716.05 Skepticism of Experts [R-08.2012]

“Expressions of disbelief by experts constitute strong evidence of nonobviousness.” Environmental Designs, Ltd. v. Union Oil Co. of Cal., 713 F.2d 693, 698, 218 USPQ 865, 869 (Fed. Cir. 1983) (citing United States v. Adams, 383 U.S. 39, 52, 148 USPQ 479, 483-484 (1966)) (The patented process converted all the sulfur compounds in a certain effluent gas stream to hydrogen sulfide, and thereafter treated the resulting effluent for removal of hydrogen sulfide. Before learning of the patented process, chemical experts, aware of earlier failed efforts to reduce the sulfur content of effluent gas streams, were of the opinion that reducing sulfur compounds to hydrogen sulfide would not adequately solve the problem.).

“The skepticism of an expert, expressed before these inventors proved him wrong, is entitled to fair evidentiary weight, . . . as are the five to six years of research that preceded the claimed invention.” In re Dow Chemical Co., 837 F.2d 469, 5 USPQ2d 1529 (Fed. Cir. 1988); Burlington Industries Inc. v. Quigg, 822 F.2d 1581, 3 USPQ2d 1436 (Fed. Cir. 1987) (testimony that the invention met with initial incredulity and skepticism of experts was sufficient to rebut the prima facie case of obviousness based on the prior art).