Double-Pointed Tack Co. v. Two Rivers Mfg. Co.
109 U.S. 117 (1883)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Double-Pointed Tack Co. v. Two Rivers Mfg. Co., 109 U.S. 117 (1883)

Double-Pointed Tack Company v. Two Rivers Manufacturing Company

Argued October 25, 1883

Decided November 5, 1883

109 U.S. 117

Syllabus

The first claim of letters patent No. 147,343, granted February 10, 1874, to the Double-Pointed Tack Company, as assignee of Porches Miles, the inventor,

Page 109 U. S. 118

for an "improvement in bail ears," namely,

"1. The compound staple fastening d for bails, made with the diagonally cut penetrating points 2 and 3, loop 4, and body 5, said diagonally cut points being positioned as set forth, so as to bend upwardly in driving into the wood, as set forth,"

does not, in view of what existed before in the art, set forth any patentable invention.

It was commonly known that the effect of a diagonal cut on a penetrating point was to force the point, in being driven, in a direction away from the cut. Double-pointed staples, with a diagonal cut on each point, but the diagonal cut on one point on the upper and outer side, and on the other point on the lower and outer side, as the staple was driven, were old, the effect in driving being to bring the points together, and there was nothing more than mechanical skill in putting the diagonal cuts on the same side of each leg, so as to incline both points, in driving, in the same direction.

The second claim of the patent, namely:

"2. The convex metallic washer e in combination with the compound bail-fastening staple d, having upwardly penetrating points 2, 3, and loop 4, as and for the purposes specified,"

does not set forth a patentable combination, but only an aggregation of parts. Neither the staple nor the washer affects or modifies the action of the other.

This is a suit in equity brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Eastern District of Wisconsin for the infringement of letters patent No. 147,343, granted February 10, 1874, to the plaintiff, the Double-pointed Tack Company, as assignees of Purches Miles, the inventor, for an "improvement in bail ears." The circuit court dismissed the bill, and the plaintiff has appealed to this Court.

The specification of the patent says:

"Wire staples have been employed to form the fastening eyes for bails, and these have been driven into the wood with the penetrating points nearly at right angles to the surface, and in use they are liable to pull out by the weight. My invention consists in a bail-fastening staple made of wire, with the penetrating ends cut at such an angle that, in driving them into the wood, they will assume an upward inclination, so that the weight will tend to force such points inwardly, rather than to draw them out, and the bending of the ends in clinching will always be upwardly, thus making a better and more reliable article than heretofore, and I combine with such fastening a convex metallic washer to keep the bail from contact with the wood or the paint thereon. In the drawing, Figure 1 is a section of the fastening, complete;

Page 109 U. S. 119

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"Figure 2 shows the compound staple fastening separately, and Figure 3 is an elevation of the washer. The wood work a represents part of a bail or tub, and the bail b is of wire, having eyes c at the ends, which are bent so as to stand parallel, or nearly so, to each other. The compound staple fastening d is made with the penetrating points 2, 3, loop, 4, for the eye c, and the body 5. The ends 2, 3, of the wire are cut diagonally, so that, in driving them into the wood, the tendency is to bend upwardly and clinch, and they will usually be long enough to pass through the wood and be clinched. The body of the fastening stands vertically, or nearly so, and will usually be partially embedded in the wood. The sheet metal washer e prevents the eye c coming against the wood. The points of the staple penetrate the wood upwardly, so as effectually to prevent the staple pulling out under the ordinary strain to which it is subjected."

The claims of the patent are these:

"1. The compound staple fastening d for bails, made with the diagonally cut penetrating points 2 and 3, loop 4, and body 5, said diagonally cut points being positioned as set forth, so as to bend upwardly in driving into the wood, as set forth."

"2. The convex metallic washer e, in combination with the compound bail fastening staple d, having upwardly penetrating points 2, 3, and loop 4, as and for the purposes specified."

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