Saturday, June 25, 2005

Group One v. Hallmark on obviousness (2005)

The litigation between Group One and Hallmark over US Patents 5,518,492 and 5,711,752 produced THREE visits to the CAFC. The claims of the patents concern a device, and a method, for curling ribbon. Within this, the dispute was about "stripping means" for separating the curled ribbon from a mechanical drive wheel means.

The pertinent obviousness issue in Group One v. Hallmark (2005) pertained to combining references which taught "stripping means" to references which taught all other elements of the claims in question. As the CAFC said: "The issue is whether there was a motivation to combine the Cerone or Watts patent with a stripping means."

Hallmark's expert asserted that one of ordinary skill when confronted with the problem of webs adhering to drive wheels would have been motivated to seek a conventional solution.

Group One's expert noted that others [including Hallmark employees] did not think to use a blower when faced with ribbon wrapping problems. Thus, although the problem was recognized in the art, the solution of an air blower was never suggested.

On the issue of the "nature of the problem," the 2005 court cited to Teleflex, 299 F.3d 1313 (CAFC 2002).

Group One [apparently a relatively small company] was represented by Baker & Botts in the 2005 appeal, and Hallmark by Fish & Richardson. The 2005 decision notes that Peter A. Sullivan of Hughes Hubbard and Reed was of counsel on the brief. Peter A. Sullivan is counsel of record on the amicus brief of Cisco, Microsoft, Hallmark, etc. Thus, the amicus brief before the Supreme Court in KSR v. Teleflex is by a lawyer who was on the losing side of a 2005 obviousness decision (Hallmark).


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