Analysis In Light of Hotchkiss v. Greenwood
In Hotchkiss v. Greenwood the case revolved around the issue of a patent given to a ceramic knob of particular design and installation. Specifically, it was argued that the patent was simply an adaption of other knobs made of other materials by multiple individuals around the country and as such, the item is not novel enough to be patented. In order to determine the patent's novelty the court gave a general definition of an invention's novelty declaring that if no more ingenuity and skill was necessary to construct the patented item or process in question than was possessed by an ordinary mechanic acquainted with the art, then the patent was void. The court goes on to state that "No one will pretend that a machine, made, in whole or in part, of materials better adapted to the purpose for which it is used than the materials of which the old one is constructed, and for that reason better and cheaper, can be distinguished from the old one, or, in the sense of the patent law, can entitle the manufacturer to a patent."
Analysis In Light of A.&P. Tea Co v. Supermarket Corp.
This case came before the Supreme Court with recent courts ruling in in favor of the validity of the patent in question. The reason's for this included that the invention presented a "decidedly novel feature and constitutes a new and useful combination" as well as its "evidence of commercial success." Yet the Supreme Court decided to reverse this previous decisions. Although the court acknowledges that "The concept of invention is inherently elusive when applied to combination of old elements", it cites precedent stating that "The conjunction or concert of known elements must contribute something; only when the whole in some way exceeds the sum of its parts is the accumulation of old devices patentable." In this case the court determines that the patent "is wanting in any unusual or surprising consequences from the unification of the elements here concerned" and decides that the patent is not valid. The court then goes on to say bothering to provide patents to such trivial "inventions" as presented in this case is missing the point of patent law. Patents are intended to be given to inventions that make distinctive contributions to scientific knowledge.
Analysis in Light of Lyon v. Bausch & Lomb
In Lyon v. Bausch & Lomb, the court makes its ruling in light of the recent passing of 35 USC 103 which focuses on the idea of nonobviousness. In his ruling Justice Hand goes on to expand upon the groundwork laid out in Hotchkiss v. Greenwood that an invention require more ingenuity and skill to construct than that possessed by an ordinary mechanic acquainted with the art in question. Hand notes that in this case, the most competent workers in the field had a long need for the patented invention. These same individuals had attempted to derive a similar invention but none were successful. And once the invention had been revealed, it "supplanted the existing practice and occupied substantially the entire field." As such, the invention was not "obvious to a person having ordinary skill in the art." It was these criteria that the court used to guide its verdict in this case.