Mark J. Abate


Chief Judge Howard T. Markey left an everlasting mark on the meaning of obviousness under 35 U.S.C. § 103. Chief Judge Markey viewed all inventions as combinations of old elements because, in his own words, “Only God works from nothing. Man must work with old elements.” Chief Judge Markey’s obviousness jurisprudence can be characterized by three fundamental principles. First, he looked at an invention as a whole. Second, he looked for real world evidence of nonobviousness because it was a reliable indicator of obviousness. Third, he avoided the dangers of hindsight bias by looking for a reason to combine a given set of references at the time an invention was conceived of. These principles are entirely consistent with the Supreme Court’s recent decision in KSR Int’l Co. v. Teleflex Inc.