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A. & P. TEA CO. V. SUPERMARKET CORP., 340 U. S. 147 (1950)

U.S. Supreme Court

A. & P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Corp., 340 U.S. 147 (1950)

Great Atlantic & Pacific Tea Co. v. Supermarket Equipment Corp.

No. 32

Argued October 18-19, 1950

Decided December 4, 1950

340 U.S. 147


Claims 4, 5 and 6 of the Turnham patent No. 2,242,408, for a cashier's counter and movable frame for "cash and carry" grocery stores, held invalid for want of invention. Pp. 340 U. S. 148-154.

(a) The extension of the counter alone was not sufficient to sustain the patent, unless, together with the other old elements, it made up a new combination patentable as such. Pp. 340 U. S. 149-150.

(b) The mere combination of a number of old parts or elements which, in combination, perform or produce no new or different function or operation than that theretofore performed or produced by them, is not patentable invention. P. 340 U. S. 151.

(c) This patentee has added nothing to the total stock of knowledge, but has merely brought together segments of prior art and claims them in congregation as a monopoly. P. 340 U. S. 153.

(d) Commercial success, without invention, does not make patentability. P. 340 U. S. 153.

(e) The concurrence of the two courts below in holding the patent claims valid does not preclude this Court from overruling them where, as in this case, a standard of invention appears to have been used that is less exacting than that required where a combination is made up entirely of old components. Pp. 340 U. S. 153-154.

179 F.2d 636 reversed.

The District Court sustained the validity of certain patent claims. 78 F.Supp. 388. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 179 F.2d 636. This Court granted certiorari. 339 U.S. 947. Reversed, p. 340 U. S. 154.

Page 340 U. S. 148

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