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Supreme Court Weighs the Meaning of ‘Obvious’

Publication Date: 
November 29, 2006
The New York Times
Linda Greenhouse

"The New York Times" quotes Lecturer Thomas C. Goldstein

When Mr. Goldstein noted that “every single major patent bar association in the country has filed on our side,” the chief justice interjected: “Well, which way does that cut? That just indicates that this is profitable for the patent bar.” And when Mr. Goldstein referred to experts who had testified that the Teleflex patent was not obvious, the chief justice asked: “Who do you get to be an expert to tell you something’s not obvious? I mean, the least insightful person you can find?”

“Invention isn’t at the end when you put the two things together,” Mr. Goldstein said. “Invention is finding the problem, deciding what pieces of the prior art to use, and deciding how to put them together.” He warned that there would be “genuine, dramatic instability” if the court disavowed the approach the Federal Circuit has used nearly since its creation in 1982.