For each of the following, state whether it qualifies as a process, product, or neither.

Intellectual Property Arflin


Scenario #2 – Patents

1. For each of the following, state whether it qualifies as a process, product, or neither.

· Bicycle

· Technique for riding a bicycle

· Glue used to fix bicycle tires

· Newly discovered information about the history of the bicycle

· Special tire shaped to maximize speed, as determined by applying the laws of aerodynamics

· A manufacturing procedure used to make special bicycle tires

· An oven used for curing rubber, essential for the manufacturing procedure

· The rules of Tread, a new card game, modeled after the rules used in Tour de France.

2. Tinker’s barn is plagued with mice. Tinker has tried every mousetrap on the market, none of them helps. Tinker begins experimenting. She removes the part of one trap that fixes the mouse in place and replaces it with a small bell. The trap doesn’t kill the mice, but it drives them away in hordes.

Question: Can she patent her creation?

3. Meuse purchases motor oil for his model train set. He notices the oil is patented. While working in his wood working shop he runs out of the liquid he uses to condition his wood. Meuse rubs the motor oil in the wood and finds it works better that the liquids usually sold for that purpose. He wants to get a patent.

Question: Can he?

4. Poing, a jet manufacturer is troubled by several serious jet crashes. After spending lots of money to resolve the issue, he learns that snow geese, unknown to biologists, fly at extreme altitudes while migrating to take advantage of the jet stream. Poing realizes this new information is important to several industries from jet to satellites. He wants to patent his findings.

Question: Can he?

5. Farley’s Last Problem has perplexed mathematicians for decades. Before she retired from mathematics and disappeared, Farley wrote on the back of an envelope a challenge to prove a long-standing conjecture, together with some enigmatic hints. Although thousands tried, no one else proved the truth of the conjecture, before or after that time. Finally, after years of work in her attic, Trig sets forth an iron-clad proof of the conjecture.

Question: Can Trig patent her proof?

6. Ponce, a gerontologist, figures out how to genetically engineer humans to produce a human whose altered immune system adds years to the average lifespan. Ponce files his patent application on a “Longer Living Human Being.”

Questions: Is his invention within patentable subject matter? What if it were instead a longer-living guinea pig?

7. To fall within the subject matter of patents, an invention must be a process or product, not be excluded as an unpatentable law of nature, physical phenomenon, or abstract idea. Which of the following fall within the subject matter of patents?

· Astronomer, after studying reams of data from satellites, determines there is a large, unknown deposit of oil under Syracuse, N.Y.

· Driller devises a new method of extracting oil from under a city without disturbing the residents.

· In developing her new method, Driller finds that drill bits she makes out of titanium are the most effective. Titanium is a naturally occurring substance but has never been used for drill bits before.

· Biologist, trekking in the Rocky Mountains, encounters the Yodo bird, a species of bird never before recorded.

· Miner, while digging for gold in the Rockies, comes across a large deposit of a new mineral, kabloondium.

8. Little Powder Company has made and sold a special baking powder for many years. Unknown to Little Powder Company, the baking powder is highly resistant to radiation, which would make it useful in various applications such as construction of nuclear power plants. Zeus Chemical Company, after years of experimenting, develops a special construction powder that is identical to the baking powder. Zeus wants to patent the powder.

Question: Can he?

9. Inventor, a genius scientist and engineer, makes a number of breakthroughs and builds a transporter just like the one on Star Trek that transports people instantly from place to place. It even looks just like the transporter on Star Trek.

Question: So is it novel?

10. Orbut, in his spare time at the bike shop, invents a new mousetrap. His invention is an ingenius combination of sprockets, chains, mirrors, and wire. He tests the mousetrap over a period of months. It works – just not very well. The typical mousetrap from Home Depot is far cheaper and more effective.

Question: Does Orbur’s invention meet the utility requirement?

11. Inventor patents a new type of satellite. When Inventor sues Competitor for building an identical satellite, Competitor argues the patent is invalid for obviousness. The claimed invention is a combination of elements that already appear in various references in the relevant prior art. Nothing in the prior art suggests combining the references. But there is a very high level of skill in the relevant art of satellite engineering. Competitor argues that such a high skill level means that one skilled in the art would find any combination of references to be obvious.

Question: Should the court accept that argument?

12. Nick and Tony, plumbing engineers, have both signed agreements assigning patent rights in their work to their employer, Super Plumbing. Nick spends considerable effort trying to develop a soaperator. Although Nick makes great progress, he does not quite develop the desired invention. Tony, however, continues the quest, relying in part on Nick’s work. Tony finally develops a soaperator, “A Device for Aerating Water and Providing Soap for Hand Washing.”

Question: In deciding whether Tony’s invention was non-obvious, does Nick’s work count as prior art?

13. Teek develops a process for growing artificial diamonds. Teek files a patent application claiming the process. His application described every step in the process in detail. Using this description, those in the field can make artificial diamonds. Teek, however, omits the fact that he operates the process at sub-zero temperatures. As Teek knows, this makes use of the process much more profitable. The diamonds form more quickly and have fewer imperfections.

Question: Has Teek provided the requisite disclosure?

14. Jack obtains a U.S. patent on his invention, holographic game cards. Not long afterwards, Jill gets a copy of the patent. Jill runs advertisements in several hobbyist magazines and offers holographic game cards for sale. In the ads, Jill uses Jack’s written description from the patent. The holographic game cards that Jill offers to sell quite clearly fall within the claims of Jack’s patent. Jill receives hundreds of orders for the cards. She simply puts the money in the bank. Not only does she not ship any cards, she doesn’t even make any.

Jack sues Hill for patent infringement. She responds that she may be liable to her customers for breach of contract, but she has not infringed Jack’s patent. Even though she offered the invention for sale, she never used, made, or sold the invention. Rather, she simply ran an advertisement and banked the incoming money.

Question: Has Jill infringed the patent?

15. Rip receives a patent on her “Elbow-Operated Television Remote Control Device.” Rip then sticks the patent up in the attic and forgets about it. She makes no effort to commercialize the product. Ten years later, an engineer at Telly Products runs across Rips’s patent while researching another matter. The engineer shows it to his colleagues. A few weeks later, Telly ships several thousand units to electronics stores around the country. Rip happens to see one in a store and recognizes her invention. She soon files an infringement action.

Question: Can Telly raise the defense of laches against Rip?




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