Tilghman v. Proctor
125 U.S. 136 (1888)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Tilghman v. Proctor, 125 U.S. 136 (1888)

Tilghman v. Proctor

Nos. 537, 548

Argued November, 3-5, 1886

Decided March 19, 1888

125 U.S. 136

Syllabus

One having an interest in all fees and other sums to be recovered under a patent, but not shown to have any interest, legal or equitable, in the patent itself, need not be made a party to a bill in equity for its infringement.

Upon a bill in equity by the owner against infringers of a patent, the plaintiff, although he has established license fees, is not limited to the amount of such fees, as damages, but may, instead of damages, recover the amount of gains and profits that the defendants have made by the use of his invention, over what they would have had in using other means then open to the public and adequate to enable them to obtain an equally beneficial result.

Upon a bill in equity for infringing a patent, if the defendants have gained an advantage by using the plaintiff's invention, that advantage is the measure of the profits to be accounted for, even if from other causes the business in which the invention was employed by the defendants did not result in profits, and if the use of a patented process produced a definite saving in the cost of manufacture, they must account to the patentee for the amount so saved.

The liability of infringers of a patent to account to the patentee for all the profits, gains, and savings which they have made by the use of his invention during the whole period of their infringement, is not affected by the fact that in the midst of that period, an erroneous decision was made in favor of a distinct infringer in no way connected with these defendants.

The conclusions of a master in chancery, depending upon the weighing of

Page 125 U. S. 137

conflicting testimony, have every reasonable presumption in their favor, and are not to be set aside unless there clearly appears to have been error or mistake on his part.

In determining the amount of gains and profits derived by infringers of a patent from the use of the invention over what they would have made in using an old process open to the public, the expense of using the new process is to be ascertained by the manner in which they have conducted their business, and not by the manner in which they might have conducted it; but the cost at which they used the old process is not conclusive against them if other manufacturers used that process at less cost.

As a general rule, in taking an account of profits against an infringer of a patent, interest is not to he allowed before the date of the submission of the master's report, but only after that date and upon the amount shown to be due by his report and the accompanying evidence.

The other questions decided were questions of fact.

In equity. These were cross-appeals from the decree entered (on the report of a master) in the execution of the mandate of this Court in the cause reported in 102 U. S. 102 U.S. 707. The case is stated in the opinion of the Court.

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