In Richard Ruiz and Foundation Anchoring Systems, Inc. v. A.B. Chance Company, No. 03-1333 (Fed. Cir. January 29, 2004), the federal circuit affirmed a district court's conclusion that Chance's '368 and '107 patents -- relating to screw anchors for stabilizing and supporting electrical transmission over towers legs -- were invalid under §103.
On appeal, Chance alleged as error the district court's findings under two of the Graham factors: (1) motivation to combine the prior art teachings, and (2) discounting Chance's evidence of secondary considerations. Chance argued that the district court utilized hindsight to find that a person of ordinary skill would have been motivated to combine the prior art teachings. The federal circuit disagreed, stating
This record shows that the district court did not use hindsight in its obviousness analysis, but properly found a motivation to combine because the two references address precisely the same problem of underpinning existing structural foundations. Moreover the record supports the district court's factual finding that Fuller's and Rupiper's work showed that screw anchors worked better than straight push piers.
The court emphasized that an "express written teaching in the art" to combine references was not required. Rather, motivation may come from "the nature of a problem to be solved, leading inventors to look to references relating to possible solutions to that problem."
Finally, the federal circuit affirmed the court's conclusion with respect to secondary considerations, finding no clear error in its analysis.
To view the full decision visit http://www.aplf.org/mailer/Issue177.doc
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