Dreyfus v. Searle
124 U.S. 60 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Dreyfus v. Searle, 124 U.S. 60 (1888)

Dreyfus v. Searle

Argued December 20-21, 1881

Decided January 9, 1888

124 U.S. 60




The claim of letters patent No. 48,128, granted to John Searle, July 11, 1865, for an "improved process of imparting age to wines," namely,

"The introducing the heat by steam, or otherwise, to the wine itself, by means of metallic pipes or chambers passing through the casks or vessel, substantially as set forth."

is not valid for a process, because no different effect on the wine is produced from that resulting from the old method of applying heat to the wine, and is not valid for the apparatus, because that had before been used in the same way for heating a liquid.

Bill in equity to restrain infringement of letters patent. Decree for complainant. Respondent appealed. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

MR. JUSTICE BLATCHFORD delivered the opinion of the Court.

This is a suit in equity, brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the District of California by Sophia Searle,

Page 124 U. S. 61

as executrix of the last will and testament of John Searle, deceased, against Benjamin Dreyfus, Emanuel Goldstein, Jacob Frowenfeld, and John J. Weglein, co-partners under the firm name of B. Dreyfus & Co., for the infringement of letters patent of the United States, No. 48,728, granted to John Searle, July 11, 1865, for 17 years from June 15, 1865, for an "improved process of imparting age to wines." The bill was filed December 21, 1881.

The specification and claim of the patent are in these words:

"Be it known that I, John Searle, of the City and County of San Francisco, State of California, have invented a new and improved process for imparting 'age to wines and liquors,' and I do hereby declare that the within is a full and exact description of the same."

"The nature of my invention consists in providing a process for shortening the time that is now required for ripening wines and liquors to about one-half the period, without deteriorating their flavor by the use of steam."

"Madeira, sherry, port, teneriffe, and other wines have been prepared for many years, for imparting age, through the medium of 'estufas' or large ovens, having flues by which they are heated. These 'estufas' are filled with wines and spirits in casks or pipes, and are kept at a proper heat until the contents of the casks show the desired age through the staves. By this process, the heat must necessarily be very great (say 140

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