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In re VerHoef

Contribution of “Essential Feature” By Another Bars Sole Inventorship Claim

In re VerHoef, __ F.3d __, 2018 WL 2050095 (Fed. Cir. May 3, 2018) (Newman, Mayer, LOURIE) (PTAB) (2 of 5 stars)

Fed Cir affirms § 102(f) rejection of utility application relating to a dog mobility harness. The Board properly determined that Mr. VerHoef was not the sole inventor of the claimed subject matter. The record established that a key feature of the invention—a figure-eight loop around the dog’s toes—was suggested by Mr. VerHoef’s veterinarian. Thus substantial evidence supported the Board’s determination that the veterinarian was a joint inventor with Mr. VerHoef. Porter, 155 U.S.P.Q. 280 (B.P.A.I. 1965), is both non-binding and not contradictory, as there was no dispute that the veterinarian, not Mr. VerHoef, had been the source of the key feature. No known case supports Mr. VerHoef’s theory that, when the veterinarian shared her idea with Mr. VerHoef, it became “emancipated” from her, and the opinion notes that the veterinarian had initially joined Mr. VerHoef’s application, and subsequently filed an application of her own.