Minerals Separation, Ltd. v. Hyde - 242 U.S. 261 (1916)
U.S. Supreme Court
Minerals Separation, Ltd. v. Hyde, 242 U.S. 261 (1916)
Minerals Separation, Limited v. Hyde
Argued October 27, 30, 31, 1916
Additional argument November 1, 1916
Decided December 11, 1916
242 U.S. 261
Patent No. 835120, issued November 6, 1906, to Henry Livingstone Sulman et al. for improvements in the concentration of ores by a process of oil flotation is valid as to Claims Nos. 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 12, but invalid as to Claims Nos. 9, 10 and 11. The process covered by the patent, as sustained, is simpler and more economical, and has proved more successful than the flotation processes relied on as anticipations; it accomplishes separation of metallic particles from ore pulp not through the buoyancy of oil alone, but largely also through the buoyancy of air bubbles introduced into the mixture of ore, water, and oil by means of an agitation differing in kind and degree from that previously employed, and it results
in a froth concentrate of peculiar constitution and stability. For these reasons, it is held to be a patentable invention.
It is persuasive evidence of invention that the process in suit came immediately into general use, and has largely replaced all earlier like processes without the aid of puffing or business exploitation.
The patentees planned the experiments, directed the investigations day by day, conducted them largely in person, and interpreted the results, and they cannot be denied the status of original discoverer on the ground that their employee made the analyses and observations which resulted immediately in the discovery. Agawam Company v. Jordan, 7 Wall. 583-603.
A patent for a process of ore concentration which, because of the varied character of the subject matter, necessarily requires preliminary tests by the user to apply it most successfully to the ores treated is not on that account invalid if the process is described in the claims with sufficient definiteness to guide those skilled in the art to a successful use of it.
The particularity and certainty of disclosure which the law requires in patents is not greater than is reasonable, having regard to their subject matter.
Any variation from the process disclosed in a patent must come within the claims of the patent to constitute an infringement.
214 F. 100 reversed.
The case is stated in the opinion. For the opinion of the district court, see 207 F. 956.