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November 18, 2012

Drill Bit

Transocean got patents on an oil drilling rig, particularly the drill bit. In the first appeal of its assertion against Maersk, the CAFC found that the patents were obvious in light of two references: "Horn and Lund teach every limitation of the asserted claims and provide a motivation to combine their respective teachings." But on the second appeal, the CAFC reversed itself, that the patents weren't obvious, because Transocean had commercial success.

Transocean Offshore Deepwater Drilling v. Maersk Drilling USA (CAFC 2011-1555) Judges Prost, Moore (author) and Wallach

The [district] court found that sales of Transocean's dual-activity rigs are "due primarily to various litigation[s]," and thus they "are not a result of a free market." J.A. 5-6. The court also found that, at the time Transocean's patents issued, the drilling industry was "fully aware of the possibilities of a dual string rig as prior art" and that Transocean's patent application on this technology had been rejected in Europe as lacking inventiveness. J.A. 5. Maersk contends that Transocean failed to tie its commercial success evidence to the claimed combination of two advancing stations with a pipe transfer assembly. Maersk also argues that unclaimed features of Transocean's rigs, such as increased size and capacity, are responsible for any commercial success.

District court ruling reversed.

In Odom v. Microsoft, commercial success was undisputed as coming from the claimed invention. In that case, the asserted patent was found obvious from a single reference (Kavalam), despite direct objective evidence that the prior art, a Microsoft patent, expressly taught a quite different feature. Further proof of non-obviousness, also undisputed, was that Microsoft did not think Kavalam disclosed the Odom claimed invention, as it filed a patent application claiming the same invention as Odom's four years after Odom. Numerous other cases of David v. Goliath went similarly.

The simple fact is that the CAFC is thoroughly corrupted by bias towards large American corporations. Maersk is out of Denmark. Transocean is a Houston Texas firm with deep political connections. So deep that Transocean evaded any responsibility for owning and operating the rig that caused the massive Gulf of Mexico oil spill a few years ago.

The U.S. courts, and thereby this country's patent system, are utterly corrupt. Rule of law in this country, as in Russia, is a polite fiction for a plutocratic regime that consistently plays favorites, and bends the law to suit. As Peruvian politician Óscar Benevides put it: "For my friends, anything. For my enemies, the law."

Posted by Patent Hawk at November 18, 2012 10:06 PM | Prior Art