Riester: 2/4/11 Homework

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The Case for the Nonobviousness of Graham '798

Plowing fields has been integral to the farming done by humans for nearly as long as they have farmed, and certainly, nearly as long as they have plowed, they have encountered rocky fields. Naturally, older plows were static structures that were inflexible upon contact with some rock or other obstacle. As such, many plows doubtlessly broke or were ruined for this reason. Thus it can be argued, because humans have been plowing for so long, and encountering these problems, any improvement in this field can hardly be considered obvious. Surely, this has been a problem people have sought to deal with the centuries without any reliable notion of how to do it. This is the greatest argument for the nonobviousness of Graham's '798 patent. As it has been said "Such secondary considerations as commercial success, long felt but unsolved needs, failure of others, etc., might be utilized to give light to the circumstances [383 U.S. 1, 18] surrounding the origin of the subject matter sought to be patented. As indicia of obviousness or nonobviousness, these inquiries may have relevancy." As in the case of Lyon v. Bausch & Lomb Optical Co 224 F.2d, 530, althought dubbed "secondary considerations" these can sometimes be a sufficient test for nonobviousness. Although changes in the '798 patent may seem minimal, the new design greatly steadies the shank, as well as reduces much of the wear in the previous design. Both these features and key to the robustness of any design. Although the invention is a combination of previously known elements, it is hardly a trivial one.

The Case for the Obviousness of Graham '798

Graham's '798 patent is a trivial combination of previously known elements that required no ingenuity or skill beyond that of an ordinary worker in the art at the time of the invention and is thus "obvious." Furthermore, the distinguishing characteristic of the new patent, the supposed "free flexing" ability was an afterthough mentioned only in trial and not in the original patent document, proving that it was not in the mind of the designer at the time of the invention. This goes to show it did not drive the design and was merely a lucky result. The benefits of the new design above the old one are similarly trivial and do not warrant a separate patent.


Graham '798: [1]
Graham '811: [2]
Pfeifer '451: [3]