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My Selected US Patent

  • Assignment for Monday January 24
  • Patent number: 4542903 Hand-held apparatus
  • Company: Nintendo Co.
  • Inventors: Gunpei Yokoi, Kyoto and Satoru Okada, Osaka
  • Filing date: Dec 22, 1982
  • Issue date: Sep 24, 1985
  • Source: Google Patents


  • I chose this patent because I (like every other kid) loved Nintendo growing up. It was interesting to discover that Nintendo's design for a hand-held gaming system was much more advanced than the original Game Boy, created in 1989.

Evaluating my selected patent's unobviousness

Patent number: 4542903

  • The Nintendo patent for a hand-held game apparatus is the first of its kind. It is a foldable, hand-held device with two LCD screens, and controller buttons, that allows the user to play games. The only things that relate to the system are a tv game system (Patent number: 4034990) and an electronic digital watch with a folding computer keyboard (Patent number: 4120039). Although the Ninendo system contains parts of these two previous patents, it is so different that the new product is not merely a substitution of the old product. The original requirements for patents required utility and novelty. The case of Hotchkiss vs. Greenwood in 1850 decided that although the new knobs were better than the old ones, there was no innovation and the improvement was only because of the substitution of new material. Because this case used substitution as its basis for deciding the validity of the patent, it does not apply to the Nintendo patent.
  • The Nintendo system may be invalid for being a combination of the two existing patents because it contains some of the same features. The digital watch contains an LCD screen and a foldable computer keypad and the tv game system uses similar controls and game programming. A&P vs. Supermarket Corp reviewed the patentability of the combination of old items to form a new product. The court decided that if the combination performs a new function, then it is patentable. Although both game systems both allowed the user to play games, the portability of the hand-held device gave it a fairly different function. The court also required that the combination exceeds the sum of the parts. Althought the game system and the digital watch contained similar parts, the previous products could not play portable games. The court also decided that any combination or change of a current patent does not count as a new patent if the idea would naturally occur to any skilled mechanic. Because the Nintendo patent was filed seven years after patent for a tv game system, making the game hand-held was not easy or obvious to any skilled mechanic. Because the Nintendo system performs a different function, is not just a combination of existing parts and the idea did not naturally occur to a skilled mechanic, the court of A&P vs. Supermarket Corp would rule that the Nintendo patent is valid.
  • Lyon vs. Bausch & Lomb involved testing patentablility based on discolsure, abandonment, obviousness. Because detailed drawings and descriptions of both the body and programming of the Nintendo patent are included, it is assumed that full disclosure was given. Because Nintendo has made additional hand-held gaming systems, they have not abandoned their patent. It was also already shown that making a game portable was not obvious to the average mechanic.
  • Because the Nintendo patent was the first of its kind, there were no good prior patents to compare it to. Therefore, I will analyze to patents that occured after the selected patent. One patent for an invertible game submitted by Atari in 1989 (Patent number: 4969647) and another was for a hand-held system filed by Nintendo in 2004 (Application number: 10/837,650).
  • Hotchkiss vs. Greenwood based patentability on innovation and not being a simple substitution. The Atari game system containted a similar structure and function to the first Nintendo system. It also was not foldable, which made it worse than the Nintendo patent. The Atari system did, however, have the ability to play a game sideways, while using the controller inverted. Although this feature is not very practical, it is fairly innovative and could have some benefits. Therefore, this addition is not trivial and the patent is novel. Therefore, the court of Hotchkiss vs. Greenwood would find the Atari system patentable. The second Ninendo patent is for the Nintendo DS. It is very similar to the first Nintendo system and the only new feature is a touch screen that can be controlled by a stick. Although the touch screen game system is fairly innovative, the function is the same as Nintendo's old patent. The touch screen does not allow the user to perform any function it could not accomplish with buttons. Therefore, the court would find the second Nintendo patent invalid. There was no patent issue date for this second patent, and the lack of an new function could be a main reason.
  • A&P vs. Supermarket Corp decided that if a combination of existing items performed a new function, then it was patentable. The Atari game system could be inverted to play at different angles. This new function made it different enough from the first Nintendo system. Therefore the court would find the patent for the Atari system valid. Because the touch screen was already patented in 1989 (Patent number: 4821029), the second Nintendo patent was just a combination of two existing patents. The new design completes the same function in a different way, but not very innovative way. Therefore the court would find the 2004 patent invalid.
  • Lyon vs. Bausch & Lomb would mainly base the patentability on obviousness. The invertible Atari game was very innovative and would probably not be obvious to the average person in the field. Therefore, the court would find the patent valid. Using a touch screen to control a game is not obvious. It has been shown that the touch screen does not complete a new function, so it might not be needed. If the touchscreen is not needed, then it is not obvious to add it to a game system. Therefore, the court would not find the patent invalid for obviousness. It might however, find the patent invalid for other reasons like combination or lack of utility.

Jacob Marmolejo Grahsm Case Obviousness Analysis

  • Assignment for Feb 4
  • Evidence For Obviousness
  • The Graham patent is merely a combination of all the elements of the Glencoe patent. The Graham patent also performs the same function as the Glencoe patent and only replaced the stirrup with the heel of the hinge plate. The '811 varies with the '798 only by the position of the shank. Interchanging the shank and the hinge phase permits flex under stress for its entire length, which is a different feature than the prior art, but there is only a small change in flex. The only other effective place to attach the shank is below the hinge plate and run it though a bracket. Since it is more effective for the shank to be allowed to run the entire length of the shank, inverting the shank and the hinge plate is obvious. The free flexing shank was later considered a key feature, but it was not included in the application. Since it was not included, it may have been considered trivial, and therefore, obvious.
  • Evidence For Unobviousness
  • Interchanging the shank and the hinge phase permits flex under stress for its entire length, which is a different feature than the prior art. Although the flex change is small, it effectively absorbs the tremendous forces of the shock of the obstructions, and other patent designs have failed. Although the parts are combined from the Glencoe patent, it took effort and thought to allow it to run the entire length of the shank. After considering this feature, it may have been obvious to reverse the shank and the hinge plate. However, there was still work needed to develop this idea, which was not listed in the Glencoe patent. Although both patents were performing the same task, the Graham patent allowed constant contact of the underface fo the hinge plate. This allowed the device to absorb the forces better and made it more resistant to breaking than the prior art.