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Patent Law Keyed to Adelman
In re Clay
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Clay's invention, assigned to Marathon Oil Company, was a process for storing refined liquid hydrocarbon in a storage tank having a dead volume between the tank bottom and outlet port. The process involved the preparation of a gelatin solution that, after being placed in the tank's dead volume, would gel and raise the level of the liquid to a certain point, usually the outlet port. The Patent Board rejected the patent as obvious in light of two earlier inventions. The first, Hetherington, altered the volume in the bottom of a tank with inflexible bladders, or large bags. The second, Sydansk, used a gel similar to Clay's invention that reduced the permeability of hydrocarbon-bearing formations. Clay argued that Sydansk's invention was too remote to be treated as prior art as it was not relevant enough to the technical area of the claimed invention. Clay appealed.
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