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Intellectual Property Litigation: Distinguishing Unexpected Results In Evaluating Non-Obviousness

July 12, 2023

Litigation partners Catherine Nyarady and Crystal Parker’s latest Intellectual Property Litigation column, “Distinguishing Unexpected Results In Evaluating Non-Obviousness,” appeared in the July 12 issue of the New York Law Journal. The authors discuss a recent decision in the Federal Circuit that addresses whether finding a purportedly unknown mecha­nism of action constitutes unexpected results supporting patent protection. In order to patent a new invention that builds on or combines previously known elements, the invention must not have been obvious to a person with ordinary skill in the art. This often involves determining whether the claimed invention provides unexpected results. The Federal Circuit’s decision in In re Couvaras held that “reciting the mechanism for known compounds to yield a known result cannot overcome a prima facie case of obviousness, even if the nature of that mechanism is unexpected.” The court also found that to establish unexpected results, a patent applicant needs to show that the combination of known elements provided an unexpected benefit.

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