Homework 2/4 (John Gallagher)

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Argument For Patentability (for non-obviousness)

Graham's invention of a clamp for vibrating shank plows qualifies for a patent under 35 U.S.C 103, that is to say, it is non obvious. In a prior patent, 2,493,811 ('811), Graham disclose the invention of a mounting for a vibrating plow which shared some similar features. The '811 patent describes a mounting for a plow shank which allows the pivot upward if the shank encounters enough resistance in the ground. This allows the shank to move upward instead of breaking. The shank was placed atop the hinge plate, but not rigidly attached to it, being held in place instead by the spring rod. The arrangement caused the shank to wobble because it was not firmly attached to the hinge plate. In this set up, the shank also caused wear of the upper plate. In this new invention, Graham has eliminated both these problems by placing the shank below the hinge plate, using bolts to rigidly attach it to the hinge plate. The problems in the '811 arrangement were significant, and no others had been able to solve them. Therefore, there was a 'long-felt unmet need' in the industry for this product, and it took several years to find a suitable solution, the solution could not be considered obvious. Graham's latest invention, then, qualifies for a patent under section 103.

Argument Against Patentability (for obviousness)

Graham's latest invention does not meet the standard of non-obviousness required under section 103. The design is an improvement on his previous invention, the clamp for vibrating shanks. That arrangement had several flaws which this design fixes by mounting the shank below the hinge plate and attaching it rigidly to that plate. In this new arrangement, there are no new elements however. It uses all the elements which were present in the previous invention, but places them more advantageously. Further, no unexpected results result from this arrangement. Therefore, this new arrangement could have be designed not by an inventor, but by anyone with the knowledge and skill of a mechanical engineer, and that person could have predicted the improvements that would result. This new innovation of Graham's then, while useful and novel, does not qualify for a patent, because it is obvious under the standards laid out in section 103.