Stephenson v. Brooklyn Crosstown Railroad Co.
114 U.S. 149 (1885)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Stephenson v. Brooklyn Crosstown Railroad Co., 114 U.S. 149 (1885)

Stephenson v. Brooklyn Crosstown Railroad Company

Argued March 11, 1885

Decided March 23, 1885

114 U.S. 149

Syllabus

None of the separate elements of the devices described in the patent granted September 18, 1873, to John A. O'Haire and W. A. Jones, as assignees of John A. O'Haire for an improvement in operating car doors was new, nor was the combination new, nor was there any patentable invention in the contrivance described in the patent.

The device described in the patent granted March 30, 1876, to appellant for an

Page 114 U. S. 150

improvement in signaling devices for streetcars required no ingenuity, and cannot be called an invention.

The combination described and claimed in the patent granted September 7, 1875, to appellant for an improvement in streetcars is a mere aggregation of separate devices, each performing the function for which it is adapted when used separately, and the whole contributing no new result as the product of the joint use, and it is not a patentable invention.

John Stephenson, the appellant, was the plaintiff in the circuit court. He brought his bill to restrain the infringement by the Brooklyn Crosstown Railroad Company, the appellee, of three letters patent. The first was a patent dated September 16, 1873, granted to John A. O'Haire and W. A. Jones, as assignees of John A. O'Haire, the inventor, for "an improvement in operating car doors." The second, dated March 30, 1875, was granted to the appellant "for an improvement in signaling devices for streetcars." The third, dated September 7, 1875, was also granted to the appellant for an "improvement in streetcars," consisting in placing a mirror in the hood of an ordinary streetcar to enable the driver to see what was occurring in and behind the car.

The bill charged an infringement of each of these patents by the appellee in all of its cars.

The answer of the appellee denied infringement of any of the patents sued on; averred that all had been anticipated by specified American and foreign patents and by certain persons in this country, naming them; that none of the devices was patentable, and that the devices described in the second and third patents were in public use and on sale for more than two years prior to the application for letters patent therefor respectively.

Upon final hearing, the circuit court dismissed the bill, 14 F. 457, and the plaintiff appealed.

Page 114 U. S. 151

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