Alberts v. Kappos

Summarized by:

  • Court: Intellectual Property Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Patents
  • Date Filed: 01-18-2013
  • Case #: 10-1727 (JEB)
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Boasberg
  • Full Text Opinion

If the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time the invention was made to a person having ordinary skill in the art, then the patent is obvious.

Opinion (Boasberg): Alberts filed a patent application for the invention of an adhesive free carpet-tile area-rug that could form convex shapes. In her application, Alberts disclosed several pieces of prior art, including eight pages of an Interface brand modular carpet tiles marketing publication. One of the photographs in that publication featured carpet-tiles arranged in a concave shape bearing a caption that claimed the tiles were “glue-free” and could be arranged in any shape, “limited only [by] your imagination.” Based in part on that and other photographs from the same publication, the Patent and Trademark Office rejected her application as obvious. After administrative exhaustion, Alberts appealed to the district court, where both she and the PTO moved for summary judgment. The court found that the only difference between the photograph in the Interface publication and Alberts’s claimed invention was the shape, which it determined would have been an obvious variation for an experienced area-rug designer. Accordingly, the district court GRANTED the Patent and Trademark Office’s motion for summary judgment.

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