Hotchkiss Knobs

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HOTCHKISS v. GREENWOOD

Background - USSC – 1850 – Hotchkiss = inventor, appealing, - Patent for making a knob out of clay - Hotchkiss sued defendant Greenwood for violating patent –pleaded not guilty

  • Claimed they weren’t the original inventors
  • Had been on sale in a variety of states and venues and foreign country prior to app date – had been made, mfrd, sold and used publicly

- Apparently patent was overturned and plaintiff wasn’t awarded any damages because it wasn’t novel and non-obvious

  • Shank existed
  • Knob existed
  • Method of linking two and making out of clay was not beyond the scope of a typical mechanic in the field


Nelson - Op of Court - Said the only thing new was the material – material change can’t be patented

  • Had example of machine being replaced in a few areas with new materials – can’t be considered a new machine

- Unless fastening the shank to knob of clay required more skill than the metal or wood situation, this did not produce a new and unique effect on the article - Judgment upheld


Woodbury - Dissent

➢ Doesn’t operate to really protect against unfair competition – usually guards against consumer confusion as to source
➢ FL law doesn’t really do this, it instead doles out patent rights to the utility and functionality of a non-patented product