Packing Company Cases
105 U.S. 566

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U.S. Supreme Court

Packing Company Cases, 105 U.S. 566 (1881)

Packing Company Cases

105 U.S. 566


1. Reissued letters patent No. 6870, hearing date April 6, 1875, granted to William J. Wilson "for improvements in processes for preserving and packing cooked meat," are void, all the elements therein described being old, and the aggregation of them bringing out no new product, nor any old product, in a cheaper or otherwise more advantageous way.

2. The first and third claims of reissued letters patent No. 7923, bearing date Oct. 23, 1877, granted to John A. Wilson "for improvement in sheet-metal cases," are void for want of novelty.

THE first case is an appeal from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois, and the second and third are appeals from the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of Illinois.

By stipulation of the parties, these cases were argued together as one case.

The bills of complaint were filed by the Wilson Packing Company, Arthur A. Libbey, Archibald McNeil, and Charles P. Libbey, and they charge the Chicago Packing and Provision Company, the St. Louis Beef-Canning Company, and the other defendants with the infringement of several reissued letters patent of the United States, of which the complainants are the assignees and owners.

Only two of these letters are relied on. First, reissued letters patent No. 6370, granted to William J. Wilson, dated April 6, 1875, upon an application filed April 2, 1875, "for improvements in processes for preserving and packing cooked meat," and second, reissued letters patent No. 7923, granted to John A. Wilson, dated Oct. 23, 1877, upon an application filed Oct. 15, 1877, for "improvement in sheet-metal cases." The bills were dismissed on final hearing, and the complainants appealed.

The original patent of William J. Wilson bears dated March 31, 1874. The specification is as follows:

"Be it known that I, Wm. J. Wilson, of Chicago, in the County of Cook and State of Illinois, have invented certain new and useful

Page 105 U. S. 567

improvements in processes for preserving and packing cooked meats, and I do hereby declare that the following is a full, clear, and exact description thereof."

"The nature of my invention consists in a process for packing cooked meats for transportation in a compressed form, while heated with cooking, into an air-tight package so as to preserve the meat in its integrity and retain all the natural juices and nutritious qualities of the meat."

"In carrying out my invention, the meat is first cooked thoroughly at a temperature of 212

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