Homework 2 - Analysis of my Patent for Non-obviousness - Due 1/28

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Description of my patent and pertinent referenced patents

The patent under analysis here [1] was invented in order to measure the accumulated forces acting on various items of sporting protective gear over a period of time. The device is fixed to the gear, an example of which, a football helmet, will be used in this analysis, either during manufacturing or at a later date. The device senses forces which are applied to the helmet and then delivers a proportional signal to a circuit which determines the accumulated force on the helmet. The circuit is also capable of decrementing the accumulated force based on a predetermined pattern in order to reflect the recovery of the user during times where less force is applied to the helmet. In the patent application for the device, the inventor references some instances of prior art, two of which have been selected as the most suitable for the purposes of a non-obvious analysis.

The first related patent which was filed before the current device is an “apparatus for determining levels of physical loads” [2]. This apparatus, when combined with a previously patented “electronic ergometer” can be attached to various parts of an individual who is performing any type of movement. The ergometer interprets the physical loads based on the amplitude of oscillations of the body and the present device interprets the level of the physical loads as related to the predetermined minimum, optimal, and maximum physical loads for the individual. The primary purpose of this device, as stated by the inventor, is to help individuals maintain the suggested level of physical activity that will improve his or her health. The inventor cites specific individuals, such as those at high risk for cardiovascular disease, for whom the device is most suited. The author of this patent application never specifically indicates what “physical loads” are measured, but the purpose of the device leads one to believe work is the primary physical property being measured and analyzed.

The second referenced patent, also filed previous to the device presently under analysis, is an “analyzer for resultant force at joints” [3]. This device can be externally attached to an orthopedic joint in a human or animal in order to determine the resultant force on that joint. A pair or cursors, attached to the joint as well as to two potentiometers can be used in junction with standard x-ray technology to measure the relative force values from potential signals at specific points on the joint which are then stored in an attached computer for further manipulation and analysis. While methods to analyze the resultant force on a joint existed prior to the application for this patent, the inventor claims to have greatly improved upon them with a device that is not intrusive, is relatively inexpensive, and can be operated by any person. The author offers no other possible adaptations for this device apart from measuring the resultant forces on joints, particularly recently replaced artificial joints.

The purpose of this analysis is to discuss the evolution of standards of non-obviousness and apply to the patent in question here to determine if the invention would be patentable under the different standards in the three cases: Hotchkiss, A&P, and Lyon. The concept of non-obviousness has been a factor in determining the validity of patents for sometime but was only recently codified with specific standards, as used in the Lyon case. The previous two cases demonstrate the standards of the court at the time of the case, which has evolved over time.

Analysis with Regards to Hotchkiss v. Greenwood