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Arkie Lures, Inc. v. Gene Larew Tackle, Inc. - 119 F.3d 953 (Fed. Cir. 1997)

Rule:

The Supreme Court has held that in determining obviousness under 35 U.S.C.S. § 103, four kinds of factual inquiries are conducted: (1) the scope and content of the prior art; (2) the differences between the prior art and the claimed invention; (3) the level of ordinary skill in the field of the invention; and (4) any objective indicia such as commercial success, long felt need, and copying.

Facts:

Defendant inventor, Gene Larew, combined the idea of a salt base with a plastic lure to create a salt-impregnated plastic lure, which he had patented. Plaintiff Arkie Lures subsequently replicated Larew’s combination and declined Larew’s offer for a license. Lures contended that Larew’s salty plastic lure was "not sufficiently different" from the prior art as to render it nonobvious. Plainatiff Arkie Lures then brought this declaratory judgment action. The district court granted Arkie Lures' motion for summary judgment of invalidity, concluding that Larew's invention was "not stufficiently different" from the prior art as to render it nonobvious. Larew sought appellate review.

Issue:

Was Larew’s salty plastic lure obvious under 35 U.S.C.S. § 103?

Answer:

No

Conclusion:

The appellate court held that Larew’s salty plastic lure was nonobvious, after making an inquiry into the (1) scope and content of the prior art; (2) differences between the prior art and the claimed invention; (3) the level of ordinary skill in the field of invention; and (4) any objective indicia such as commercial success, long felt need, and copying. The court found that no prior art showed or suggested the combination of a plastic lure with salt, and that experts had cautioned Larew against the combination. The court held that the fact that the combination was not viewed as technically feasible was evidence of nonobviousness. hHolding that the conclusion of obviousness was in error, the appellate court reversed the summary judgment and remanded to the district court for further proceedings.

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