KSR v. Teleflex
Teleflex Inc. sued the defendant KSR International, claiming that one of KSR's products infringed its patent on connecting an adjustable vehicle control pedal to an electronic throttle control. KSR argued that merely combining these two elements was obvious and therefore not patentable. KSR won at the district court level only to have the opinion overturned by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in January 2005.
Oral arguments were heard by the Supreme Court on November 28, 2006. The petitioner KSR was represented by James W. Dabney. Deputy solicitor general Thomas G. Hungar represented the government, which sided with the petitioner. Thomas C. Goldstein argued on behalf of the respondent Teleflex. EFF filed an amicus brief supporting KSR.
On April 30, 2007, the Supreme Court unanimously reversed the judgment of the Federal Circuit. The Court held that the disputed claim 4 of the patent was obvious and that in "rejecting the District Court’s rulings the Court of Appeals analyzed the issue in a narrow rigid manner inconsistent with §103 and our precedents." The Supreme Court disapproved the Federal Circuit's strict application of its "teaching-suggestion-motivation" (TSM) test, and therefore made it easier to invalidate patents as obvious.