Funk Brothers Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co.

333 U.S. 127, 68 S. Ct. 440, 92 L. Ed. 588, 76 U.S.P.Q. 280 (1948)

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Funk Brothers Seed Co. v. Kalo Inoculant Co.

United States Supreme Court
333 U.S. 127, 68 S. Ct. 440, 92 L. Ed. 588, 76 U.S.P.Q. 280 (1948)

Facts

The presence of Rhizobium bacteria in the roots of plants enable the plants to convert nitrogen from the air into organic nitrogenous compounds. However, there are at least six species of Rhizobium, and each species infects different types of plants. These differences exerted mutually inhibiting effects that reduced efficiency for farmers who grew multiple crops. Bond discovered strains of the bacteria that did not produce these effects, enabling use in mixed cultures of bacterial inoculants. A patent was issued for this discovery. In a later infringement action, the federal district court held that the patent was invalid due to the lack of a statutorily patentable invention. The court of appeals reversed. The case was then appealed to the United Supreme Court.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Douglas, J.)

Concurrence (Frankfurter, J.)

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