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U.S. Supreme Court

Holland Furniture Co. v. Perkins Glue Co., 277 U.S. 245 (1928)

Holland Furniture Company v. Perkins Glue Company

No. 285

Argued March 14, 15, 1928

Decided May 14, 1928

288 U.S. 245


1. The narrowing by disclaimer of the process claims of a patent does not necessarily narrow the product claims. P. 277 U. S. 254.

2. A patentable process is a method of treatment of certain materials to produce a particular result or product. The description of the process does not necessarily embrace the product. Either or both may be patentable. P. 277 U. S. 255.

3. If the choice or designation of an essential ingredient of a composition of matter may be called a process, the process is one inseparable from the composition itself; the description of one necessarily limits the other, and the patent of the product cannot extend beyond a product having the designated ingredient. Id.

4. A patent for a composition of matter should contain some description of the ingredients entering into the composition which will both define the invention and carry it beyond the previous development of the art. P. 277 U. S. 254. chanroblesvirtualawlibrary

Page 277 U. S. 246

5. A patentee of a composition of matter, the product of a process, cannot, by claiming the use or function of the product, extend his monopoly over like products made with ingredients not described in his patent. P. 277 U. S. 257.

6. Respondent's patent (Perkins reissue, No. 13436, limited by disclaimers) includes claims, not here in dispute, for a process of making starch glue by treating with caustic alkali and water any starch in which the capacity to absorb water is limited by nature or by artificial "degeneration" to a degree specified in the patent, resulting in a glue as good as animal glue for wood veneering and similar uses. It also includes product claims of which three (Nos. 28, 30, and 31), forming the only subject matter of adjudication in the case, are construed a claiming, in substance, any starch glue which, combined with about three parts or less by weight of water, will have substantially the same properties as animal glue. The characteristic quality of animal glue is that, when combined with three parts or less by weight of water, it is suitable for use in wood veneering. Held that the claims are void, as they do not describe the starch ingredient in terms of its own physical or chemical properties or those of the product, but wholly in terms of the use or function of the product. P. 277 U. S. 256.

18 F.2d 387 reversed.

Certiorari, 275 U.S. 512, to a decree of the circuit court of appeals, reversing the district court and holding the present petitioner liable as an infringer of certain claims of the respondent's patent.

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