TILGHMAN V. PROCTOR, 102 U. S. 707 (1880)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Tilghman v. Proctor, 102 U.S. 707 (1880)

Tilghman v. Proctor

102 U.S. 707


1. Letters patent for a process, irrespective of the particular mode or form of apparatus for carrying it into effect, are admissible under the patent laws of the United States.

2. To sustain such letters, the patentee should be the first and original inventor of the process and claim it in them. If the means of carrying it out are not obvious to ordinary mechanics skilled in the art, his specification should describe some mode of carrying it out which will produce a useful result.

3. A party who subsequently discovers a new mode of carrying out a patented process and obtains letters patent therefor is not entitled to use the process without the consent of the patentee thereof.

4. Mitchell v. Tilghman, 19 Wall. 287, reviewed and overruled, and the letters patent No. 11,768, granted Oct. 3, 1854, to Richard A. Tilghman and subsequently renewed and extended, relating to the manufacture of fat acids, sustained as letters for a process.

5. O'Reilly v. Morse, 15 How. 62, and Neilson v. Thompson, Web.P.C. 276, commented upon and explained.

This is a suit in equity brought by Richard A. Tilghman against William Proctor, James Gamble, W. A. Proctor, James N.

Page 102 U. S. 708

Gamble, and George H. Proctor, complaining of their infringement of letters patent No. 11,766, granted to him, bearing date Oct. 3, 1854, and subsequently renewed and extended, for a process for obtaining free fat acids and glycerine from fatty bodies. The answer denies the validity of the letters and the alleged infringement of them. On a final hearing upon the pleadings and proofs, the bill was dismissed, and he appealed. The case is fully stated in the opinion of the Court.

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