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In reference to the patent: US8060994

Please look at the following existing patent for a self-locking carabiner: https://www.google.co.in/patents/US5005266

In lieu of the same, is not the patent in instant case a mere improvement over the existing patent? How can it be deemed to be 'novel' and 'non-obvious'?

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Many if not most patents are improvements on existing technology. While US5005266 patents a particular method of self-locking carabiner, it by no means patents the general idea of self-locking carabiners or every possible mechanism. In this case, the new patent has a different method of locking closed the pivoting gate mechanism. It is pretty clearly different based on the figures as it uses a threaded barrel to lock the pivot. I'm not sure why you singled out US5005266 as prior art. US8060994 cites quite a few other patents too. The status of US8060994 as listed in the US Public Pair is: "Patent Expired Due to NonPayment of Maintenance Fees Under 37 CFR 1.362" as of 12-21-2015. So it isn't currently enforceable. It is possible there is yet some other prior art that keeps it from being enforced so that the assignee decided it wasn't worth paying maintenance fees. However, that is pure speculation on my part.

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