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Great A. & P. Tea Co. v. Supermarket Equipment Corp.

United States Supreme Court
340 U.S. 147, 71 S. Ct. 127, 95 L. Ed. 162, 1950 U.S. LEXIS 2604, 87 U.S.P.Q. 303 (1950)


Supermarket (plaintiff) was the assignee of a patent claiming a simple device that separated the grocery orders of distinct customers, a device that became widely used in the field, and Supermarket sued Great A. & P. (defendant) for infringement on that patent. At both the district court and the court of appeals, the validity of the patent claims was upheld, and the United States Supreme Court was tasked with determining if the claimed invention rose to the standard of a patentable invention. The district court held that, although each component of the device was already known, the invention as a whole was new and useful. The court of appeals, relying on the clearly erroneous standard, agreed and looked to the commercial success and long felt need of such a device. Great A&P appealed to the Supreme Court.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Jackson, J.)

Concurrence (Douglas, J.)

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