Common sense

There are a variety of views on what constitutes common sense.  Here are a few notable quotations:

“Le sens commun n’est pas si commun.” –Voltaire

“Common sense is very uncommon.” — Horace Greeley

“Common sense ain’t so common.” — Will Rogers

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” – Albert Einstein

“Common sense is what tells us the Earth is flat and the Sun goes around it.” — Anonymous

“The philosophy of one century is the common sense of the next.” – Henry Ward Beecher

“Science is nothing, but trained and organized common sense.” – Thomas H. Huxley

“Common sense is genius dressed in its working clothes.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Common sense is the genius of humanity.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

“The last time anybody made a list of the top hundred character attributes of New Yorkers, common sense snuck in at number 79.” – Douglas Adams

“Common sense is only a modification of talent. Genius is an exaltation of it. The difference is, therefore, in degree, not nature.” — Edward G. Bulwer-Lytton

“Common sense –Sound practical judgment; that degree of intelligence and reason, as exercised upon the relations of persons and things and the ordinary affairs of life, which is possessed by the generality of mankind, and which would suffice to direct the conduct and actions of the individual in a manner to agree with the behavior of ordinary persons.” — Black’s Law Dictionary


The Federal Circuit had an opportunity to expand upon the “common sense” issue recently in Perfect Web Technologies, Inc. v. INFOUSA, Inc.  One of the issues the Federal Circuit panel (Judges Linn, Dyk, and Prost) confronted was how does one determine common sense.  And, since this case was before the court on review of a summary judgment decision, is common sense a factual issue that, if disputed, is weighed in favor of the non-moving party?

The Federal Circuit looked to the parties to try to understand how common sense in the context of an obviousness determination under KSR v. Teleflex should be applied.  Here are a couple of interesting  sound bites from that discussion:  [Listen] and [Listen].

This oral argument also discussed the “tied to a machine” aspect of the Bilski test.  It was not necessary to address the 101 issues in the court’s opinion, however,  because the court affirmed the district court on the obviousness issues.

You can read the court’s opinion here: [Read].

You can download the entire oral argument here: [Listen/Download].

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