October 4, 1965 Electronics
[Table of Contents]
Wax nostalgic about and learn from the history of early electronics.
See articles from Electronics,
published 1930 - 1988. All copyrights hereby acknowledged.
Just to remind you that patent laws are continually being monkeyed with by
lawmakers and challenged in court by litigants, here is a news item from a 1965
issue of Electronics magazine reporting on a Supreme Court case brought
by Hazeltine Research regarding their patent application for a microwave switch.
Evidently over time the Supreme Court had been raising the bar on patent filings
by requiring a higher degree of uniqueness for new inventions. The
1952 U.S. Patent Act, enacted by the U.S. Congress,
simplified the terms of claims for new patents, thus making them easier to
obtain, but according to critics, making new patents less valuable in the
process. Now (in 1965), the Supreme court was moving itself back to ward the
pre-1952 criteria. Judicial activism, anyone? In a related news item, the
military was in the process of relaxing penalties on contractors who did not file
for patent protection within the prescribed amount of time on project-related
Washington Newsletter - Patents
Court to Review Patent Standards
The Supreme Court which begins its fall term this morning, has agreed to
review a battery of cases concerning "standards of patentability" in inventions.
Patent lawyers think that a major tightening of the system may result. Before
the Congress passed the 1952 Patent Act, the court was beginning to demand a
high degree of invention over existing art to justify a patent; the question
now is whether Congress intended to reverse that trend and make patents easier
to get, but less valuable. At least four members of the present court have indicated
that they lean toward an interpretation of the law that would revert to the
pre-1952 stand; thus increasing the competitive value of a patent.
In one of the five cases before the court, the Patent Office argues that
lower courts apply a tax standard of invention which "seriously impairs efforts
to maintain a predominantly competitive economy, by creating countless unnecessary
and unwarranted monopolies."
One of the cases involves Hazeltine Research, Inc.'s application for a patent
on a microwave switch. The Patent Office rejected the application on the ground
that it wasn't a significant advance over prior art as represented by a co-pending
patent. A lower court reversed this ruling on the ground that Hazeltine wasn't
aware of the previous patent application and couldn't have taken that new development
into account. The company is a subsidiary of the Hazeltine Corp.
DOD to Relax Invention Rules
After hearing industry's objections, the Defense Department has decided to
relax its proposed penalties against companies that are slow to report inventions
made during government work. The department drew up tough regulations - and
asked industry to comment on them - after the General Accounting Office accused
several contractors of either failing to disclose inventions or delaying disclosure
for unreasonable periods.
A plan to assess damages of up to $5,000 for each day of failure to report
an invention beyond a six-month time limit is being dropped. Contractors had
objected on the ground that it is difficult to determine precisely when an invention
Still under study is a plan to stiffen the withholding of final contract
payments to the contractor. The Pentagon originally planned to change the present
withholding rate, which is 10% of the final payment up to a maximum of $10,000,
to 5% with no ceiling. Industry clamored for a ceiling, and one of between $10,000
and $50,000 is being considered.
The Pentagon still plans to require that contractors forfeit any rights in
patents they obtained on unreported inventions.
Posted October 14, 2018