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Lawther v. Hamilton (124 U.S. 1, 1888 Jan 09)

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[PROCESS, NOVEL] {1} If, as that court says and we think rightly says, the omission of the muller stones is a real improvement in the process of obtaining the oil from the flaxseed, if it produces more oil and better oil cakes, and it is new, and was not used before, why is it not patentable discovery?, and why is not such new method of obtaining the oil and making the oil cakes a process? There is no new machinery. The rollers are an old instrument, the mixing machinery is old, the hydraulic press is old; the only thing that is new is the mode of using and applying these old instrumentalities. And what is that but a new process? This process consists of a series of acts done to the flaxseed. It is a mode of treatment. The first part of the process is to crush the seeds between rollers. Perhaps, as this is the only breaking and crushing of the seed which is done, the rollers are required to be stronger than before; but if so, it is no less a process. ... The machinery and apparatus used by Lawther had all been used before. His only discovery was an improvement in the process. He found that by altogether omitting one of the steps of the former process -- the grinding and mixing under the muller stones -- and mixing in the mixing machine by means of steam, a great improvement was effected in the result. Why should it be doubted that such a discovery is patentable? It is highly useful, and it is shown by the evidence to have been the result of careful and long continued experiments and the application of much ingenuity. By the omission of the mullers, greater care may be necessary on the part of the workman in carrying on the operations, especially in watching the moistening and mixing process so as to produce the proper moisture and consistency of the mass before subjecting it to hydraulic pressure. But though it be true that the new process does require greater care, and even greater skill, on the part of the workman than was formerly required, this does not change its character as being that of a process, nor does it materially affect its utility.

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