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Wall v. Leck (66 F. 552, 1895 Feb 04)

Decision Parameters

Decisions It Cites

    Neilson v. Harford [:UK:151 ER 1266, 1841]
    Le Roy v. Tatham [55 U.S. 14, 1852]
    Morton v. N.Y. Eye Infirmary [17 F. 879, 1862]

Decisions That Cite It

    Dennis v. Pitner [106 F.2d 142, 1939]

Rules & Quotes

[NATURE] {1} But in this connection we are brought back to the fact that appellants in their letters patent only pointed out the way be the use of a natural condition of nature's laws. They did not invent any new process, chemical or otherwise, whereby the force of nature was to be controlled. They invented no machine, apparatus, device, or process to exclude the actinic or other rays of light. ... An artificial force is a natural force, so transformed in character or energies by human power as to possess new capabilities of action. This transformation of a natural force into a force practically new involves a true inventive act.

[NATURE] {2} A mere naked principle, a law of nature, or property of matter cannot be patented. So long as the principle is a mere item of knowledge, and sometimes from its nature it must always remain such, no patent can be held valid, however brilliant and useful the discovery may be.

[NATURE, USEFUL] {3} In these and other kindred cases it will be noticed that the particular processes used to extract, modify, control, or concentrate the natural agencies constituted the invention. The invention was not in discovering them, but in applying them to useful objects.

[DISCOVERY] {4} A principle, considered as a natural physical force, is not the product of inventive skill. It is the common property of all mankind. It exists in nature independently of human effort, and can neither be diminished nor increased by human power. Man can discover and employ it, but his employment of it in the modes or through the instrumentalities by which it is applied in nature is a mere imitation of what every man is able to perceive and reproduce as well as he. All endeavors to confine it to himself are at once futile and unjust. It exists for all men, as well after his discovery as before. The laws necessarily recognize and protect this right, and do not permit any man to exclusively use the conditions which are the gifts of nature, simply because he was the first one to discover its value. Not until some new instrument or method is contrived for its direction towards ends which it cannot naturally accomplish does his creative genius manifest itself.

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