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Dennis v. Pitner (106 F.2d 142, 1939 Nov 06)

Decision Parameters

Decisions It Cites

    Le Roy v. Tatham [55 U.S. 14, 1852]
    O'Reilly v. Morse [56 U.S. 15, 1853]
    Mortion v. N.Y. Eye Infirmary [17 F. 879, 1862]
    Tilghman v. Proctor [102 U.S. 707, 1880]
    Telephone Cases [126 U.S. 1, 1888]
    Wall v. Leck [66 F. 552, 1895]

Decisions That Cite It

Rules & Quotes

[NOVEL] {1} Emphasis must be placed upon the words "invented or discovered" — "new and useful" — "art, machine, manufacture, or composition of matter". It is true that an old substance with newly discovered qualities possessed those qualities before the discovery was made. But it is a refinement of distinction both illogical and unjustifiable and destructive of the laudable object of the statute to award a patent to one who puts old ingredient A with old ingredient B and produces a cure for ailment C, and deny patent protection to one who discovers that a simple and unadulterated or unmodified root or herb or a chemical has ingredients or health-giving qualities, hitherto unknown and unforeseen. ... A discovery in the field of science of a new quality or phenomenon of an old product may be (other necessary facts such as being first, timely application, etc., existing) the proper subject of a patent. It does not fall within the term "law of nature" as that expression is used in patent law.

{2} Each of said discoveries necessitated the co-acting of two or more things. The insecticide needed the breath of the insect upon which the powdered cube root could act before it became an effective insecticide. The copper and iron mixture needed contact with the human blood before a change in red corpuscle count occurred. Seldom is there any discovery of a new phenomenon of an old chemical product that does not call for the old product's contact with a material to which it must be applied by human agencies before the phenomenon occurs. In all such cases the discoverer is well outside of the rule which excludes the issuance of patents to those who have merely discovered a law or principle of nature or fundamental truth.

{3} Dealing with actualities as they exist to-day, it is apparent that most of the outstanding discoveries are in the field of pure science, chemistry and electricity. Industries founded thereon, or health promoted thereby, result. "Machines" or "composition of matter" are designed and constructed to make the scientific discovery a commercial success. Absurd and illogical is an interpretation of the statute which gives patent protection to the instrumentality used in the distribution of the discovery and yet deny to the discovery itself the reward which the Congress intended to grant to those who serve man through enriching discoveries or through the birth of an invention.

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