isfying the decree, would be to file the claim as settled. and participate in the funds; but as the defendants do not confess the infringement, or any of the matters alleged in the bill, to be true, except stated in the plea, the complainants can litigate their rights in this court, and the fact of an assignment made by the insolvent corporation to the defendant Hodge is no bar to the prosecution of their suit. I do not see how the insolvent law of the state of Minnesota can affect the proceeding to enforce the rights of a patentee against an infringer. If the defendants will admit the charge of infringement, and permit a decree to be entered settling the amount of the complainants' claim, there would be some force in the suggestion that the complainants must apply for payment under the laws of the state of Minnesota regulating assignments for the benefit of creditors. It is true that the complainants, if they were so disposed, could present their claim to the assignee and abide by his decision; but they are not compelled to do so, and no state law can deprive the complainants of the right to litigate disputed infringements of letters patent in this court. This is not an action involving contract rights between the parties thereto, but is a case arising under the patent-right laws of the United States, and the jurisdiction vested in the courts of the United Staies is exclusive of the courts of the state. Rev. St. § 711, p. 135. The plea is overruled.
McFARLAND and another v.
(Oircuit Oourt,8. D. New York. February, 1885.)
PATENTS FOR INVENTIONS-METAL TENON FOR BLIND-SLATS-PATENT
No. 76,491. patent No. 76,491, issued to William McFarland and John H. Campbell, April 7,1868, for a metal tenon for blind-slats, held valid, and infringed by defendants.
In Equity. Peter Van Antwerp, for complainants. Edward S. Clinch and E. T. Rice, for defendants. COXE, J. The complainants are the owners of letters patent No. 76.491, issued to William McFarland and John H. Campbell, April 7, 1868, for a metal tenon for blind-slats. The object of the invention is to provide tenons for blind-slats when the ,original tenons are broken off or injured so as to become inoperative. The following diagrams will serve to illustrate the invention:
l1'FARLAND V. SPENCER.
Fig. 1 represents the tenon applied and fitted to a blind-slat, and working in the mortise of the frame, in place of the one broken or reo moved; Fig. 2, the face view of the tenon, with escutcheon plate on it.. inner end; Fig. 3, the same reversed, showing the connection of the escutcheon plate to the tenon by means of a beveled shoulder. Tblt inventor declares in the specification that "heretofore the breaking off or the decay of a tenon has caused the entire loss of the slat, there being no means or device known, previous to my invention, whereby the tenon could be restored or repaired without incurring too much expense; and furthermore, the repair or restoration of a broken tenon is difficult· without the removal of one of the side-bars of the frame." The advantages of the invention 'are economy, simplicity, symmetry, and durability. It is much cheaper to use the metal tenon than to remove the slat. A person possessed of a pocket-knife and a very limited amount of mechanical skill can make the repair. Prior to the invention it was necessary to take down the blind, separate the frame, remove the broken slat, substitute the new slat, attach it to the hand-rod 'Which operates the series of slats, and readjust the frame. All this required time and skill, was expensive and inconvenient, and when the work was done it was found almost impossible to make the new slat correspond in color with the old ones. The device is an exceedingly simple and unpretending one,-so simple that, to one who sees it now, the wonder is that it did not occur to some one long before the date of the patent. But it never did. Criticism that an invention is so plain that it must be perceived by all, comes with poor grace from those who did not themselves perceive it.
The answer is confined to specific denials of the allegations of the complaint; no affirmative defense is pleaded. The defendants introduced in evidence a patent granted to George R. Clark, March 5, 1867, for an "improved metallic blind-slat, clasp, and pivot." It consists of a metal cap, carrying a tenon, which fits on the end of the slat. The merits claimed for it are that it prevents longitudinal splitting, and furnishes a pivot of great durability for the slat to turn on. Sliould a tenon become broken, the frame must necessarily be dis· membered, precisely as in the case of the wooden tenon, in order to repair it. The Clark device is wholly dissimilar that of the complainants. The defendants also, under objection, introduced testimony showing that in 1837 or 1838, 200 tenons were made, to fill a special order, out of 16-gauge strap-iron, the strap being bent so as to grasp the slat on both sides, and a pivot to swivel the slat being riveted to the bent end. These tenons could not be used for purposes of repair, except by taking the frame apart. It required mechanical skill to apply them, and they could be made only on special order, as it was necessary that they should exactly fIt the slat. The defendants also proved that between 1849 and 1851 the iron shutter of a building on Reade street, New York, was repaired with a tenon like the complainants'; also that in 1844 and 1846, in Germany, similar tenons were used in the original construction of iron shutters, and that for 300 years shutters so made had peen used in the tower of the church at Wittemberg, to the front door of which Martin Ln- . ther nailed his theses. It will be 'Seen that even had the defendants pleaded prior use, as required by section 4920 of the Revised Statutes, there is nothing in this testimony which anticipates the complainants' invention. There is no allegation that the inventor or other persons here had knowledge of the alleged prior use in Germany; but in any view the evidence is wholly inadequate to defeat the patent. As showing the state of the art, the testimony, though involved in obscurity and doubt, may be admissible, and, were the question one of infringement, such proof might require the narrow construction of a broad claim; but it is obvious that it cannot avail the defendants where they deal in the identical contrivance covered by the patent. No one, so far as the record shows, ever used. prior to the patent, a tenon like the complainants,' on wooden blind-slats, for the purposes of repair. This is what the invention covers. There should be a decree for the complainants for an injunction and an account, with costs.
Co. and others.
(Oircuit Oourt, E.
March 2, 1885.)
Letters patent No. 238,703, granted to Peter A. Mellon for an improvement in" metallic spring-beds," held void for want of novelty.
In Equity. Suit for the infringement of letters patent No. 238,703, granted to Peter H. Mellon for an improvement in metallic spring-beds. The improvement relates, as the specifications state, "to a spring-bed made entirely of metal, and it consists in duplicate iron frames, to which the bottoms and tops of the outer row of the double spiral springs are secured by wire; the inner rows of springs being connected to each other and to the outer row by means of open-wire links." The inventor claims as his invention "the combination in a spring-bed of the frames, A, AI, braces, D, and double spiral springs, C, connected to each other and to the frames substantially as and for the purpose set forth." W. 1\1. Eccles, for complainant. Finkelnbltrg, Rassieur c1; Dexter Tiffany, for defendants. TREAT, J. The several claims in plaintiff's patent are forthe combinations therein respectively named. As to some of such combinations, obviously there is no infringement. From the state of the art at the date of said patent, no novelty as to the alleged invention is discernible. The court can detect no exercise of inventive faculty wherefrom the mechanical arrangements named are patentable, within the purview of the patent law. There is no suggestion in the patent as to adjustability, and indeed the specifications show that the opposite was in the mind of the patentee. Soldering, welding, or the use of reversely screw-threaded couplings would make the connection of the two parts fixedly rigid. Such, also, would be the effect of a collar as in the patent described. The court, therefore, is of the opinion that the patent is void for want of novelty. Morris v. McMillin, 5 Sup. Ct. Rep. 218. Bill dismissed, with costs.
lReported by Benj. F. Rex, Esq., of the St. Louis bar.