Smith & Griggs Mfg. Co. v. Sprague - 123 U.S. 249 (1887)


U.S. Supreme Court

Smith & Griggs Mfg. Co. v. Sprague, 123 U.S. 249 (1887)

Smith & Griggs Manufacturing Company v. Sprague

Argued October 24, 1887

Decided November 14, 1887

123 U.S. 249

Syllabus

The use of his own invention by an inventor for the purpose of testing the machine in order by experiment to devise additional menus for perfecting the success of its operation is not a public use under Rev.Stat. § 4886, and if a profit is derived from the sale of the product of its operation, merely as incident to such use, the character of the use is not thereby changed; but if the use is mainly for the purpose of trade and profit, the experimenting being incidental only, and it is public, and is continued for a period of more than two years prior to the application for a patent for the invention, it comes within the prohibition of that statute.

When it is clearly established that there was a public use of an invention by the inventor for more than two years prior to his application for a patent for it, the burden is on him to slow by convincing proof that the use was not a public use in the sense of the statute, but that it was for the purpose of perfecting an incomplete invention by tests and experiments.

Claims 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 in letters patent No. 228,136, dated May 25, 1880, and Claims 2, 3, and 5 in letters patent No. 231,199, dated August 17, 1880, both granted to Leonard A. Sprague for improvements in machines for making buckle levers, are void by reason of a public use of the invention by the patentee for a period of more than two years prior to his application for patent No. 231,199; as to claim 5 in letters patent No. 228,136, and claims 1 and 4 in letters patent No. 231,199, this Court agrees with the circuit court for the reasons stated in the opinion of the latter.

In equity for infringement of letters patent. Decree in favor of the complainant, 12 F. 721. From this decree an appeal was taken. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

Page 123 U. S. 250



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