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Supreme Court allows new evidence in patents case

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says federal judges can review unsubmitted patent evidence when inventors challenge their rejection by the Patent and Trademark Office.

Gilbert Hyatt asked for patents relating to a “computerized display system for processing image information” in 1995. They were rejected and he sued in federal court. But Hyatt offered judges evidence of the suitability of his application that he never showed to patent officials. Patent officials asked the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit to dismiss the case because Hyatt never showed them his evidence.

But Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in the unanimous decision on Wednesday there are “no evidentiary restrictions” beyond the normal ones in these cases. Courts, however, can consider whether inventors could have shown their new evidence to patent officials, he said.

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