General. The following hypothetical examples teach this concept:
Hypothetical Example No. 1. Isaac discovers how to quantify the force of attraction between any two particles. The USPTO denies Isaac a patent on this discovery.
Hypothetical Example No. 2. Albert discovers that the energy contained in a particle is equal to the mass of the particle times the speed of light squared. The USPTO denies Albert a patent on this discovery.
Hypothetical Example No. 3. Henry discovers that the force of gravity can be used to improve the operation of a paper making machine if the machine is configured to use gravity in a new way. The USPTO issues a patent on the machine to Henry.
Hypothetical Example No. 4. Dorothea discovers a new physical theory of semiconductivity and uses the theory to invent new semiconductor devices and processes for manufacturing the devices. She attempts to claim the theory, the devices and the processes in a U.S. patent application. The USPTO rejects claims to the theory but allows claims to the devices and processes.
Hypothetical Example No. 5. Beulah discovers a shortcut method for division and uses that new knowledge to invent a calculating machine to operate according to the method. She attempts to claim the mathematical method and the machine in a U.S. patent application. The USPTO rejects claims to the abstract mathematical method but allows claims to the machine.
Case Law. The following examples from U.S. case law teach this concept:
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