In 1957, Robert Regis (plaintiff) filed a patent application for a novel improvement to a microwave switch. In 1959, Regis’s application was denied by the U.S. Patent Office as obvious in light of prior art. The patent office based its rejection on the disclosures of two existing patents that, when taken together, effectively disclosed the invention contained within Regis’s application. The first of the prior-art patents, the Carlson patent, was issued eight years before Regis filed his patent application and was indisputably part of the prior art. However, the second patent, the Wallace patent, was still pending at the time Regis filed his application, and the contents of the Wallace patent were not publicly available until 43 days after Regis’s application date. Regis responded with an appeal to the Patent Office Board of Appeals (POBA), claiming that the Wallace patent should not have been considered prior art, because the information contained in the application was not public and could not have been discovered prior to Regis’s application date. POBA affirmed the decision of the patent office, and Regis brought a claim in district court to override POBA’s decision. The district court agreed with POBA and dismissed the complaint. The court of appeals affirmed the district court decision, and Regis appealed the decision.