Anderson's Black Rock, Inc. v. Pavement Co. SKH

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Supreme Court of the United States

  • District Ct says patent invalid, no infringement
  • Court of Appeals says no, it is valid, infringement
  • Supreme Ct says actually, no, it really is INVALID, no infringement

Petitioner: Anderson's Black Rock

Pavement Salvage says Anderson infringed on its patent

  • The District Court rejected respondent's claim of infringement, finding the patent invalid. The Court of Appeals, by a divided vote, reversed. Supreme Court reverse the judgment if the Court of Appeals.
  • The placement of a radiant-heat burner upon the side of a standard bituminous paver is the central feature of respondent's patent.
  • The burner, by itself, was not patentable. So, does the combination of old elements create a valid patent?
    • The combination was reasonably obvious to one with ordinary skill in the art.
  • The combination was argued to fill a long-felt want and commercial success, but that "without invention will not make patentability."
  • The combination of old elements performed a useful function, but it added nothing to the nature and quality of the radiant-heat burner already patented. Was not a patent due to the "non-obvious" standard.

Topic in question: Means for Treating Bituminous Pavement"

  • solve cold joint problem in laying layers of asphalt
  • radiant-heat burner for exposed layer, spreader for new layer, tamper for even surface.

Prior Art

  • could shape and spread only
    • Anderson's just put a radiant-heat burner on one of those
    • Pavement Salvage calls infringement
  • radiant-heat burner patented in 1905
    • burner itself not patentable
    • patent sought for placing burner on side of paver
      • serves new purpose of PREVENTING COLD JOINT, rather than patching as it had been used

US SC says INVALID patent, no infringement

  • each element known in prior art
  • so can combo of old elements warrant patent in this case?

Arguments for INVALID:

  • not here - just took 4 old things and put them on one chassis
  • no new or different function
  • good for commercialism, not invention
  • not greater than sum of individual effects
  • commercial success and filling want don't make patentability WITHOUT INVENTION - need invention!

Bottom line:

  • while the combination of old elements performed a useful function,[4] it added nothing to the nature and quality of the radiant-heat burner already patented.
  • those skilled in the art the use of the old elements in combination was not an invention by the obvious-nonobvious standard
  • Need more than just success - need invention