LYON v. BAUSCH & LOMB, 224 F.2d 530 (1955)

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Situation

  • Lyon granted a patent on April 16, 1946 for the invention of a hard, non-scratch/smear coating of light-transmitting glass surfaces (binoculars, periscopes)
  • Bausch & Lomb challenge the validity of Lyon's patent
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit - on appeal from the Western District Court of NY

Outcome

  • The appellate court sustains the patent's validity.

Reasoning

  • The question: Was the invention disclosed in any earlier patent, or publicly used before Lyon filed the application on November 17, 1942?
    • The patented process: heat the optical surface in vacuum, vaporize and inorganic salt, while keeping the optical surface heated
    • No other patents disclosed the sequence, although a few were very close. Most of the close patents were sufficiently different so as not to serve as "anticipations"
      • One very close call: Cartwright and Turner - developed similar coatings, and even experimented with keeping the optical surface hot during coating - but in the end, Cartwright was "still uncertain" whether continued heating in the vacuum produced superior hardness
      • Thus, Cartwright was simply and experimenter (who failed) - which does not count as an "anticipation"
      • Court concluded that Cartwright did not put the process into public use and that he cannot be considered a prior inventor
      • Furthermore, Cartwright's failure in conduction the process shows that the invention was NOT obvious
  • A final question is whether Lyon had put the process into public use before being granted the patent - evidence shows that he did not.