Dann v. Johnston


DOCKET NO.: 74-1033
DECIDED BY: Burger Court (1975-1981)

CITATION: 425 US 219 (1976)
ARGUED: Dec 09, 1975
DECIDED: Mar 31, 1976

Howard E. Shapiro – for petitioner
Morton C. Jacobs – for respondent

Facts of the case


Media for Dann v. Johnston

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument – December 09, 1975 in Dann v. Johnston

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement – March 31, 1976 in Dann v. Johnston

Warren E. Burger:

The judgment and opinion of the Court in No. 74-1033 Dann, the Commissioner of Patents against Johnston will be announced by Mr. Justice Marshall.

Thurgood Marshall:

This case is here on writ of certiorari to the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals.

The respondent developed a machine system for automatic record keeping of bank checks and deposits.

Under that, the system, checks and deposits are labeled by the Customs with code categories which are read and then processed by data processes such as programmable electronic digital computer having data storage files and a control system.

The system allows the bank to furnish customers with an individualized and categorized breakdown of their transactions with appropriate subtotals for the periods involved.

The Court of Customs and Patent Appeals held the respondent’s system to be patentable, be reversed.

Title 35 of United States Code Section 103 mandates that a patent not be given when the differences between the subject matter sought to be patented and the prior art are such that the subject matter as a whole would have been obvious at the time of the invention was made, to a person having ordinary skill in the art to which said subject matter pertains.

We hold that under this standard, respondent system was obvious and hence unpatentable.

Warren E. Burger:

Mr. Justice Blackman and Mr. Justice Stevens took no part in the consideration of the case that Mr. Justice Marshall has just announced.

Thank you, Mr. Justice Marshall.