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Cochrane v. Deener

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Citation Edit

Cochrane v. Deener, 94 U.S. 780 (1876) (full-text).

Factual Background Edit

This case concerned a patent for an improved method of manufacturing superfine flour.

U.S. Supreme Court Proceedings Edit

A process may be patentable, irrespective of the particular form of the instrumentalities used. If the patent is not confined to the particular instrument or machinery used to affect that object, the use of another instrument or machine to affect the object would be an infringement, the general process being the same.

A process is a mode of treatment of certain materials to produce a given result. It is an act, or a series of acts, performed upon the subject-matter to be transformed and reduced to a different state or thing.[1]

If new and useful, it is just as patentable as a piece of machinery. In the language of the patent law, it is an art.

The machinery pointed out as suitable to perform the process may or may not be new or patentable, whilst the process itself may be altogether new, and produce an entirely new result. The process requires that certain things should be done with certain substances, and in certain order; but the tools to be used in doing this may be of secondary consequence.

Discussion Edit

The Cochrane “test” was applied in a number of early program patentability cases to limit patentable processes to those which act to change specified materials into a different state or thing.

References Edit

  1. 94 U.S. at 788.

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