Tennant Case 8: KSR International Co. v. Teleflex, Inc. (2007)

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Teleflex, Inc. holds the exclusive rights to the Engelgau's patent for an adjustable pedal assembly with electronic throttle control. The question was whether the use of an electronic sensor to monitor the position of a pedal and using it to manage the input of an engine was obvious or not. This ruling utilized the decisions reached in Graham v. John Deere to determine this. The Court of Appeals utilized a "teaching, suggesting, or motivation test" that declares a patent application to be obvious if possible combinations are implied by prior art, the nature of the problem, or a person with an ordinary knowledge in the art. The Supreme Court ruled on this case because a method contrary to the one outlined in Graham was used to determine patentability. This ruling builds on the decisions made in Adams. The Adams ruling showed that just because the parts used in a combination were known in prior art is not enough to prove obviousness. Indeed, if this were enough, the bar for determining patentability would be set impossibly high. The TSM rule is not in itself inconsistent with the Graham recommendations, but when it is used as a hard-and-fast rule instead of an insight or suggestion, then it in fact detracts from the purpose of patents. Claim 4 was found to be obvious, but the rest of the claims were undecided. The case was sent back to the CAFC for further judgment.