Brenner v. Manson (383 U.S. 519, 1966 Mar 21)

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[USEFUL] {1} Our starting point is the proposition, neither disputed nor disputable, that one may patent only that which is "useful". In Graham v. John Deere Co., ante, p. 383 U. S. 1 at 383 U. S. 5-10, we have reviewed the history of the requisites of patentability, and it need not be repeated here. Suffice it to say that the concept of utility has maintained a central place in all of our patent legislation, beginning with the first patent law in 1790 and culminating in the present law's provision ...

[USEFUL] {2} The basic quid pro quo contemplated by the Constitution and the Congress for granting a patent monopoly is the benefit derived by the public from an invention with substantial utility. Unless and until a process is refined and developed to this point - where specific benefit exists in currently available form - there is insufficient justification for permitting an applicant to engross what may prove to be a broad field. ... We find absolutely no warrant for the proposition that, although Congress intended that no patent be granted on a chemical compound whose sole "utility" consists of its potential role as an object of use-testing, a different set of rules was meant to apply to the process which yielded the unpatentable product.

[USEFUL] {3} This is not to say that we mean to disparage the importance of contributions to the fund of scientific information short of the invention of something "useful," or that we are blind to the prospect that what now seems without "use" may tomorrow command the grateful attention of the public. But a patent is not a hunting license. It is not a reward for the search, but compensation for its successful conclusion. "[A] patent system must be related to the world of commerce rather than to the realm of philosophy. . . .".


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