Coon v. Wilson
113 U.S. 268 (1885)

Annotate this Case

U.S. Supreme Court

Coon v. Wilson, 113 U.S. 268 (1885)

Coon v. Wilson

Argued January 14-15, 1885

Decided January 26, 1885

113 U.S. 268

Syllabus

Reissued letters patent No. 8, 169, granted to Washington Wilson, as inventor, April 9, 1878, on an application therefor filed March 11, 1878, for an "improvement in collars" (the original patent, No. 197,807, having been granted to him December 4, 1877), are invalid as to claims 1 and 4.

The original patent described and claimed only a collar with short or sectional bands -- that is, a band along the lower edge of the collar, made in parts or sections and having a graduated curve. The reissued patent and claims 1 and 4 thereof were so framed as to cover a continuous band, with a graduated curve, but not in sections. The defendants' collars were brought into the market after the original patent was issued and before the reissue was applied for, and the reissue was obtained to cover those collars, and although it was applied for only a little over three months after the date of the original patent, there was no inadvertence or mistake, so far as the short or sectional bands were concerned, and it was sought merely to enlarge the claim. Claim 2 of the reissue was substantially the same as the single claim of the original patent, and claim 3 had, as an element, short bands. As the defendants' collars had a continuous band with a graduated curve, and not short or sectional bands, and did not infringe the claim of the original patent or claims 2 and 3 of the reissue, and claims 1 and 4 thereof were invalid, the bill was dismissed.

This was a suit in equity brought in May, 1878, in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Southern District of New York for the infringement of reissued letters patent No. 8, 169, granted to the plaintiff, Washington Wilson, as inventor, April 9, 1878, on an application therefor filed March 11, 1878, for an "improvement in collars," the original patent, No. 197,807, having been granted to him December 4, 1877. The specifications and claims of the original and reissued patents are as follows, the one after the other, and the parts of each which are not found in the other being in italic:

Page 113 U. S. 269

"Original"

"Be it known that I, Washington Wilson, of the City, county, and State of New York, have invented a new and improved collar, of which the following is a specification:"

"In the accompanying drawings, Fig. 1 represents a side elevation of my improved collar and Fig. 2 a perspective view of the same. Similar letters of reference indicate corresponding parts."

"This invention refers to an improved standing collar that retains all the advantages of the old-style curved band without the objection of springing the collar too far from the neck so as to come in contact with the coat and soil the collar. The collar also hugs the neck band in such a manner that the collar is prevented from overriding it, resulting in a more comfortable fit."

"The invention consists of a standing collar having sectional bands starting from center of collar or any other point between center and ends and continuing with a graduated curve to and beyond the ends of the collar."

"Referring to the drawing, A represents a standing collar of my improved construction, and B the short or sectional bands, which start from the center of collar or any other point between the center and ends and continue along the lower part of the same, with a graduated curve and increasing width to and beyond the ends of the collar, in the same manner as in ordinary bands."

"The bands B are made either to overlap the collar proper or the collar is made to overlap the bands, or one part of the bands laps over the collar ends, while the remaining part is overlapped by the collar, so as to obtain smoothly covered joints at both meeting ends of collar and sectional bands."

"The bead formed by the connection of collar and band may also be continued, if desired, along the lower edge of that part of the collar between the bands, and thereby a more ornamental appearance imparted to the same."

"The use of the short or sectional bands produces a saving of material as compared to the old style of continuous band, and furnishes a collar that hugs the neck band in superior manner without springing back so as to come in contact with the collar."

"Having thus described my invention, I claim as new and desire to secure by letters patent --"

"A collar A having sectional bands B starting from the center of the collar or any point between the center and ends thereof and continuing with a graduated curve to and beyond the ends of the same, substantially as described and shown, and for the purpose set forth."

"Reissue"

"Be it known that I, Washington Wilson, of the City, County, and State of New York, have invented a new and improved collar, of which the following is a specification:"

"In the accompanying drawings, Figure 1 represents a side elevation of my improved collar, and Fig. 2 a perspective view of the same. Similar letters of reference indicate corresponding parts."

"This invention refers to an improved standing collar that retains all the advantages of the old style curved band without the objection of springing the collar too far from the neck so as to come in contact with the coat and soil the collar. The collar also hugs the neck band in such a manner that the collar is prevented from overriding it, resulting in a more comfortable fit."

"The invention consists of a standing or other collar having curved and graduated bands that extend along the lower edge of the collar, either from the center of the collar or from any other point between center and ends, to and beyond the ends of the collar. The rear button hole is thrown into the top or body of the collar above the band or binding of the same."

"Referring to the drawings, A represents a standing or other collar of my improved construction and B the curved and graduated bands, which extend from the center of the collar or any other point between the center and ends and continue along the lower part of the top or body of the collar, with a graduated curve and increasing width, to and beyond the ends of the collar, the ends being curved in the same manner as in ordinary bands."

"The bands B are made either to overlap the collar proper, or the collar is made to overlap the bands, or one part of the bands laps over the collar ends, while the remaining part is overlapped by the collar so as to obtain smoothly covered joints at both meeting ends of collar and graduated bands."

"The bead or binding formed by the connection of collar and band may also be continued, if desired, along the lower edge of that part of the collar body between the bands, so as to connect the graduated bands and impart thereby a more ornamental appearance to the collar."

"The rear button hole a is arranged in the top or body of the collar, above the bead or binding at the lower edge of the same, which position of the button hole, in connection with the graduated bands, produces a collar that hugs the neck band in superior manner without springing back, so as to come in contact with the coat collar. The shorter graduated bands produce also a considerable saving of material as compared to the old style of continuous band, that extends at uniform width along the lower part of collar."

"Having thus described my invention, I claim as new and desire to secure by letters patent --"

"1. A collar provided with a band composed of the parts B B, curved and tapered or decreasingly graduated from the ends toward the middle, as shown and described."

"2. A collar having short or sectional bands, starting from the center of the collar or any point between the center and ends thereof and continuing with a graduated curve to and beyond the ends of the same, substantially as and for the purpose set forth."

"3. The combination, with a collar having short bands graduated on a curve and decreasingly toward the middle, of a band connecting bead or binding along the lower edge, as set forth."

"4. A collar having curved and graduated bands that extend along the top or body of the collar from the center or any other point between the center and ends thereof to and beyond the ends of the collar, and having the rear button hole placed above the band or binding into the top or body of the collar, substantially as shown and described."

The following are the drawings of the reissue, those of the original patent being the same, except that the button hole is not lettered in the original:

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The answer sets up, as defenses (1) that the reissue was obtained

Page 113 U. S. 273

for the purpose of covering a style or form of collar not intended to be covered by the original patent, the original covering a short or sectional band collar only, and the reissue being intended to cover a different style of band, subsequently adopted by the plaintiff, and not having been procured for the purpose of correcting a mistake in the claim of the original (2) that the plaintiff was not the original and first inventor of the thing patented (3) noninfringement.

The case was heard on pleadings and proofs, and a decision rendered, 6 F. 611, in favor of the plaintiff, on which an interlocutory decree was entered, January 8, 1881, adjudging the reissued patent to be valid and to have been infringed by the defendants by the manufacture and sale of four collars: Exhibit F, Delhi; Exhibit G, Orion; Exhibit H, Zenith, and Exhibit I, Spy, and awarding an account of profits and damages, to be taken by a master, and a perpetual injunction. On the report of the master, a final decree was entered July 28, 1881, in favor of the plaintiff, for $8,355.32, which included costs. The defendants appealed to this Court.

Page 113 U. S. 275

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