Sample Case Study on Graham v. John Deere Co. Patent Infringement

Graham v. John Deere Co. Patent Infringement

Graham v. John Deere Co. patent infringement case was heard in the United States Supreme Court in 1966. This case acted as a clarification of non-obviousness requirement of patent law in the United States as set in 35 U.S.C.103.

This case presented two consolidated appeals. The appeals dealt with similar issues and they originated from the same court. William T. Graham was a petitioner who was suing John Deree Co. for infringement of patent. Combination of different old mechanical elements was the invention on which the case was based.

The device made by these mechanical elements would work by absorbing shock from chisel plow’s shanks while plowing on rock soil. Thus, the invention would keep the plow from sustaining damage while plowing. Graham attached plow shanks to the spring clamps enhancing flexibility beneath the plow’s frame.

Graham applied for a patent of this clamp and he obtained U.S Patent 2,493,811 in 1950. The court referred to this patent as the 811 patent. Later after obtaining this patent, he made more improvements to the design of the clamp by placing a hinge plate under the shark of the plow instead of above the shark. This minimized outward motion of the plow shark from the hinge plate.


On the basis of these improvements, Graham applied for patent which he obtained in 1953. The patent was U.S. Patent 2,627,798. The court referred to it as 798 Patent. In the previous case, Graham’s patent was upheld in the United States Court of Appeals in the Fifth Circuit. However, the United States District Court for Western District of Missouri reversed this opinion. The court invalidated the patent and noted that no infringement had been made by John Deere Co on the patent.

The other actions were consolidated with Graham case. They were declaratory judgments that had been filed contemporaneously against the Cook Chemical company. Calmar produced hold-down sprayers. These included chemicals like insecticides and Colgate-Polmolive purchased them. Baxter I Scoggin Jr. who was an inventor applied for patent of the sprayer that was designed for the Cook Chemical company.

Colgate-Palmolive and Calmer sought a declaration of non-infringement and invalidity of this patent while Cook 8Chemical Company sought for action on the infringement basis. The District Court sustained the validity of patent which was affirmed in the Eighth Circuit.

It is apparent that validity of these patents is based on facts. However, the problems in the cases are the clarity of the statutory and constitutional provisions that cover inventions’ patentability.

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