Published 09/10/2021 by CIONCA IP TEAM (SE)
Technology has been a significant part of our lives for as long as we can remember. Most people don't realize how much technology is involved in many aspects of their lives; from the clothes they wear to the cars they drive. One aspect of life that is affected by technology is patent law. In this blog post, we will look at a Supreme Court case called KSR International Co. v Teleflex Inc., which explains what it means to have an idea and protect it with patents or copyrights.
KSR International Co. v Teleflex Inc. is a case involving when a patent has been infringed. Teleflex had multiple patents on adjustable pedals, a form of car control that causes a car to accelerate. In a lawsuit against KSR, Teleflex made claims that several KSR products and patents infringed on Teleflex's vehicle control patents.
In this case, KSR International cited that when they obtained their patent, it was for an "integral dual-diaphragm check valve." The invention converts pressure into forwarding movement when someone presses on the vehicle pedal in layman's terms. KSR also held that Teleflex had violated their patent by making and selling parts for vehicles that contained infringing designs (products whose main objective is to repair or maintain vehicle roadworthiness).
Teleflex responded, saying that KSR International did not disclose enough information about the dual diaphragm check valve, so they could not infringe on any patents. They also claimed that KSR's device was not the same as described in the patent and therefore did not infringe on it.
The district court sided with KSR, but the Court of Appeals reversed their decision and ruled in Teleflex's favor because there were several differences between how each company designed its pedals. Essentially, KSR argued that the decision to connect a pedal to an electronic throttle was so evident that the combination of elements could not be patented.
The decision from the Court of Appeals angered KSR International who said that even though they had made changes to improve previous designs, every change still fell under the scope of protection given by a patent. After this ruling, both companies appealed to higher courts about whether they violated claims by one another.
In a unanimous opinion from the Supreme Court, KSR was correct that Teleflex's patents would constrict the use of transparent acceleration processes in a vehicle.
In a 9-0 decision, the Supreme Court upheld an earlier ruling from the Federal Circuit that said Teleflex's patent application was ineligible for patent protection because it could not be both "substantially new" and "useful." The Supreme Court agreed that the decision to connect a pedal to an electronic throttle was too obvious to patent.
The court found insufficient distinctions in what the invention did to qualify as substantially new or valuable, and therefore Teleflex lost the court case. It just shows that some things cannot be patented, even if a company tries to protect its inventions or solutions.Top of Form
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed throughout this blog are the views and opinions of the individual author(s) and/or contributor(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of our firm, CIONCA IP Law. P.C.
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