Juicy Whip, Inc. v Orange Bang, Inc.
185 F.3d 1364 (Fed. Cir. 1999)

  • Juicy Whip obtained a patent on a drink dispenser that made it look like the customer was getting fresh juice out of a appetizing-looking clear tank on the counter, but in reality they were getting juice out of a second tank hidden below the counter.
    • Juicy Whip claimed that this made it easier to keep the juice free from bacteria and contaminants and that improved public health.
  • Orange Bang began using a similar dispense to attract customers. Juicy Whip sued for infringement.
    • Orange Bang argued that Juicy Whip's patent was invalid because it did not meet the standard of utility under 35 U.S.C. 101.
      • Since the dispenser was "intended to deceive the customer" it didn't meet the standard for moral utility. (as opposed to practical utility).
  • The Trial Court found for Orange Bang and invalidated the patent. Juicy Whip appealed.
    • The Trial Court found that the invention lacked utility because its purpose was to increase sales by deception.
      • The Court found that the invention only improved on the prior art by increasing sales. Therefore it confers no benefit to the public and doesn't deserve patent protection.
  • The Appellate Court reversed.
    • The Appellate Court looked to 101 and found that an invention is useful if it is capable of providing some identifiable benefit.
    • The Court found that there are lots of 'useful' products that are imitations of other things (like cubic zirconium). So the fact that the Juicy Whip invention imitates fresh juice doesn't mean that it isn't useful.
    • The Court found that there was no basis for holding that an invention was unpatentable for lack of utility simply because it has the capacity to fool some members of the public.
      • The Court noted that Juicy Whip's drink machine was perfectly legal, and if Congress didn't like it, they were free to change the law. However, it was not the job of the USPTO to displace the police powers of the States and promote the health, order, peace, and welfare of the community.
  • The patent system is not a regulatory body, it only gives you the right to exclude others. It is for other agencies to determine if the invention can be legally marketed.
    • For example, even if you can get a patent on a drug, you can't sell the drug until you get approval by FDA.