Laver v. Dennett
109 U.S. 90 (1883)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Laver v. Dennett, 109 U.S. 90 (1883)

Laver v. Dennett

Argued October 9, 1883

Decided October 29, 1883

109 U.S. 90

APPEAL FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE UNITED

STATES FOR THE DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

Syllabus

After many conversations, and after a draft agreement had been made, A, in 1870, in writing, granted to B a license to make, use, and sell, and vend to others to sell, an invention in defined districts. In 1873, B discovered that the agreement gave him no exclusive rights, which it was the purpose of both parties to have done. He notified A, and A at once offered to grant

such right for the original consideration. In November, 1873, B refused to

accept a new agreement and took steps to terminate the existing one. A thereupon sued B for royalties claimed to be earned under it. B filed a bill in equity claiming that there was a mistake in the agreement, and praying to have it cancelled and A restrained from prosecuting an action under it. Held that there was no mistake between the parties as to the agreement made; that the minds of the parties met, and an agreement was made, although the legal effect of it was different from what was intended; that A was not in default, and there was no ground for the relief prayed for.

Suit in equity to have an agreement respecting the transfer of an interest under a patent set aside and cancelled as made under a mistake, and all suits at law thereon stayed and enjoined. The facts are stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 109 U. S. 91

MR. JUSTICE MATTHEWS delivered the opinion of the Court.

This appeal is from a decree dismissing the complainant's bill, and the record discloses the following as the facts material to the determination of the controversy:

The appellees, in 1870, being British subjects, were owners of letters patent of the United States bearing date January 4, 1870, granted to one Dennett for the term of SEVENTEEN years from August 13, 1863, for an improvement in the construction of concrete arches for building. On November 2, 1870, they entered into a written contract with the appellant, an architect, then residing in Albany, New York, but at the time of filing this bill a citizen of California. By this contract, the appellees granted to the appellant, his executors, administrators, and assigns, during the residue of the unexpired term of the letters

Page 109 U. S. 92

patent, "full and free liberty, license, and authority to make, use, and sell, or vend to others to be sold," the said invention within the divisions of the United States, as thereinafter specified, or one or more of them, in the manner and according to the provisions and agreements thereinafter contained, and upon the payment of the sums of money as therein provided, and not otherwise. For the purposes of the license, the Territory of the United States was divided into four districts named A, B, C, and D, respectively, and a royalty of ten shillings sterling per square of one hundred square feet was to be paid for all work actually done under the patent, and which, from certain specified dates, it was agreed should amount to an annual minimum sum of

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