Sunday marked 10 years since the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in KSR International Co. v. Teleflex Inc., rejecting the test that was used by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, patent attorneys and district courts for determining if a patent is too obvious. This weeklong Law360 Expert Analysis series explores the decision’s effect on obviousness analysis and the patent landscape.
In the Patent Act of 1790, U.S. lawmakers struggled to provide a concise, objective standard of patentability, and it wasn’t until 30 years later that the U.S. Supreme Court first weighed in through dicta on the issue of “inventiveness” — or modern day “obviousness.” It remains a mystery whether or not the Supreme Court justices were aware of the rabbit hole they were entering. Since then, lawmakers have attempted to both understand and provide clear guidance when analyzing whether a potential invention is obvious. Unfortunately, efforts to define obviousness have often resulted in further confusion.
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John S. Artz (Member, Troy) and co-chairs the Intellectual Property Section of the Federal Bar Association for the Eastern District of Michigan. John may be reached at 248-433-7262. Franklin M. Smith (Associate, Troy) may be reached at 248-433-7393 and Russell F. Franks (IP Law Clerk, Troy) may be reached at 248-433-7574.