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Vandenberg v. Dairy Equip. Co. - 740 F.2d 1560 (Fed. Cir. 1984)


In determining the question of obviousness, inquiry should always be made into whatever objective evidence of nonobviousness there may be. The so-called "secondary considerations" can often prevent a court from slipping into an impermissible hindsight analysis.


Appellant was issued ‘575 patent in 1976; the patent involved a radial arm milk hose support used to support the hoses which connect the milk receiving pipe system to the milking apparatus attached to a cow in a dairy operation. In 1980, appellee designed a milk hose support system, patterned after ‘575 patent. Thereafter, appellant sued appellees for patent infringement. Appellee defended the suit by contending that appellant’s patent was invalid for obviousness. The district court agreed with the appellee, and ruled that ‘575 patent was invalid for obviousness under 35 U.S.C.S. § 103. Appellant challenged the decision of the district court.


Was ‘575 patent invalid for obviousness?




The court ruled that even though the lower court used improper terminology in its discussion, the lower court properly considered appropriate factors when it evaluated the obviousness of appellants' patent. It was evident from the lower court's opinion that its analysis was structured according to the requirements of recent patent cases. According to the court, the necessary factual determinations were made, and the lower court correctly made its determination of obviousness. The court posited that the prior art clearly taught and suggested the combination of all elements found in the '575 patent. As such, the court concluded that appellee had met its burden of persuasion and had rebutted the statutory presumption of validity that attached to two of the patent claims.

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