Tennant Case 6: US v. Adams (1966)

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This case concerns the invention of a nonrechargeable battery which provides a current without the use of acid. This feature, in addition to claims of a light weight relative to its capacity, aims to prove the novelty and utility of the battery. The Adams battery, as it was known, was the first practical, constant-potential battery which was activated by placing the components in water. Adams brought his battery to the attention of the U. S. military, who was not impressed and abandoned his concept due to concerns over its functionality. This was a short time after he filed for his patent. The patent was issued in 1943, the same year in which the military decided the design was feasible and contracted several battery manufacturers to produce it. The military had great success with the design, even saying that great advancements were made because of its use which otherwise would not have been possible. The government did not notify Adams of its change of heart, and refused to compensate him.

The government presented 24 pieces of evidence aimed at proving the Adams battery patent was invalid due to lack of novelty and nonobviousness. These articles strove to show that the materials comprising the anode and cathode of the battery were not new and had been used in batteries before. However, the battery patent claims novelty in the use of water as the electrolyte. The arguments presented by the government were inapplicable to the matter of the patentability of the battery. The battery was determined to be both new and nonobvious.