135 US 227 St Germain v. Brunswick

135 U.S. 227

10 S.Ct. 822

34 L.Ed. 122


April 28, 1890.

[Statement of Case from pages 227-229 intentionally omitted]

M. A. Wheaton, for appellant.

Willard P. Butler, for appellee.

Mr. Chief Justice FULLER, after stating the facts as above, delivered the opinion of the court.


This case falls within the familiar rule that the application of an old process or machine or apparatus to a similar or


analogous subject, with no change in the manner of application, and no result substantially distinct in its nature, will not sustain a patent, alh ough the new form of result may not have before been contemplated. The ordinary cue-rack was made with the upper part perforated with holes to receive the small ends of the cues when put in the rack, and with a ledge or moulding along the front of the lower part, on which the cues stood, so as to prevent them from slipping off. The horizontal and straight upper and lower parts of the ordinary cue-rack were changed by complainant into two circular disks, called 'plates' in the specification, having the perforations and the rim secured to a vertical shaft, and each provided with a metallic pivot, entering into and revolving in a metallic socket, inserted in ordinary brackets attached to the wall or pillar or any other object, for the support of the rack. As the revolving rack held the cues in the same way and by the same means as the ordinary rack, if patentable novelty existed at all it must be found in making the racks revolve, when constructed and operating in the manner stated. But revolving contrivances, such as table casters and the like, for the reception and carriage of articles, so as to bring them easily within reach, were well known, and the application of such a contrivance to the holding and carrying of cues was but the application of an old device to a new and analogous use, with such changes only as would naturally be made to adapt it thereto. The making of the old cue-rack circular, putting in the revolving apparatus, and suspending it on brackets, a common use of the latter, involved mechanical skill simply, and not the exercise of invention, in the creation of a novel, substantive result. The state of the art, as shown by the prior patents for revolving dining tables and bottle casters, introduced on behalf of defendant, illustrates the correctness of this conclusion. These tables and casters were so arranged as to revolve about a common center, and bring around dishes and decanters in that way, as desired. The office performed was the same in respect to dishes and decanters as that performed by complainant's contrivance in respect to cues. The difference between revolving and stationary tables and casters and between revolving and station. ary cue-racks is the same. Those revolve, and these do not. We think that competent knowledge and skill in his calling on the part of an intelligent mechanic would have enabled him, on request, to construct the revolving billiard-cue rack in question, without calling the inventive faculty into play. The patent was void for want of novelty, and the decree is reversed, and the cause remanded, with a direction to dismiss the bill.