Court Rules for Inventor of Speedier Golf Game

     (CN) – A sports psychologist and avid golfer won a second shot at patenting a solution to what he called the “horrendously slow” pace of golf. The Federal Circuit revived his patent application for a method of play that lets golfers tee up throughout the game.

     Dr. Richard Lister called his idea the “T handicap,” and described it as the “unrestricted use of teeing the ball after the first shot, except in hazards and greens.”
     He claimed it would improve scores and reduce play time by about 30 percent.
     In July 2004, he detailed his version of the game in a document titled “Advanced Handicap Alternatives for Golf,” filed with the copyright office.
     Lister then filed a patent application in August 2006, not realizing that his copyright certification precluded his patent application, according to the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences.
     The board rejected the patent application, saying the information had been publicly accessible for more than a year as it sat at the copyright office.
     A three-judge appellate panel in Washington, D.C., disagreed.
     There is no evidence that the document was searchable at the copyright office for more than a year before the parent application, the appeals court ruled.
     The judges also rejected the board’s conclusion that the copyright document was publicly accessible. The government offered no evidence for the typical time it takes between copyright registration and inclusion into the search catalog or commercial databases Westlaw and Dialog.
     Without this information, the board can’t bar patentability, the court ruled.
     The court vacated the board’s findings and remanded.

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