A verdict on KSR International Co v Teleflex Inc – previously reported on IP Review Online – had been hotly anticipated by industry leaders, many of whom will be pleased with its clarification on obviousness. The text is now likely to influence the future conduct of patent litigation on the subject.
The Justices had been required to determine whether Teleflex’s patent for an electronic throttle pedal, which combined elements from prior innovations, was obvious. KSR had brought the case after the patent had exposed it to a lawsuit.
Overturning a 2005 Court of Appeals decision, the Justices ruled unanimously that KSR had ‘provided convincing evidence’ of the patent’s obviousness, declaring: ‘as progress beginning from higher levels of achievement is expected in the normal course, the results of ordinary innovation are not the subject of exclusive rights under the patent laws.’
In a press release of the same day, Steve Elmendorf of the US lobby group, Coalition for Patent Fairness, said: ‘The Supreme Court has taken a high number of patent cases recently – a sign that the Justices recognise the need to inject more common sense and balance into the patent system.
‘[This ruling is] the latest in a string of recent decisions where the court has strongly rejected the arguments of those who oppose any strengthening of the current system. Legal scholars and economists have long argued that modernising the patent system will benefit consumers, inventors and the economy.’