can be assumed that not only the construction, but also the function of the patents are different in nature. Additionally, 4529056 makes specific note that one of the key features of the design is that no linkage is placed under a heavy bending moment and notes that this is a significant improvement from previous designs. From the figures included in 4408674, it can be seen that the link numbered 22 (the back swinging fork) in all figures is placed under significant bending forces as a result of the weight of the rider and motorcycle. Additionally, 4529056 is adjustable in its spring pretension, allowing the user to quickly alter the damping characteristics, something which is lacking in 4408674. Because of the complex mechanics of 4408674, it would not be obvious to someone with ordinary skill to discern one patent from the other, as the kinematics are considerably different. Because of the addition of an adjusting mechanism, lessening of the bending moment on the back swinging fork and a mechanically much simpler deigns with many fewer parts, the novelty requirement is satisfied by 4529056

With regards to 3977697: Long Travel Rear Wheel Suspension System for Motorcycle: This patent shows a device that is far more similar to 4529056 than 4408674, meaning it would most likely not qualify as a valid patent under the standards imposed be Hotchkiss v. Greenwood, 52 U.S. 11 (1850) and A. & P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Corp., 340 U.S. 147 (1950). This patent features a much more simple design, with substantially fewer components than 4408674. While not as simple as 4529056, this makes it considerably more similar to 4529056. The method of mounting the device and its orientation on the bike are also considerably more similar to 4529056. It fixes to the vehicle in two points, one horizontal and another up and diagonal. Similar to 4529056, it is also adjustable, although in this patent it is stated that this is to facilitate its installation, but nevertheless, it can be used for the same purpose of adjusting damping. Furthermore, the configuration of 3977697 is such that a strong bending moment is not placed on the back swinging fork, which was listed by 4529056 as one of the major features distinguishing it from other previous patents. There is one factor which does differentiate between the two patents; 3977697 specifically states that its purpose if for motocross riding, where more ‘arc’ for the rear wheel is required, 7 -10 inches instead of the usual four due to the much more severe shocks and loading. The inventor of the patent credits this reason for his new design, where as nothing similar is mentioned in 4529056. Despite the differences in purpose, the function of both patents are similar enough that under Hotchkiss v. Greenwood, 52 U.S. 11 (1850) and A. & P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Corp., 340 U.S. 147 (1950) 4529056 would most likely not be considered ‘novel’ enough to warrant a patent. The similarities in the number of parts, the manner in which they are attached as well as the adjustable nature of each and the support of loads such that no strong bending moment develops, all take away from novelty. The transition from one into the other may be obvious to someone with ordinary skill in the art. However, kinematics are often difficult to visualize, so it would not be obvious to an ordinary person, but perhaps it would be to a skilled kinematician. For both of these patents to remain valid today, a change in the standards of patentability concerning nonobviousness must have changed in the past decades. Other than a general loosening of standards of nonobviousness, changes allowing ‘obviously’ devices could have been allowed provided that one showed a significant improvement in its functioning. This would be along the lines of Justice Woodbury’s dissenting opinion in the case Hotchkiss v. Greenwood, 52 U.S. 11 (1850), in which he argued that improvement alone justified the validity of a patent.