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In re Lister

United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
583 F.3d 1307 (Fed. Cir. 2009)


Facts

Dr. Richard Lister (plaintiff) drafted a manuscript outlining a new method of playing golf. He obtained registration of the manuscript with the United States Copyright Office on July 18, 1994. The Copyright Office kept a copy of the manuscript on file and available for public inspection upon request. There were two databases available for searching for the manuscript. On August 5, 1996, Lister filed an application to patent the manuscript with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). Lister made an information disclosure statement (IDS) to the USPTO stating that the information contained in the databases available for searching the Copyright Office’s archives “comes directly from the Library of Congress.” The IDS contained no information—and the government did not provide any evidence at trial—with respect to specific dates the manuscript became available on the databases. Nor did the government present evidence with respect to the general practices of the databases with respect to cataloging information from the Copyright Office. The USPTO examiner rejected Lister’s application on novelty grounds, finding that the manuscript was a publicly accessible printed publication due to Lister’s registration with the Copyright Office. The Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences (Board) affirmed. Lister appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Prost, J.)

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